Here are some bad driving habits that we may have developed over time. Being aware of these and cutting out these annoying practices can make the roads a safer and more pleasant place for all.
Have you been honked at for no apparent reason at all? Or tried to change lanes to make that left turn but no one would let you into their lane?
We’ve all been on the receiving end of another road user who has inadvertently ruined our drive or upset us, even if only momentarily. Chances are, either you’ve been a victim of someone’s bad driving habits, or you yourself are annoying another road user with habits of your own.
Since there is no requirement for recertification after you’ve passed your driving test, bad habits can creep in over time. Here are 10 such practices that should be avoided:
- Road hogging
- Failing to give way
- Not ‘zippering’ when merging
- Not obeying STOP signs
- Wrong use of hazard lights
- Wrong use of fog lights
- Not signalling
- Unnecessary braking
- Impatient honking
This usually happens when you’re blocked by a slower vehicle in the right-most lane, otherwise known as the passing lane for obvious reasons. Yet, some motorists feel like they are in their God-given right to remain in this lane just because they are driving at the speed limit. Worse still, some stay in this lane permanently below the stipulated limit.
This causes some drivers to pass on the left (for international readers, vehicles in Singapore drive on the left-hand side of the road) or undertake as it were, which is inherently more dangerous.
Firstly, make it a habit to use the passing lane sparingly. It should only be used when you need to go past another vehicle. Next, check your rear view mirrors frequently. If you see a faster vehicle closing in, move to the lane on the left and let that vehicle pass. Don’t take it upon yourself to ‘enforce’ the speed limit by staying in that lane. Leave that to the cops.
Failing to give way
Road users in Singapore are probably the worst at this. Having driven all over the world, drivers in just about every other country I’ve experienced will slow down and let you merge in front of them without a fuss — as long as you signal, of course.
However, this rarely happens in Singapore. Instead, local motorists tend to accelerate to get in front — the moment you signal your intention to change lanes. Maybe, my fellow countrymen (and women) see it as a loss of face or ‘queue-cutting’. Whatever it is, it makes the task of changing lanes and possibly exiting the expressway or road a lot more stressful than it needs to be. The driver who needs to cut in might get desperate and resort to a more aggressive driving style which only serves to aggravate the road users around them.
If you see a fellow motorist indicating to change lanes, slow down and let them cut in. That’s how most of the world drives, believe it or not.
Not ‘zippering’ when merging
This is a variation of failing to give way. This situation happens in heavy traffic conditions where two lanes merge into one. It can also apply if a lane is blocked by an accident or road works, and vehicles have to merge to the next available lane.
This inevitably turns into a test of wills where only the bravest will dare to cut into the path of the next lane, causing those behind the timid driver to be stuck.
Best practice[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cX0I8OdK7Tk[/embedyt]
In such a situation, the fastest proven way to clear traffic is known as the “zipper merge”. Just how the teeth on a zipper alternates, drivers from the blocked lane should switch lanes just before the obstruction and alternate with the vehicle in the next lane as shown in the video below.
Not obeying STOP signs
This one is obvious and is also against the law, but how many local motorists actually come to a complete stop at a STOP sign? Many accidents have been caused by not taking these signs seriously.
It may feel silly to stop for no apparent reason, especially when there are no other vehicles around. But developing a habit to adhere to STOP signs might just save your life one day.
Wrong use of hazard lights
Hazard lights, blinkers or flashers are really effective at making your car noticeable to other road users. Which is why they should only be used for emergencies to let others know that your car is stopped in a place it shouldn’t be. To this end, it’s slightly infuriating to see drivers turning them on while driving in a heavy downpour. This can actually confuse the motorists behind you, as the hazard lights could be interpreted as a vehicle that has come to a stop. Worse still, if this practice pervades, then what happens if a car really does come to a standstill for some reason and the driver behind assumes that the car with the hazards on is still moving? CRASH!
Another favourite is to turn on the hazard lights when reversing into a parking lot. If there’s more than one lot available, how am I to know if you plan on reversing to the left or right?
In the occasional thunderstorm when visibility drops to near zero, the red glow from the tail lights when you turn on the headlights are usually enough to make your car visible to others even if you can’t quite see them in your rear view mirror.
And instead of reaching for the red triangle button on your dashboard when you’re about to park, it’s better to simply indicate which side you’ll be reversing into. That together with the combination of the reverse lights coming on when you select ‘R’ is more enough let others around you know of your intentions.
Read on to learn how you could enhance your car’s visibility a step further:
More on how to use your hazard lights here.
Wrong use of fog lights
It’s a beautiful night out, clear skies and perhaps even a full moon. Yet, some drivers still insist on leaving their fog lights on – front and rear, no less. Why?
The rules state that fog lights should only be used in inclement weather. Exactly how you define ‘inclement’ might be subjective, but we’re pretty sure there should be some rain, mist or hey, fog, to warrant the use of the type of lights they’re named for.
While leaving your car’s front fog lights on during clear nights is just showing off, running with rear fog lights on is extremely annoying for those in following vehicles as rear fog lights are very bright for obvious reasons.
Instead, rear fog lights should be switched on only – and only – in the case of extremely poor visibility conditions like a torrential downpour when you can’t see more than a car-length ahead.
At some point, every driver has been behind a vehicle that abruptly brakes and makes a sudden turn or veers into your lane without using their indicators. We’re not mind-readers.
This one’s simple. If you plan on turning off the road or switching lanes, let others know by indicating the direction you want to go. The earlier mentioned bad habit of failing to give way has also led to some drivers preferring to use the element of surprise lest others know of their lane-changing intentions and thwart their plans.
Ok, we’re not all Lewis Hamilton in the driving department, but just about any car built in the last 30 years is capable of cornering at 30km/h or less without the need to brake. Worse still, on a STRAIGHT stretch of road, with no vehicles in front, why do some drivers still tap their brakes?
The brake system might be the most important piece of safety equipment on any road-going vehicle, but overusing it leads to premature wear and tear as well as increased emissions and fuel consumption, if you’re constantly slowing down excessively and thus needing to accelerate again.
Instead, maintaining your speed with gentler accelerator inputs and moderating your speed by coasting (letting the car roll momentarily without touching any pedals) is a much smoother way to drive. Not only will your passengers thank you for it, your wallet will, too.
Remember the “two-second” rule about following the vehicle in front? Some drivers don’t, apparently, and end up in rear-end collisions which, according to our traffic laws, rightly or wrongly puts the driver behind entirely at fault no matter what the driver in front did.
This is another easy one. Put more space between you and the vehicle in front. Here’s a pro tip; the larger the vehicle in front, the more distance you should leave between vehicles. If you’re behind a lorry or bus for example, make sure you can see the driver in his mirrors. That way, you’ll know for sure that the driver in the big vehicle can see you.
You’re stopped at the traffic lights and the nanosecond it turns green, the driver (usually a taxi) leans on their horn to get you moving. Not only is this unsettling for the driver in front, it also contributes to noise pollution.
Okay, once in a while, the driver daydreams or more likely looking at their smartphone while waiting for the traffic lights to turn green. If you must, a quick tap is less aggravating than a full-on blare.
For more tips and trick to raise your driving game, check out another AutoApp article here.