Most driving schools will only teach you the driving essentials plus the rules and regulations you are expected to follow. However, regulations vary even across states, let alone countries, while some things you’re never taught in driving school but you might wish it where, for that could impact your safety or reduce the lifespan of your vehicle. It could be the little things like opening the radiator cap when the engine is hot or overtopping the fuel tank. Sure, ignorance is bliss but most of these things are no-brainer mistakes that you should avoid while driving. So here’s out list of 20 things you shouldn’t do in or to your vehicle:
1. Don’t drive with your hands at 10 & 2 position in modern cars fitted with airbags
While younger drivers are taught the proper steering wheel hand positions, many of the older driver were taught a different way. Most adults who have been driving for 20 years or longer have been taught to place their hands at the 10 and 2 positions on the steering wheel. This is no longer the correct way to hold a steering wheel and you should never drive with your hands at the 10 and 2 positions in modern vehicles. The NHTSA now recommends holding the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 or the 4 and 8 positions on the steering wheel. This is due to airbag deployment in modern cars. This way you lower the risk of injury in an accident drastically by avoiding unwanted airbag impacts with your hands, wrists, and arms.
2. Do not put your feet up on the dashboard
It’s tempting to put your feet up on the dashboard – it’s relaxing and comfortable. Nevertheless, if an unfortunate accident happens at the precise moment your feet are on the dashboard, the airbags will get deployed and the force will push your feet back to your face. You don’t want to imagine what will happen if the airbags don’t deploy but you fly under the seatbelt and through the windshield under the force of a frontal impact. Just for the record, there have been unlucky accident victims that have suffered such trauma. So don’t do it!
3. Never drive with two feet
The obvious exception to this rule is when driving a manual transmission vehicle. Yet we’re automatic transmission vehicles. Two-footed drivers often unknowingly rest their left foot on the brake pedal just enough to activate the brake lights. In the worst cases, someone who drives with two feed will put tremendous strain on their entire brake system. There is also something call the “two-footed panic.” During an emergency stop, many people who drive with two feet press down on both the gas pedal and brake pedal. Those who drive with two feet are typically also more jerky in their driving, along with a multitude of other minor issues. So if you drive with two feet, get out of that habit right now.
4.Never drive with high heels on
Apart from being uncomfortable when driving, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t drive wearing high heels. First, you won’t be able to put enough force on the pedals, especially during an emergency. Secondly, your heels can get stuck on the floorboard or you can step on the wrong pedal. Thirdly, wearing high heels in the event of a car accident can aggravate injuries causes to your legs. Due to these and many more reasons, it’s better to drive barefoot or change to a pair of comfortable shoes if you are wearing those heels after all.
5. Don’t ride shotgun with your pet
According to a study done by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, at least a third of dog owners admitted their pet was a cause of distraction when driving. Besides that, airbag deployment during an accident can cause serious injuries to your pet. The worst-case scenario would be your pet flying out of the window due to a head-on collision impact. So what’s the better option? Put your pet in the backseat buckled up with a seat harness specially built for pets. Don’t forget, the best position would be directly behind the driver’s or front passengers’ seat.
6. Never wear the seatbelt behind your back while driving or use false buckles
Yeah, seatbelts might seem uncomfortable, but if you don’t wear them properly, you might as well not wear it at all. While pretty straightforward, your life and limb could depend on you knowing how to wear a seatbelt properly, so taking the 2 minutes to read this guide isn’t a terrible idea. Having the shoulder strap behind your back is illegal in most places, and will get you the same citation as not having the seatbelt on at all. You need to be wearing the seatbelt as it was intended.
7. Don’t drive with a child or pet on your lap
Just like riding shotgun with your pet, driving with a child or pet on your lap can be dangerous. Reason? It is illegal for a child to be in the vehicle without a child seat ISOFIX. In addition, a child may decide to suddenly get hold of the steering wheel and before you know it, you’re swerving on the wrong side of the road. Similarly, a dog or a cat can poke your eye or scratch your face. Not to mention, there is a risk of fatal injuries for either in case of an accident.
8. Never drive in the far left lane of a highway unless you’re passing
Many people call the left lane on the highway the “fast lane” but this label is gratuitous. The left lane is the “passing lane”. It’s used for passing other vehicles. There are some exceptions to this rule, but those exceptions are obvious. Moving over for a stopped emergency vehicle on the right shoulder, needing to take a left-hand exit ramp, using an HOV (high occupancy vehicle or otherwise known as carpool) lane, etc. However, you should never drive in the left lane unless you are actually passing or about to pass someone. Always move back over to the right if you’re not passing.
9. Grabbing something out of reach while driving
It only takes a second of distraction trying to grab for something beyond your grasp to cause an accident. Maybe somebody could be crossing the road and since you’re busy with your hands and eyes somewhere else, the worst could happen. If you must do it, tell your passenger to help you out or wait till you stop. Never attempt reaching out for something while driving and maintain road awareness at all times.
10. Don’t drive when tired
At least 17 percent of fatal road accidents are caused by drowsy drivers. So the next time you think of splashing your face with water when you’re worn out, think again. Neither does drinking too much coffee and energy drinks make a big difference. Of course, caffeine can keep you awake for a while but the minute it goes down, you risk dozing suddenly like you’ve been sedated by a tranquilizer. The foolproof method would be to get enough sleep, drink enough water, and eat lightly. So before you hit the road always make sure you’re well rested in order to be safe and sound.
