Common driving mistakes, and how to stop making them

It’s easy to make mistakes unconsciously when driving. And many drivers do not even realise what can happen as a result. Even small driving errors can have fatal results for the vehicle, the driver, passengers or other road users. Drivers are often not even aware that their behaviour is a blunder. To help you banish the most common mistake, we’ve created this guide. Here are the common driving mistakes made today.

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Wearing incorrect footwear

We’re not for a minute suggesting you need to go as far as to own a pair of ‘driving shoes’, but when it comes to dressing appropriately at the wheel, there is one main offender we need to address. Flip-flops are really popular, especially in the summer when the weather is hot. What might seem like a good idea to help keep your feet cool, though, is not a good idea when it comes to driving safely.

Surveys have suggested that as many as 25 percent of drivers admit to having got their flip-flops caught beneath the floor mats. Meanwhile, 20 percent even admit to having gotten their foot tangled or had it slip off a pedal due to flip-flops. If you do need to air your warm feet in the summer, go for closed sandals or plimsolls when you get behind the wheel and save your flip-flops for the beach.

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Continually braking downhill

Naturally, cars accelerate when they go downhill. Most drivers counteract this by constantly braking lightly over the entire downslope. This is not at all good for the brakes of the car. When you continually brake in this way, the brake disks can easily overheat and lose grasp.

It is much better to shift into a lower gear and let the braking effect of the engine itself slow the car down. If this method is not sufficient and you are still moving too quickly down a steep hill, brake more firmly and intermittently, letting the car coast in between stomps on the pedal. This is much better for your brakes in the long run and is a safer way to tackle the decline without running the risk of overheating your brake pads.

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Lane-hopping in traffic jams

We’ve all been there, you’re stuck in traffic and it seems as though all the other lanes are making progress more quickly than your own. This feeling tempts drivers to change lanes more frequently in a bid to increase their odds and advance through the traffic more quickly.

In reality, though, this doesn’t actually help the flow of traffic at all. Not only will you make yourself unpopular with the drivers of cars you are cutting in and out of, but by switching from lane to lane, you actually contribute to the traffic jam as a whole. The quickest and safest way to clear the roads is for everyone to stay in their lanes and remain patient. Remember that the next time you curse yourself for ‘picking the slow lane’.

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Shifting into reverse too early

This mistake often occurs when trying to parallel park into a tight roadside space – the pressure is on with traffic coming up behind you, and it’s easy to put your car into reverse before it has fully stopped moving.

This is bad for the car, regardless of whether it has a manual or automatic transmission. In the worst case, it may even lead to engine or gearbox damage. Don’t stress about taking your time, most road users understand that backing into a space is something that takes care and precision, so don’t rush it.

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Ignoring snow on the roof

When clearing ice or snow from your car-sharing car during the winter, remember to remove the snow from the roof. If you don’t, then there is the danger that snow will slide down over the windscreen when braking, thus hindering the visibility of the driver. Another dangerous situation that can occur is entire blocks of hard snow or ice flying off the back of your car as you accelerate and into the oncoming traffic behind you.

In some countries, driving with snow on the roof can even incur a fine. For more winter driving tips, read our full guide.

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Static steering

Whenever possible, you should try to avoid turning the steering wheel when the car is not in motion. Steering forces are much greater when standing still, which leads to increased wear to the tires. There are times, of course, where it is tempting to use static steering as a technique for getting out of tight spaces, but it should only really be used as a last resort.

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Poor seat adjustment

The beauty of car-sharing is that many drivers can take advantage of a single car. The downside, however, is that we are all different shapes and sizes and therefore adjustments need to be made each time you step into a SHARE NOW car.

This might, at first, sound rather superfluous, but taking a few minutes to adjust your seat’s distance from the wheel and pedals, as well as the height of the steering column, can have huge benefits in the unfortunate event of an accident - such as when the airbag deploys.

Making sure you have made the right adjustments to your seat and mirrors is not only about comfort, it could save your life! It goes without saying that for passengers, putting your feet up on the dashboard is a big no-no in terms of road safety.

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Storing items on the rear parcel shelf

It can be tempting to throw your jacket or other items on the rear parcel shelf if the boot is full, but this is not a good habit to get into before hitting the road. Not only does this obscure your rear visibility, but items lying on the rear parcel shelf of a car will be catapulted forwards with enormous power if you brake sharply.

A 300-gram umbrella, for example, develops a weight of 15 kg during an impact at a speed of 80 km/h. Store clothing or luggage under the seats in the footwells if you have run out of boot space.

David McCourt

David McCourt

Sr. Editorial Content Strategist

"Own less, share more."

David is on a mission to improve the quality of life in cities through modern mobility solutions.