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Ten Bad Driving Habits to Avoid

December 16, 2011

Most drivers like to think that they are good drivers; safe, respectful and in compliance with the rules of the road. But there are a lot of bad habits ingrained in Canadian drivers that are quite common and hardly given a thought – until they result in a ticket or an accident and insurance rate increases. These common bad habits cost drivers thousands every year in car repairs, fines and increased car insurance rates. With a little awareness, the habits can be broken. With that being said, here are the top ten bad driving habits:

  1. Speeding. It sounds obvious, but more people are guilty of speeding than they believe. In fact, driving 5-10km/h over the speed limit may not sound like much, but that increase in speed is enough to reduce stopping time, increase the odds of an accident and earn you a ticket.
  2. Talking on the phone. Although most provinces have passed laws banning the use of cell phones while driving, Canadian drivers continue to make and receive phone calls behind the wheel. Not only can this mean a major ticket, talking on the phone has been conclusively linked to an increased chance of an accident due to driver distraction.
  3. Texting while driving. Quite a bit more dangerous than talking on the phone, this bad habit is among the worst offenses of Canadian drivers. Texting takes your hands and eyes off the road along with your attention and results in serious accidents every year.
  4. Using other electronic devices. GPS navigation systems, mp3 players, DVD players for the kids – all of these electronic devices can distract a driver from what is going on around them and result in an accident. Many provinces have outlawed the use of a variety of electronic devices by the driver while on the road, not just cell phones, so you could face a ticket if caught. It’s best to keep distractions away from the driver and be sure to program your GPS prior to leaving home; if you need to re-program it, pull over.
  5. Running red lights. Drivers in a hurry often try to beat the traffic light rather than slowing down when the amber light appears. Running red lights can cause serious traffic accidents – and with traffic cameras placed in many intersections, the chances of receiving a ticket have likely increased.
  6. Tailgating. Driving too close to the car in front of you is a dangerous habit that is all too common on roads in Canada. It’s important to remember that in any situation where you strike another car from the rear you will likely be found at fault; allowing some stopping distance can avoid accidents.
  7. Failure to account for road conditions. It shouldn’t take a blizzard to get a driver to slow down on the road and yet, many Canadians fail to take into account weather and road conditions and their impact on stopping times and visibility. Whether it is raining, the roads are slushy or there is black ice, slow down any time road conditions are less than optimal. Many people aren’t aware of it, but you may get a ticket for driving too fast for road conditions.
  8. Not using turn signals. Failing to use your turn signals to indicate that you are going to change lanes or make a turn may seem like a minor thing, but this all too common habit of Canadian drivers can cause major problems. When other drivers are not anticipating what you are going to do, accidents can happen. Signaling is one of the simplest things to do and yet one of the most prevalent bad habits.
  9. Road rage. This may not seem like a habit on the surface, but the failure to keep your cool and put your emotions aside on the road is a bad habit. Anger on the road leads to poor decisions that can result in serious accidents as well as tickets that can have a major impact on your car insurance rates.
  10. Cutting other drivers off. This may be the one bad habit that leads to road rage more often than any other. Cutting in front of another driver suddenly to too closely causes them to have to take defensive action that can result in an accident. It also frustrates and angers other drivers, causing them to lose focus on the road.

There is hardly a driver on the road that is not guilty of at least one of these bad habits and most of us are likely guilty more than once. Tickets and accidents as a result of these habits can have a major impact on car insurance rates and result in injuries and fatalities every year. Reducing distractions, staying focused and calm as well as following the most basic rules of the road are simple ways to make everyone safer on Canada’s roads and keep insurance rates down for everyone. And don’t forget, another way to keep car insurance rates lower is to shop your insurance rate.