Play it Safe: Avoid These 5 Common Driving Mistakes

For many of us, driving is second nature. It's habit, we know where we're going, how to get there and could likely do it blindfolded. But out of habit, often comes complacency which can breed bad habits that put you – and others – at risk. Here are five common driving mistakes that are both easy to make and easy to avoid:
  1. Distracted driving. We all have things on our minds, smartphones that ring and ding with messages, and/or kids and pets in the car to attend to, but when we're in the car, we need to focus. If you can't trust yourself to not check your phone, turn it off when you get in the car. As for your kids, lay ground rules – and if those rules are disobeyed or if an argument breaks out in the back seat – safely pull over and manage the situation. And finally, place your pet in an area that's safe for him and for you. If need be, you can even use a dog-friendly seat belt to keep him in place.
  2. Focusing on the wrong part of the road. Some of us zero in on road signs and exit numbers, when we really should be focusing on the road (and the vehicles) in front of us. It may seem like one of the more obvious driving safety tips, but if you can switch your focus and be more aware of your immediate surroundings, the road will be safer for everyone.
  3. Speeding, tailgating, and generally being aggressive. We've all been guilty of this at one point or another, but it's risky behavior that can not only earn you a ticket – but can cause accidents and put others in danger. So stop. Be mindful. Practice patience and make better choices – even if it means that you'll be 10 minutes late.
  4. Not using your turn signals appropriately. Some people signal too early, others too late and many, not at all. The problem with all of these scenarios is that they impact the way other drivers drive. If you signal too early, those behind you may think that you're not really going to turn and they stop paying attention to you; and if you signal too late or not at all, you force other drivers to (best case scenario) brake quickly to avoid a collision.
  5. Driving while tired, intoxicated or overly emotional. Like many other driving safety tips, this one encourages mindfulness. In order to recognize that you should not drive, you have to be self-aware – and you have to take action. If you have a friend, family member or co-worker you can count on for a ride home when you've stayed out past your bedtime, had too many cocktails or have simply had a wretched day and need a hand getting home, it can help you – and others – stay safer on the road.