Check out these top 10 driving mistakes you should be aware of, plus find out how to correct them.
It can happen to the best drivers: You learn the correct way of performing certain driving maneuvers as an early driver, but as time goes on, your attention to detail wavers and you may begin to develop poor habits behind the wheel — and those poor habits are putting you and others at risk.
Don’t let bad habits happen to you! Be proactive about spotting them in your own driving and making the necessary corrections. In this blog, we lay out the top 10 most common driving mistakes, plus let you know what you can do to correct them.
Mistake #1: When making a left or right turn, driving over the divider line, rather than turning cleanly into the proper lane.
Fix it: If you’re cutting a turn too sharply or making excessively wide turns, then you’re likely either starting the turn too soon or you’ve waited too long to initiate the turn. Think of your turn as a segment of a circle, and remember that your eyes start the steering process. Make a single steering input to initiate the turn, and hold the steering wheel in that position until you’re about in the lane, when you’ll allow the wheel to straighten out. Look where you want to turn.
Mistake #2: Not stopping before the sidewalk when exiting a parking lot.
Fix it: The sidewalk contains perpendicular traffic: walkers, runners, children, and sometimes cyclists. Come to a complete stop (i.e., keep your vehicle motionless for a full three seconds) before you get to the spot where the sidewalk intersects with the parking lot and look both ways, watching for oncoming traffic from both sides of the sidewalk and the road before proceeding.
Mistake #3: Using the center two-way left turn lane as a driving lane.
Fix it: Think of the center lane as a transition lane — you’re using it to transition from one street, or a parking lot, to the opposite side of the road. Don’t travel in this lane for more than 100 feet.
Mistake #4: Not correctly parking in a perpendicular spot, including running into the curb.
Fix it: Sometimes when we rush parking or enter a spot at too high a speed, we end up bumping into the curb. Take your time to pull reasonably in the middle of the parking space, and ease into the spot to avoid pulling too far forward.
Mistake # 5: Stopping right at the spot where the stop sign is placed.
Fix it: Did you know that you’re supposed to stop prior to the painted “stop line” in the street? Your front bumper should be just behind that painted line. If there is no painted stop line, but there is a crosswalk, come to a complete stop with your bumper just behind the crosswalk (not on the crosswalk). If there is no crosswalk, then come to a complete stop just before where the crosswalk or stop line would be. From there, inch forward until you can fully see the intersection and safely proceed.
Mistake #6: Not using your turn signal, or turning it on too early or too late.
Fix it: Use your turn signal whenever you make a turn or whenever you switch lanes, including when you enter a turn lane. Flip your turn signal on when you are approximately 100 feet away from entering a turn lane, or four seconds prior to changing lanes.
Mistake #7: When making a left turn, pulling into an intersection without yielding on a green light.
Fix it: You must yield to whatever vehicles are stopped before you and proceed when it is your turn and when it is safe. You must never enter any intersection unless it is clear for you to execute your turning maneuver without stopping or stalling. This includes if you have a green light or green arrow. If safety is in question, you must yield to any vehicle or pedestrian, even if they are executing an illegal maneuver.
Mistake #8: Driving at an improper speed.
Fix it: You must always maintain a speed that is safe for the given conditions, but never exceed the speed limit. Many people “go with the flow” of traffic that is traveling at a speed over the limit. In neighborhoods where there are no speed limit signs posted, the default speed limit is 25 mph, although the appropriate speed for the conditions in neighborhoods is usually 15 to 20 mph.
Mistake #9: Going too slow or too fast through a school zone.
Fix it: For all school zones or school crosswalks, the speed expected is the same as with any other street: Don’t exceed the speed limit and don’t exceed whatever is safe for the conditions. Watch for temporary signs posted, usually in the middle of the road, that indicate you must observe a 15 mph speed limit. In this case, you must be under or at 15 mph by the time your vehicle reaches the first sign, and maintain less than 15 mph until you have passed the last sign facing your direction, after you’ve passed completely through the crosswalk. Sometimes there will be signs with published conditional speed limits and flashing lights indicating a certain block of time when the speed limit drops.
Mistake #10: Not making lane changes properly.
Fix it: Whether you are changing lanes, entering turn lanes, or merging lanes, your lateral maneuver must be completed smoothly and safely. This means always checking your blind spot and always using your turn signals appropriately. Remember that each lane change is considered one maneuver; if you are making multiple lane changes, you must turn off your signal after completing one lane change and turn it on again if you are making an additional lane change.
Do you need assistance fixing a specific driving mistake? Or are you getting ready to take a driving test and want help so you can ace it? At Stop and Go Driving School, we are experts at patiently helping you correct driving errors and learn safe, proper driving habits. Find a driving course today.