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Nine bad driving behaviours to avoid

Nine bad driving behaviours to avoid

Some driving behaviours are reckless and, in some cases, illegal. They can damage your car, affect other motorists and even potentially cause an accident. Here are nine reckless driving actions to stop. 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
posted 24 MARCH 2020

1. Tailgating 

Failing to keep your distance from the car in front is infuriating and intimidating for the driver ahead, not to mention dangerous. The closer you get to the car in front, the less time you have to react if they brake suddenly.

The Highway Code states that drivers should “allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic”. It also advises motorists about typical stopping distances, combining thinking distance and braking distance in its calculations.

2. Hogging the middle lane

Hogging the middle lane is technically illegal – it’s recognised as a careless driving offence. Since 2013, police can issue on-the-spot fines if you’re caught.  
It’s one of the driving behaviours that most irritate other motorists because it can cause traffic jams, as other cars only have one lane to use for overtaking. Also, it can force other drivers into making more lane changes, which is when a driver is most likely to be involved in an incident. 

3. Not using your indicators 

Failing to indicate means other drivers and pedestrians don’t know what you’re intending to do, so it increases the risk of a collision. 
The Highway Code states that you should always “give clear signals in plenty of time” and “use them to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or moving off”. 

4. Driving too fast or too slowly 

Driving too fast for the weather or road conditions is one of the worst driving behaviours of all. It could be intimidating for other drivers sharing the road, and it can be very dangerous.  

The Highway Code instructs drivers not to treat speed limits as a target, saying that: “It is often not appropriate or safe to drive at the maximum speed limit.” Tailor your speed not just to the speed limit, but also to the conditions. If another driver harasses you, don’t risk a road rage incident. Pull over and let them pass. 
You can also be penalised for driving too slowly, if your driving becomes a potential danger to other drivers. For example, this could happen if you are driving extremely slowly on a motorway, despite good road and weather conditions.  

5. Braking for speed cameras 

Late braking is a common cause of accidents. Some drivers brake late if they suddenly spot a speed camera. Suddenly slowing to the speed limit can increase the risk of an incident, as drivers behind you may not expect you to brake so violently. Always abide by the speed limits to ensure you’re driving at a safe speed. Doing so should mean you won’t need to brake sharply for speed cameras in the first place. 
Consistently late braking also wears down your brake pads and discs, and uses more fuel, so it’s bad for your car too. 

6. Barging in/Not letting people in 

It’s natural to want to avoid sitting in a traffic jam, but nipping up to the front of the queue and then trying to barge in when your lane is closed up ahead, isn’t the answer. It will only anger the motorists who’ve been waiting patiently for the traffic to move in the one open lane. Likewise, it’s no good getting annoyed when someone tries to barge in front of you when you’ve been queuing patiently.  
The best thing to do when a lane has closed and traffic is moving slowly, is to follow the Highway Code’s recommended advice of merging in turn: “Merging in turn is recommended but only if safe and appropriate when vehicles are travelling at a very low speed, for example when approaching road works or a road traffic incident. It is not recommended at high speed.”

7. Using your mobile phone 

It’s illegal to use a handheld mobile phone when driving. If caught, you’ll receive six penalty points on your licence and a £200 fine. If you’ve passed your test within two years, you could lose your licence. This applies even when your vehicle is stationary, for example in a traffic jam.  
Driving while distracted is very dangerous. Switch off your phone or put it in the glove box even before you turn the engine on. 

8. Ignoring ‘stay in lane’ signs 

In traffic jams, it always seems as though the other lanes are moving more quickly – so the temptation to swap lanes can be irresistible. But it’s best to heed the advice of the gantry signs to ‘stay in lane’. You probably won’t get much further ahead by swapping lanes, but you may hamper the flow of traffic and potentially make the jam longer.

9. Poor parking

Taking up two parking spaces is an absolute no-no, and parking close to, or slightly over, the parking bay line is just as annoying for other drivers. Not parking properly within the lines of the parking bay makes the space too tight for other vehicles. And it could mean scratched or dented car doors.  

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