Succumbing to common driving mistakes can negate your entire arsenal of driving skills. A successful driver is only as good as his or her last error-free drive. I wrote of driver distraction last week as a major crash-causer — driver errors are a result of that distraction.
Concentration is paramount while tending the wheel — it only takes one foul-up to spoil an otherwise successful day of driving. Unfortunately, blunders are quite typical — leading to accidents and even road rage.
When driving, devote due diligence to the task and don’t commit these slipups:
Stopping beyond the line
In every state, the proper stopping spot is at the wide, white line. This designated stop line appears at most signs and lights. It bothers me that huge numbers of drivers make their stops past this line, and it’s especially aggravating when I do it myself!
When no line is present, the proper place to stop is where your front bumper aligned with the stop sign or just shy of the marked crosswalk. At times, stopping in the right place might not allow you to see cross traffic. In those cases, first stop at the correct spot, then pull forward enough to check for traffic. Legally, you have “run” the sign or light once you have passed the stop line, even if you stop shortly thereafter.
Police officers tell me that hardly anyone makes complete stops at stop signs. It’s more common to almost stop, but continue rolling while quick-checking traffic and “hitting the gas.”
Complete stops take place when the vehicle has ceased to move. Take an extra second to accomplish this — it might keep you from being ticketed and will certainly make your intersection crossing safer.
Maintaining a steady speed matching the flow of traffic is best. Be conscious of your speed, keeping it constant and in relation to posted limits. Doing so will make your actions predictable and allow vehicles around you to better intermingle.
Turn into the closest available lane when leaving a driveway, parking lot or adjoining street. Angling into the wrong lane immediately after turning is common, but unsafe and irritating. If you must move to a different lane after turning, signal and do so after first occupying the proper lane for a reasonable period.
Failing to signal
Drivers are of three types: those who signal, those who do not signal, and those who become agitated by those who do not signal.
It’s better for everyone if your intentions to turn are indicated by a signal at least 100 feet before the turn. When it comes to making turns, the only thing worse than not using you signal is activating it after initiating your turn.
It is illegal to block an intersection with your vehicle. It’s also hazardous and madding to other drivers. Drivers must look ahead to avoid being blockers to cross traffic. If there is not sufficient room on the other side of the intersection, one should stop short of the intersection until traffic ahead clears.
Think of cross streets as railroad crossings. You would not likely stop on the tracks in the potential path of a train, so treat intersections the same way.
Fighting off distraction in earnest will go a long way toward avoiding driving errors. Since those errors cause ire, mayhem and death, not committing them is a worthy endeavor.
Readers may contact Bill Love via e-mail at email@example.com.