New driver? Bypass the bad habits!

Two people in a car

If you’ve recently passed your driving test there’s a good chance you still hold the wheel with a ten-to-two grip and feed it through your hands when manoeuvring. But give it a few months and the bad habits will soon start to creep in. Before you know it, you’ll be slouched in your seat, one hand on the wheel with the other tapping along to the radio. So, to help you avoid the grim fate of driving just like your mum or dad do, here’s a round-up of some of bad habits to steer clear of…

Don’t let your steering slip

One of the easiest bad habits to fall into is to cross your hands when turning and then letting it spin back through your hands to straighten up.

Try to avoid this. You can easily lose control of the car when turning, particularly if you hit a pothole. And turning the wheel using the palm of one hand should also be avoided. It might make you feel like you’re working the bumper cars at the fair, but there’s a big risk of your hand slipping off the wheel and you losing control. So keep that ten-to-two grip and feed the wheel - as you were taught in your driving lessons - to make sure you maintain control of the car at all times. Pressing your face against the wind screen like an old codger is to be avoided, though.

Stop slamming the brakes on

If you’re a bit of a speed demon, or just a bit short-sighted, there’s a chance you’ll speed up to junctions and then slam on the brakes at the last minute. Doing this puts extra wear on your tyres and brake pads and can lead to costly repairs. Not only that, it’s dangerous, as braking sharply means other drivers have to react quickly, and if one of them isn’t giving the road their full attention, you could find yourself rear-ended. Or if your reaction times aren’t quick enough you could end up going in to the back of the car in front. And if it’s wet or icy, you could skid, and then who knows what. Not a good look.

Don’t forget: mirror, signal, manoeuvre

Indicating should be second nature, even if you drive a BMW.  You should flick the indicator as you turn the wheel just before you turn, pull over or swap lanes.
And before you indicate you should check your mirror – and your blindspots - to make sure it’s safe to manoeuvre. Obviously, failure to carry out this simple routine means other road users won’t be able to pre-empt what you’re doing and can easily lead to a crash.

Stop hogging the middle lane

Seeing a car pootling along in the middle lane of the motorway is something that never fails to grind the gears of regular motorway users. While it might seem harmless enough, hovering in the middle lane slows the natural flow of traffic and can cause some irate drivers to pull a risky undertaking manoeuvre. Actually, there’s another one: don’t undertake other cars. Something that leads nicely on to…

Don’t get distracted

Sooner or later you’ll take a trip in the car and have no recollection of how you got from A to B – and when your head’s in the clouds like this, there’s obviously a bigger risk of crashing. So keep focused on the road and your journey, keep all distractions such as mobile phones out of sight and out of mind and don’t pay more attention to what’s happening on the pavement than what’s happening right in front of you. Driver distraction is at least partly to blame for 22% of crashes, so don’t let your mind wander, and remember, your air drumming doesn’t add anything to the songs on your radio.

Demist before you drive

If your car is anything like mine, its interior boasts its own micro-climate and, quite possibly, a thriving eco-system. That means every time you get in, the windscreen is misted up. If so, don’t get into the habit of whacking on the de-mister then immediately driving down the road, arched over the steering wheel, trying to clear a patch using your forearm. Just wait until the windows are properly de-misted, then drive off. Similarly, if the windscreen has ice on it, don’t chip away a space about the size of a smartphone before jumping in, putting everything electric on full blast and driving off, squinting through the peephole.

Don’t be an angry driver

Some people, as they spend more and more time on the road, can’t help but get angry the second they get behind the wheel – usually as a result of other drivers pulling some of the moves mentioned above. And it’s not a reserved, stiff-upper-lip, bottle-it-all-in type of anger, it’s full on apoplectic rage complete with shouting, swearing and hand signals for those who are hard of hearing and can’t lip read. And when someone’s remonstrating with everyone else on the road, they’re not concentrating on their driving. So don’t do it, just relax. As Frankie said (ask your parents). Do you have any bad driving habits? What are the bad habits of other drivers that really grind your gears? ’Fess up, or share your rage, in the box below. And See how some of the MoneySuperMarket team got on when we re-took our driving tests - it's like a checklist of bad habits... [embed width="560" height="315"] [/embed]

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