11. Maintain a safe driving distance from large or long vehicles
As a trucking company, we can’t stress this high enough. Always maintain appropriate distance form large vehicles. It doesn’t matter you’re driving in a congested city, country road, or open highway – give large vehicles as much room as possible. Not only because trucks have large blind spots areas to contend with, large vehicles are also prone to mechanical mishaps that can give you a very bad day. If you have ever see shredded tires on highways, that’s because large trucks have tire blowouts quite often. You do not want to be near a truck when that happens. Those slabs of rubber can smash through your windshield, and if a truck blows a steer tire, it could send the truck sharply into your lane with zero warning. There are so many reasons to give large vehicles a lot of space that this could be an entire article on its own so to put it simply: just give them room!
12. Leaving your child in the car
You’ve probably seen it in the news before; a parent leaves a child in the car for a few minutes and the child dies due to a heat stroke. If you didn’t know, a car is designed like an oven which means the temperature inside can be twice the recorded temperature outside. Also, children absorb temperatures 3 to 5 times faster than adults. Besides that, it is usually a law violation in most states and you can get charged with child endangerment if you ever chose to lock the child in your car. We’re sure you care enough for them to never leave them in danger.
13. Never assume railroad tracks are safe to cross
Most driver’s cross railroad tracks without a care in the world. If the lights aren’t flashing, people drive right on by. Yet have you ever wondered why do busses and trucks carrying hazardous cargo need to stop at every crossing by law? It is because railroad crossing lights are not always reliable. Even though railroad crossing lights might be functional a human or mechanical error can cause the unforeseeable. And you don’t want to have an accident with a train, because you’ll lose every time. When approaching railroad tracks, slow down, look down the tracks to see if there are any trains coming, and listen for any possible trains that might be close by.
14. Sleeping in your car indoors with the engine running
Keeping your car engine on indoors, most unventilated garages or other buildings is ill advised. Ever heard of carbon monoxide poisoning? The exhaust system of a car emits carbon monoxide and if you park and sleep while the engine is running, there is a high risk of suffocation. As a matter of fact, carbon monoxide is odorless and you won’t even sense it before it gets to you. So if your car is indoors do not sleep in it with the engine running.
15. Overtopping the fuel tank
If you practice topping off the fuel tank until there is no room left to be filled, you might want to get rid of this habit. Doing that is considered a hazard since it could be the reason why your evaporative system including your charcoal canister starts to develop problems. Next thing you know, there is a leak somewhere and your vehicle’s performance is underwhelming. Neither is it cheap to fix nor do you want to cause your vehicle harm and have another leak in your pocket.
16. Never drive with cruise control in heavy rain, snow, or ice
Cruise control is pretty great. Many people are too nervous to use cruise control, but for those of us who drive long distances on occasion, it makes driving much more comfortable. However there are some situations you should never use cruise control in. This is mostly the case when driving in rain, snow, or ice. Cruise control is not designed to handle these road conditions and can cause your vehicle to lose control.
17. Opening the radiator cap when the engine is hot
One of the dumbest things anybody can do when changing the coolant is opening the radiator cap when the engine is hot. The hot coolant will spill out like a volcano and you would be lucky if you don’t check into the hospital with a scalded skin. You also don’t want to forget regularly changing your engine coolant. The engine overheats and if you’re living in a very cold place, the water in the engine could freeze. The effects may cause a ripple in your engine like cancer and before you realize what’s going on, the radiator is in critical condition.
18. Never wave someone through traffic
Most of us try our best to be courteous drivers, but there are times being too nice can actually cause a very dangerous situation. When you are stopped in traffic, it is courteous to leave space if there is a driveway, side street, or business entrance. This enables people turning into or out of that area enough space so they don’t need to wait for traffic to move and unblock the area they need to go. Yet you should never, ever, direct anyone through. Many car accidents occur at these types of intersections because someone got waved through traffic, only to get struck by a vehicle driving down another lane or on the shoulder of the road.
19. Never escalate a road rage situation
Here’s the truth most people don’t like to admit – we all get road rage. Yes, even your grandma. If you don’t ever get road rage, there’s a pretty decent chance you’re not human. Yet it is critically important that you keep your composure while driving. Many accidents, injuries, and even deaths occur because someone made a dumb decision in a moment of rage – like brake checking another vehicle, cutting another vehicle off out of revenge, etc. You should also never engage with anyone who is actively engaging in road rage. Get as far away from them as possible.
20. Driving under the influence
Millions of lives are lost on the road every year due to fatal accidents that are caused by drunk drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol impairs judgment and affects your ability to react quickly. In fact, even a few shots could cause you to drive dangerously. Remember, if you cause an accident and injure somebody as a result, you could get jailed, so don’t risk it! Also mind that you can get a DUI charge without ever drinking any alcohol or doing any illegal drugs. Prescription and even some over-the-counter drugs are enough to land you in jail with a DUI charge. Should you be found to have been “under the influence” of prescription or over-the-counter drugs, you could be charged with some very serious crimes exceeding DUI (manslaughter, reckless endangerment, etc.). So when you start taking a new medication check with your doctor and read the warning label carefully. If there is any doubt, do not drive!