Critical Issues: Encountering Dangerous Driving Behaviors
As someone who spends a good deal of time behind the wheel, you’ve seen your fair share of drivers who seem to have forgotten safe driving habits. These drivers can make every trip more difficult. By knowing who you may encounter can help you stay sharp on the road and reach your destination safely.
Some drivers tailgate because they are impatient or running late, while others follow too closely out of sheer ignorance of the dangers. Yet, it only takes one slight error by a motorist ahead or one driver slamming on the brakes for an accident to happen. In fact, tailgating is a common cause of rear-end collisions, the most frequent and costly type of accident.
Frequent Lane Changers
Frequent lane changers are never happy in whatever lane they might find themselves. This practice is not only a major source of traffic congestion, it causes accidents. When a driver weaves in and out of traffic, they force motorists behind them to swerve or abruptly hit the brakes, increasing the risk of sideswipes and rear-end collisions. The irony is that frequent lane changing does not get drivers to their destination any faster.
Merging onto a highway seems like a fairly simple concept, but far too many drivers do it incorrectly. There are those who fail to signal when merging; those who cross the solid white dividing line; and those who come to a complete stop at the end of an acceleration lane.
Merging when a travel lane comes to an end also seems to be an issue for many motorists. There’s the cutoff merger who plows as far ahead as possible in the ending lane, only to cut in line at the last possible moment, and the inconsiderate driver who refuses to let anyone merge ahead of them. These behaviors are invitations to accidents.
No Turn Signalers
Turn signals are the basic safety device that communicates a driver’s intentions to pedestrians and other motorists. However, it’s estimated that drivers fail to use their blinkers two billion times a day, or 750 billion times annually.
The excuses for not using a turn signal are numerous – laziness, forgetfulness, thoughtlessness or inattention. There are drivers who need to make a turn or lane change almost instantaneously and don’t have “time” to signal. Whatever the reason, failing to use turn signals results in roughly two million collisions a year.
Drivers speed because they are in a hurry, they’re not paying attention to their driving, they don’t think their driving is dangerous, or they don’t think they will get caught. But speeding is a poor driving behavior that reduces the amount of time needed to react to hazards, increases the chances of an accident and the severity of a collision when it does occur. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that very often, speeders are also more likely to engage in other risky behaviors (no seat belt, drinking and driving, or using a cell phone while driving).
Driving well below the speed limit, except in poor weather conditions, could be considered a bad driving behavior. The slow poke’s insistence on travelling slowly creates a traffic hazard behind them as other drivers jockey into a position to get past the slow driver.
While texting or using a hand-held device while driving is illegal for commercial motor vehicle drivers, it is not the case in many states for non-commercial motorists. So, even though many drivers know the risks of texting and talking on a cell phone while driving, the desire to keep in touch is all too powerful. It also goes without saying that distracted driving is not limited to the use of a cell phone. Any activity, such as reaching for something in the vehicle; eating or drinking; adjusting the radio or climate control; grooming; and rubbernecking that could divert a person’s attention away from the task of driving, endangers not only the driver and their passengers, but all others with whom they share the road.
In our next edition of Critical Issues, we will address some of the ways you can overcome the challenges these potentially dangerous drivers present.
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