Being comfortable in our driving environment has developed into bad habits, causing average everyday drivers to take risks and endanger not only themselves but others on the road as well. Today, most drivers get behind the wheel of their vehicle and fail to remember that they are not the only people out there on the open road. In driver education, everyone is taught to keep both hands on the wheel at all times, constantly check their mirrors, and always signal their intentions. There is, of course, the obvious, obey the posted speed limit and other posted signage. Young drivers follow these rules strictly, but as we grow older and become laxer in our driving these rules seem to not apply anymore.
Take, for example, keeping both hands on the steering wheel at all times. On a cool spring day, nothing beats a long, relaxing drive, with the windows down, and some good music playing. How many people have been seen with one hand on the steering wheel, window down, and their other arm resting comfortably on the door? Maybe while trying to find that good song to listen to, you find yourself fumbling through CDs, scrolling through a playlist on that new MP3 player, or possibly scanning through favorite local radio stations. With the widespread use of cellular phones over the past few years, it is not uncommon to see someone driving with one hand on the steering wheel while talking to someone on the phone held in the other. This has led to today’s drivers becoming masters of the one hand steering technique.
Becoming so engulfed with the idea that they are completely safe inside of their vehicles, drivers no longer bother to take into consideration other people on the road. Using mirrors in conjunction with signaling their intentions is a thing of the past. Every five to eight seconds the mirrors should be checked and always signal – that is what was taught in my driver education course. However, in today’s world, either you get a constant signal that is persistently flashing, but the driver never turns, or you receive no signal at all. Every day a close call happens simply because someone did not check the mirror or failed to signal a lane change. The lever is usually located right there next to the steering column, so why is it seldom ever used?
Speeding is possibly the most abused bad habit that has become a common occurrence on the open road today. Have you ever woken up late, been in a hurry, or just simply felt pressed for time? How do most people drive under these conditions? We inadvertently tend to rush. Getting behind the wheel of our vehicle, all risk is thrown out the window completely. That person, who was once an average everyday driver, has now become a professional Indy 500 racer. They speed down the main roads, crossing over lines, weaving through traffic, on a mission to reach their destination on time. Sometimes a rather long trip may cause you to increase the speed, hoping to achieve the same goal. Perhaps, a simple relaxing ride through the country feels more relaxing when done faster. Student drivers are frequently passed because we tend to think they are going too slowly, but rather it is us who are going too fast.
Over time the simple habits of the novice driver: safety, courtesy, and simply obeying the rules are replaced by bad driving habits because drivers get too comfortable with the daily risk they are faced with. Keep both hands on the wheel, check the mirrors, signal, and follow the posted speed limits. Developing bad habits over time can lead to speeding down the road, one arm out of the window, talking on the phone, while changing the CD. Not even a professional Indy car driver has mastered the multitasking of bad habits drivers have today.