10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving

Reaching in the back seat while driving

This month, we talked about avoiding common driving practices that are very dangerous. Here’s a list to all 10 parts plus the supplemental article.

Part 1: Reading While Driving

Part 2: Avoid Texting While Driving

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Part 7: Grabbing Something Out of Reach

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Part 9: Road Raging

Part 10: The Stats

Supplemental: Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Part 9: Road Raging

Road rage - angry driver shouting in his car

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

It’s common for drivers to get upset.  Many times a person is distraught in some way before they even enter their car – a disappointment occurred, an argument happened, a trauma was experienced.  Road rage is not just getting upset at another driver.  All a motorist needs to do is be in a negative mindset.

Driving with a negative mindset is dangerous.  It causes mental distraction affecting one’s ability to concentrate.  Getting angry at another driver (regardless of who’s fault it is) may cause a person to drive more aggressively.  It’s an accident waiting to happen.

If you find yourself in a negative mindset, get calm and collected as soon as possible – preferably before starting your drive.  Don’t put anyone’s life in danger, including life of your passengers, because you are having a bad day.  It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it.

Choose to drive safely.  If you find your ire increasing, do what it takes to settle things down for the sake of yourself, those who may be riding with you and for those who are in the other vehicles around you.

Part 8: Eating and Driving

Eating and Driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Eating some chips or a piece of fruit may not cause an accident for most people as long as retrieving the food does not mean grabbing for something out of reach.  However, if your teen is inexperienced or has a learning disability, the risk of a crash increases almost 3X over those who did not eat.

The distraction could happen when they tip up the bag to get the last chip crumbs.  It might be if sauce drips on their shirt or pants, and their eyes are diverted from the road as they grab a napkin to wipe up the mess.  Moments such as these can be the difference between life and death.

Help your inexperienced driver(s) to drive safely.  Discourage them from eating while driving.

Driving, Teens, and Learning Disabilities — Something You Need to Know

Driving Distractions - texting and driving

Has your teen started driving yet?  Every good parent is concerned when their teen starts driving.

Teaching any child to drive can be a quite an encounter.  When a teen has a learning disability, it can increase the challenge. For example, consider that distraction is the leading cause of crashes among all drivers.  Cell phones ringing.  Interesting happenstance on the side of the road.  Taking your eyes off the road for just 2 seconds doubles the chance of either being in or near a crash.

For a teen with ADHD, staying focused on the road may be especially hard.  Impulsivity issues increase the risk of an accident.  In some cases, a teen with ADHD may be more likely to speed.  Depending on your teen’s unique combination of challenges, they may be up to four times more likely to be in a crash.  (Thankfully, ADHD medications may significantly reduce the risk.)

Other challenges can include visual and spatial issues that can affect perception of left and right, judging distances or even reading a map.  Executive functioning issues affect your teen’s ability to quickly make decisions to deal with driving circumstances such as a missed exit or a road detour.  Teens with dyspraxia can have a hard time coordinating body movements and hand-eye coordination.

  • Each teen’s challenges are unique to them, so keep these points in mind as you help them learn to drive.
  • Recognize the issues and that they can impact all driving.
  • Be sure their driving instructor knows the unique topics that should be addressed.
  • Recognize that it may take longer for your child to learn to drive, and they may need more practice.

Having the right insurance for your teen driver is very important.  Contact us and one of our agents will be glad to help you find the best insurance for you.

Part 6: Changing Clothes or Applying Makeup

Doing makeup while driving

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There’s an old saying: “It’s a car crash waiting to happen.”  That proverb applies easily when a person is trying to change clothes while driving.  It involves taking your hands off the steering wheel, interrupts your foot’s contact with the brake or gas pedal, and obscures your eyes from seeing the road.  The risk is increased significantly by the chance that you could become entangled by your clothes.

In the same way, applying makeup while driving causes great distraction.  You cannot be focused on your road and surroundings when your eyes are occupied in the mirror to properly apply your makeup. Be patient. Do your makeup beforehand or after you arrive at your destination.

Choose to drive safely.  Change clothes and/or apply makeup either before you leave or after your arrive at your destination.

Part 5: Driving with Headphones

Driving with Headphones

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

There are two ways that we perceive what is happening around us when we drive:  sight and sound.  If you are using headphones when you drive, you eliminate half of your perception!

You might wonder how deaf people drive. Because they are used to being deaf, they are more alert.  On the other hand, a person wanting to listen to “I Can’t Drive 55” by Sammy Hagar isn’t used to not hearing what is happening in her driving environment.  Consequently, he or she will not be as focused.

There are important sounds that you need to hear when you drive.  Roadway sounds let you hear the environment around you.  For example, if you change lanes and someone warns you that they already occupy that space by honking their horn, headphones keep you from hearing the horn.  A crash could happen.

Two other important sounds can be missed when driving with headphones.  Car problems are often found by hearing what is happening in the engine while driving.  In addition, emergency vehicles need you to get out of the way when they are trying to get to an emergency.  Headphones may block out the sound of an approaching emergency vehicle.

Choose to drive safely.  Keep your ears clear so that you can avoid emergencies instead of getting involved in one.

Part 4: Driving with Something or Someone in your Lap

Dog driving a car

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

Seeing a car moving down the road with a big dog head leaning out the back window often causes a smile. Unfortunately, it is common for people to drive with their pet or even their child in their lap, and that is unsafe.

For the driver, they are trying to show care and affection as they pet their dog (or other animal).  It is not as common to see a child sitting in their lap, but when it happens you know that the adult probably has good intentions allowing the kid to have the awesome feeling of controlling the vehicle.

It’s a recipe for disaster.

Having something in your lap while driving is a distraction.  We have already discussed distracted driving.  Adding freewill to whatever on your knees greatly increases the risk of something going wrong.  For animals, they can be unpredictable and their sudden movements can cause a crash.  For children, its simply illegal and unsafe to transport a child in a car without an appropriate car seat.

Choose to drive safely. Keep your lap unoccupied and your vehicle occupants safe.

Part 3: Driving with your Knees

(Series:  10 Dangerous Practices to Avoid While Driving)

More people than you may think drive for a few seconds at a time with their knees. Usually, they need both hands for something else for a short period of time.  In one account we read online, a person said they had seen someone actually driving down the freeway reading a newspaper which would require both knees to steer.

While driving with your knees might be convenient, it is very dangerous.  It simply is not possible to react to changes in traffic or even execute proper driving with your knees.

Choose to drive safely. Use your hands instead of your knees.