As a regular road user, whether that’s on two wheels or four, I’ve had more than my fair share of blunders and encounters with inconsiderate drivers and motorcyclists on the road. Often times, we get used to it, to the point where we accept it as a normal occurrence. As someone who tries his best to be as considerate and safe as I can, we sometimes expect the same of our fellow driver. But with so many bad habits that we can form in our driving lives, frankly, most people tend to accept that their level of driving is perfectly acceptable, and their shortcomings are often chalked up to being oblivious or not knowing of their mistakes.
A habit, as defined by the dictionary, is something you do often or regularly, without conscious thought. A habit is always something that is learned, and therefore, can be unlearned through awareness and a conscious effort to change the behavior. In short, it means that our lapses or laziness in exerting the extra effort to drive more carefully and responsibly, has led to the notion that it’s okay. In this article, we’ll be talking about the most toxic driving habits we can’t seem to get rid of. Whether it’s bad teachings, wrong train of thought, or not taking the driving test properly to begin with, there’s so much more we can do to make sure we don’t commit these mistakes again. If you’re guilty of one of these mistakes on our list, maybe it’s time to make a change.
Not checking your blind spots
Did you know that you have to actually turn your head to check your blind spot? What’s that you say? You have your mirrors adjusted perfectly? That may be the case, but turning your head maximizes your vision and will let you accurately judge objects and their speed. Remember that motorcycle that’s no longer in your mirror? Glance around to see if he’s sitting in your blind spot. The smaller the object is, the harder it is to see, especially if you’re travelling the same speed. Don’t get caught by surprise and turn your head to check those danger areas before you make a lane change and turns at intersections. Motorcyclists, you also have no excuse, remember that sitting in blind spots is dangerous, putting way too much trust in other drivers can lead to an accident. Also, do not rely on blind spot indicators, they are there to assist you, and are not foolproof.
Not using your indicators
This seems pretty basic, but you’ll be surprised how many road users are too lazy to raise their fingers a few inches to touch that stalk. Other drivers cannot assume what you're about to do; they are not mind readers. Signalling your lane change, regardless of a presence of another vehicle, creates a predictable and safer driving environment for cars, pedestrians, motorcyclists, and other road users. It’s extra important at intersections, where the amount of cross traffic and driving variables increase exponentially. Remember that time you were sitting at an intersection, giving way to the vehicle about to cross in front, only to find out he was turning right onto your street without indicating? You could’ve joined traffic easier and kept everything flowing. Also, indicating doesn’t mean you have right of way, it is merely a request, so wait for a good gap or someone to let you in. Never ever force your way into a lane just because you have your signal on; it doesn’t protect you from accidents and damage to property.
Cutting in line
It’s rush hour and you’re patiently going along at a good pace in your lane as you enter an underpass. Suddenly, you have to come to a stop and you spot several cars cutting into the lane right before the concrete divider. It slows down traffic and it’s basically an “I don’t care about the line” move. Sucks, right? While everyone is waiting patiently and going with the flow, some people think they’re so important that they can disregard the queue. Try doing that at the grocery store, and see what happens. Being in the wrong lane is one thing, but there’s always an option to go down the street and make the u-turn, or maybe find another route. This is a classic Filipino driver move that needs to stop. It’s inconsiderate, adds to traffic, and it ticks a lot of people off.
Sitting in the left lane
We’ve heard all the excuses before. From “I’m already going the speed limit” to “I’m the only one on the road, they can pass on the right”. Here’s the real deal. It’s not your job to enforce the speed limit by being a physical barrier, you actually contribute to the danger of our roadways by having faster traffic overtake you on the right. It’s not called a fast lane, to be honest, it’s called an overtaking lane. You use that lane to overtake and move back to the right when you can. It doesn’t matter if there’s no one behind you; stay right at all times unless overtaking. Simple, right? Keep the left lane open and see our expressways move at a faster and safer pace. If you can’t grasp this concept, then you are free to exit and take the surface streets, and hopefully you don’t get a ticket before you do so.
Defending and blocking the lane
Look, we get that you don’t want to let cars in who may be cutting the queue or jumping the line. That’s your call, but remember that there’s always a limit and time to give way. Let’s say you’re stuck in traffic and the car next to you wants to move over. He or she starts to indicate and is waiting for a gap. Do you speed up and block them, or do you let them in? What do you have to gain? Will you lose anything? Nothing, right? A car indicating and making his presence felt is a request, and giving into their need to get into your lane can help make his driving day better. He may need to exit soon or need to pull over, and you helped him by being cooperative. I get a lot of waves from people when I do this, and I hope they too do the same by passing it on. Remember, we all just want to get to where we need to go, and it’s our job as responsible motorists to help each other out. Since when was it a race or an opportunity to get one up over your fellow man?