Five Bad Driving Habits That Could Cost You

By Lesley Green
Young blond woman behind the wheel of a car with cell phone in hand driving distracted
  • A ticket for distracted driving (considered a major ticket) could increase your auto insurance premium by as much as 25%.
  • A minor ticket, for failing to signal or following too closely, could affect your premium by as much as 10%.
  • An at-fault collision could increase your premium by as much as 25%.

How we behave while driving can have serious consequences, perhaps a ticket or worse, a collision. Avoid the following five bad driving habits, and not only will you be a safer driver, but you'll also help keep your auto insurance premium in check.

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1. Distracted driving

Every province in Canada has a distracted driving law. Distracted driving isn't just about taking phone calls, texting, or playing with your GPS while driving; it's also about eating, putting on make-up, and shaving.

A good rule-of-thumb to drive by is if it requires that you take your eyes or attention away from the road, it can wait. And, if for some reason you feel it can’t wait, you run the risk of a distracted driving ticket that could increase your insurance rates by as much as 25%.

2. Failing to signal

Drivers who signal late, or worse, don't signal at all, are a major pet peeve for many motorists. Turning on your signal isn't just a courtesy; you can get a ticket for failing to let people know what you are planning to do. This ticket is usually classified as a minor ticket and will likely increase your premium in the neighbourhood of 10%.

3. Speeding

The posted limit isn't a suggestion; it's the maximum speed you should be driving when conditions are ideal. When conditions are not ideal, adjust your speed accordingly. If you speed or do not drive according to the weather and road conditions, don't be surprised to see a police cruiser behind you.

Depending on how fast you’re speeding (and where), a speeding ticket could be classified as a minor, major, or serious conviction, and each will affect your premium in much of the same way (minorly, majorly, and seriously) -- no joke.

4. Following too closely

Tailgating is an aggressive move and can easily lead you to rear-end the car in front of you if they brake suddenly. The resulting collision will be 100% entirely your fault and could increase your premium by as much as 25%. Keep a safe distance between yourself and the vehicle in front of you to avoid this from happening.

What makes a safe distance? Under normal driving conditions, safe spacing can be determined with the two-second rule; a two-second interval from the time the car in front of you passes a fixed object until you reach the same object. Simply count it out slowly; one thousand and one, one thousand and two. In bad weather, double the two-second rule.

5. Unsafe lane changes

Drivers in the lane you are looking to move into expect you to stay where you are. To change lanes safely, check your mirrors, blind spot, signal your intentions and steer gradually into the new lane when you’re confident the coast is clear. Also, be mindful you should never cut in front of another vehicle, weave in and out of traffic, or change lanes in or near an intersection.

Safer driving makes dollars and sense too

Safety comes first, of course, but don't forget the effect that bad driving traits (and their potential consequences) can have on your auto insurance. Drivers without tickets or accidents pay less for auto insurance. It's as simple as that.