Cars

7 driving mistakes to avoid

7 driving mistakes to avoid
How to hit the open road, without hitting anything that’s on it
Published: 4:00 AM, January 12, 2017

SINGAPORE — Getting your driving licence and hitting the open road is, for many people, an empowering rite of passage. But as the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility.

In 2015, the Singapore Department of Statistics figures for annual Road Traffic Accident Casualties show that 151 people were killed and 10,412 injured. The figures from 2014 were 155 and 9,858 respectively.

Usually, exercising common sense is all you need to stay safe on the road, but as these sobering statistics show, there are occasions when sense isn’t that common. Not getting caught making these driving lapses can go a long way towards helping you enjoy your journey.

DRIVING IT LIKE YOU STOLE IT

Speed thrills, but it can also endanger your life and the lives of other road users and pedestrians. The faster you drive, the faster things can go wrong. Also, you’ll have less time to react to sudden changes in road conditions, like if the car in front suddenly brakes or cuts into your lane.

If you must scratch your speeding itch, consider booking a track day at the Sepang International Circuit. It’ll make for an enjoyable weekend getaway and teach you how little you really know about driving fast.

DRIVING IT LIKE YOU OWN IT

At the other end of the scale, driving slowly and being a road hog also causes potentially dangerous problems for other road users.

If you feel like enjoying that peaceful, easy feeling on the road and want to drive slowly, keep to the left lane, especially on expressways. Driving way below the speed limit on the right-most lane and not moving over for faster traffic causes congestion. It may even force other drivers to overtake you on the left, which may cause accidents.

TAILGATING

If you’re stuck behind a road hog, tailgating is not the way to get them to move over. Driving directly behind the boot of the car in front of you isn’t the way to drive on public roads. This may be what racing drivers do to get a draft from the car in front, but on a public road, that just makes you a road bully.

TEXTING WHILE DRIVING

Think you’re a multi-tasking maestro who can read text messages while controlling a one-and-a-half tonne vehicle moving at speed? Think again.

If you absolutely have to answer that all-important text message or phone call from your boss, be sure to find a safe spot to pull over and stop, without obstructing other road users. You may think you’re only taking your eyes off the road for a while, but a lot can happen during those precious seconds of inattentiveness.

Let’s say you’re driving at a relatively sedate 60kmh, and take your eyes off the road to read a text message.

A speed of 60kmh equates to slightly more than 16.5 metres per second. If you take your eyes off the road for five seconds to answer that message, your car would have travelled about 83m — roughly three-quarters the length of a football field — while you were fiddling with your phone instead of the road.

A lot can go wrong if someone just tries to walk without looking at where you’re going. So imagine the possible consequences if someone didn’t look where they were driving?

NOT BELTING UP

There’s a reason why seat belts are compulsory just about anywhere you drive these days. In an accident, they can prevent you from being flung forward into your car’s windscreen or the row of seats in front of you. So do make it a point to belt up, even if it’s just for a quick trip down the road.

NOT USING YOUR INDICATORS

Many of the celebrities we interviewed listed this as one of their pet peeves, and for good reason.

Contrary to what you may think, cutting immediately into another driver’s lane without signalling is not an indicator of wickedly smooth driving skills. Rather, it’s proof that you’re an inconsiderate road user who shows no regard for others.

And more often than not, the reason you were able to cut into the next lane is because the other driver was alert enough, and skilful enough, to anticipate your move and back away to avoid an accident.

NOT CHECKING YOUR MIRRORS

Conversely, signalling your intentions doesn’t automatically give you a free pass to cut into the next lane at will. Check for traffic first and make sure the driver in the next lane is giving you space. After all, a slight delay in getting to your destination is a much smaller price to pay than having to repair your car (or worse) after a fender-bender.