Driving habits; let’s face it we all have them and some are more dangerous than others. We have listed nine bad driving habits that the average motorist displays in an attempt to help drivers prolong the life of their vehicle and in some cases make sure they are in compliance with the law.
Putting the clutch in at lights
When you stop at a set of traffic lights many people will leave the vehicle in gear and simply hold their clutch in. This is fine for brief periods while you are only stationary for a moment or so. However, this may cause unnecessary wear on the throw-out bearing, which is a major component in the clutch. Generally, the best thing to do is to place the vehicle in neutral, take your feet off the pedals and use your handbrake to secure the vehicle. It’s better to use the handbrake in this situation as it will prevent you from moving forward should someone run into the back of your vehicle.
Holding the ‘bite point’ on a hill
One of the most common bad habits is holding a vehicle on the biting point to prevent the vehicle from rolling back. The problem is that yes it does indeed stop you from rolling back but it also puts a lot of strain on your clutch. Doing this for a long period of time will cause you to burn out your clutch quicker which can be expensive to replace. Using the handbrake to hold you in place is normally the best option. You can find you biting point just before you need to pull off to ensure that you don’t roll back once you release the handbrake.
Not wearing glasses
A worrying one in eight people who need glasses or contact lenses admitted to driving without them. Police have the power to stop anyone they suspect of driving with poor vision. Should you fail a roadside eye test then you could face a hefty fine and points on your licence. We recommend that you always keep a spare pair of glasses in your vehicle just in case you forget your normal ones. For more information see, Duty of Care: Driver Eyesight.
Resting your hand on the gear stick or foot on the clutch
While driving you may find that you will rest your hand on the gear stick, sometimes without even realising it. This can cause friction within your transmission, especially on the selector fork. Besides this, it is also a good idea to keep both hands on the wheel for obvious reasons.
A similar problem occurs when drivers rest their foot on the clutch pedal and in doing so can wear down the throw-out bearings and cause the clutch to slip.
Coasting down a hill
Some drivers will put a vehicle into neutral while travelling down a hill, this is known as coasting. It is widely debated whether or not this actually saves you fuel. What is for certain is that you have less control over the vehicle. The rate of acceleration will be determined by how to steep the hill is and not by the driver, similarly engine braking will be eliminated which will place more pressure on the brake pads. Finally, a vehicle is much harder to control around a bend if it is not in gear which presents an obvious risk.
Staying in the right-hand land on a motorway
When driving on the motorway the middle and right-hand land are meant to be used as ‘overtaking’ lanes but are often referred to as ‘fast’ lanes. Their purpose is to allow faster moving vehicles to pass slower and often heavier vehicles. Once you have overtaken a vehicle you should move back over to the left.
Changing from reverse to drive before stopping
When we are in a hurry it is easy enough to change from reverse to first (or vice versa) without using our brakes to stop us first. By definition, the transition from a forward motion to a backwards motion will involve a ‘stand still point’, even if it is only brief. Not bring a vehicle to a controlled stop and simply using the gearbox and engine to change direction will cause unnecessary strain on the transmission, which may lead to a breakage.
Not signalling left when exiting a roundabout
When it comes to roundabouts most of us are told as a general rule of thumb that if our exit is passed half way then we use our right indicator. However, many motorists fail to signal off when exiting. Every exit should be seen as a left turn and therefore, a reason to indicate.
When you turn your wheel without also moving the vehicle it can damage and wear out your tyres, this is known as dry steering. Most modern vehicles are now equipped with power steering making it surprisingly easy to dry steer. However, the force on the tyres is far more than that which you apply to the steering wheel which is why it is so easy to dry steer. You will find it much harder to dry steer in a vehicle without power steering.
Sometimes it isn’t always possible to avoid dry steering, in a tight car park for example. But generally, it is avoidable as you only need to move the vehicle slightly so the wheels are free to move. For more information about prolonging the life of your tyres see, Don’t leave it too late to replace your tyres.
As well as the nine driving habits mentioned above there is also a number of potential life threatening “bad habits” that many motorists still display on a daily basis like speeding or driving under the influence. For more information see, Driving Law & Legislation.