Being a good driver means making sure you follow the rules of the road, but it means more than just paying attention to what you’re doing behind the wheel. A lot of driving has to do with keeping your eyes open for other drivers.
Thinking that everyone else is just a bad driver without understanding why can impact you negatively on the road, making you a skittish and hesitant driver. Instead, take a minute to understand what other drivers may be dealing with and you can adjust your driving habits to make sure you maintain your confidence and avoid getting into a car accident.
1. Not All Drivers Are Qualified to Be Behind the Wheel
Don’t assume that everyone driving on the road is qualified to be there. Unfortunately, there are some people who are driving vehicles that they aren’t qualified to drive.
For example, many behaviors can constitute grounds for revoking a commercial driver’s license, but according to The Gomez Firm, it doesn’t always happen. For example, truck “drivers must self-report traffic violations to their state of residence and/or to their employer. Not all drivers will follow through with the expected reporting requirements when you consider how reporting certain violations may prevent drivers from fulfilling their work duties from a period of months to years.”
People may be on the road driving motorcycles, scooters, vans, and other vehicles they technically aren’t qualified to drive. Even someone driving a bulky truck may not operate the vehicle like they should simply because they aren’t used to its size.
2. Many Drivers Wouldn’t Be Able to Pass a Driving Test
There are plenty of drivers out there who aren’t very good at driving, even if they are behind the wheel of a regular car. The unfortunate truth is that about 33 million Americans would be unable to get their license if they had to retake the written test.
Fortunately, the written test is different than the act of driving, which means many of these people aren’t completely incompetent. But, it does mean that they may not know basic road rules, like who has the right of way at a stop sign or how to use a roundabout.
3. Most People Think They Are Good at Multitasking
Just because you’re focusing on the road doesn’t mean everyone else is. It’s easy to get complacent behind the wheel, which means many people try and do other things while they’re driving.
Although most people think they can multitask, the truth is, our brains are not capable of multitasking. Whether someone else is trying to eat, put on makeup, or send a quick text message, they are switching between focusing on operating the vehicle and whatever activity they have decided to do behind the wheel, so they aren’t paying attention to the road like they should.
4. Most People Are Distracted
There are a lot of things that can distract people behind the wheel. Texting and talking on the phone or common, but other distractions include:
- Adjusting interior controls
- Eating and drinking
It’s especially likely that drivers are distracted if they are driving a route that they drive all the time. It’s easy to drive on autopilot, which means you get to your destination and don’t really remember how you got there. Be especially mindful when driving during rush hour, as more of these types of drivers will be on the road.
5. Driving Tired Is Just as Bad as Driving Drunk, Yet Most People Do It All the Time
Most people know to look out for drunk drivers after the sun goes down, but did you know people are getting behind the wheel throughout the day who are just as bad at driving, even though they haven’t consumed any alcohol?
According to recent research, getting less than five hours of sleep is the same as being drunk when it comes to driving. Even more concerning is the fact that 20 percent of fatal crashes can be attributed to drowsy driving.
Not only should you be on the lookout for drunk drivers at night, but you should also be wary of drivers first thing in the morning when they’re driving drowsy.
6. Not Everyone Understands or Cares About Driving Etiquette
Driving is about more than just the rules of the road. There are a lot of things you won’t find on a driving test that make dealing with other drivers easier. Unfortunately, some drivers don’t know or don’t care.
Some etiquette things that other drivers may not follow include:
- Use the left lane for passing
- Slow down in hazardous conditions
- Lay off the horn
- Avoid erratic driving
In many cases, drivers don’t engage in driving etiquette because they are dealing with road rage. Avoid these drivers when you can, and definitely don’t respond to their behavior in a negative way, as it will only make the situation worse.
7. Many Drivers Don’t Realize They Are the One Who Made the Mistake
It may be blatantly obvious to you that you’re right and the other driver is wrong. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking the other driver agrees.
Most drivers don’t realize they are the one who made the mistake. Whether they’re distracted because they’re thinking about a problem they are facing at work or they simply don’t realize who has the right of way, it’s normal for people to react badly on the road and blame everyone else for their indiscretions.
Try not engage with others who are behaving badly on the road. If you are in an accident, exchange information and call a police officer to assist without admitting fault or blaming the other driver.
There are a lot of things you can do to be a better driver yourself, but one of the best things you can do is understand what other people are going through behind the wheel. It will make you more understanding and compassionate, which will make you a better defensive driver.