By Michael Phelan
Published: Thursday, December 30, 2021
Bad habits die hard. They’re one of the main reasons we make New Year’s resolutions, but do we ever think about making a few changes to the way we drive?
Diet, get fit, save money, find a better work-life balance and learn to play the electric accordion are just some of the promises we make to ourselves each year. Whether or not we stick to them is another matter. Spoiler: I never do.
To change habits, we must be aware of our behaviours in the first place. Now, looking in the mirror and acknowledging your flaws can be a bit tricky. Let’s face it, no-one wants to do that.
That’s why samotor has put together a list of bad driving habits we’ve all been guilty of from time-to-time. Maybe you can make it your New Year’s resolution to change them.
Picture this: you get back to your car after doing some shopping and find someone has parked ‘artistically’ across the white line into your bay. Now, you need to play a bit of car limbo, opening your door without hitting their car and sliding in like a contortionist at cirque du soleil.
There’s an easy way to avoid this. Park straight in the centre of a bay so people can get in and out of adjacent vehicles. When parallel parking, make sure you position your vehicle in the middle of the parking bay. If there are no marked bays, allow at least one metre from the vehicle in front of you and any vehicle behind. That ensures there is enough room between your vehicle and other parked vehicles so that everyone can get out without damage or having to wait for the other driver to move their vehicle.
One last thing: never park in disabled spots. Leave them for permit holders. Stopping at a disabled park is not only inconsiderate but it could also set you back $405 plus $92 Victims of Crime Levy.
Rebel without a cause
You’re cruising down the highway, stereo cranked up, the windows down and your arm’s resting on the driver’s door. You tap your fingers on the side of the car to the beat of the music, and wave at people you know as you pass by. Does your arm hang out of the window at any point? If it does, you’re breaking the law. It’s a $201 fine plus $92 Victims of Crime Levy. Keep both hands on the wheel where they belong.
This goes for any part of your body – so don’t poke your head out to feel the cool breeze on your face. Don’t let your beloved dog do it, either. Anything sticking out of your vehicle that could cause injury to someone or damage another vehicle could land you in hot water. Play it safe and keep everything secure inside the vehicle, whether it’s surfboards, furniture, building supplies or even replica lightsabers.
Don’t drive so close to me
Say to yourself, “one, one thousand. Two, one thousand. Three, one thousand.” That should take about three seconds. This is the minimum distance you need to keep from the vehicle in front of you while driving at 60km/h. Tailgating is disrespectful to fellow motorists and causes them undue stress and agitation. It’s also dangerous because it gives you less time to react if you need to brake suddenly.
If you’re involved in a crash while tailgating, repair bills won’t be the only thing you’ll have to worry about. Failure to keep a safe distance behind other vehicles could result in a $365 fine and a $92 Victims of Crime Levy, plus one demerit point.
On nearly every drive, you’ll need to change lanes. Don’t just turn on the indicator, take a sideways glance and push in. When indicating, give motorists enough time to know your intention and see that flashing indicator light. Check both the side mirror and rear-vision mirror for any vehicles. Don’t forget to check your blind spots, then when it’s safe, pull into the next lane.
Caution: most modern side mirrors make objects appear further away than they really are so check the interior mirror as well to confirm the distance between vehicles BEFORE changing lanes.
The traffic light turns from green to amber. What do you do? You should stop if it’s safe to do so. But if it’s not, you can drive through an amber light.
Don’t gun it just to make it through the traffic light cycle. It’s reckless and you could end up running a red light. This could potentially cost you $505 plus $92 Victims of Crime Levy and three demerit points. If you’re waiting at the lights, pay attention to the traffic signals so you’re not sitting idle when it turns green.
Lastly, don’t enter an intersection unless there is sufficient room for your vehicle on the other side, otherwise your vehicle could block traffic, pedestrians and other road users.
This isn’t Bathurst and you’re not Peter Brock so slow down on the road. Each year, speeding is one of the biggest causes of accidents and fatalities on our roads. Always stick to the speed limit. It doesn’t matter if you’re only going one kilometre over, it’s still an offence. Speeding fines start at $183 plus $92 Victims of Crime Levy for driving between 1-9km over the speed limit. You’ll also lose two demerit points. In the most extreme cases, exceeding the speed limit by 45km/hr or more, you’re looking at a $1722 expiation fee plus $92 Victims of Crime Levy and a whopping 9 demerit points
Maybe the worst bad habit you should break in the new year is using your mobile phone while driving. Come to think of it, you shouldn’t even have to break it – you shouldn’t do it! Texting, looking at social media or making phone calls on your mobile phone while driving is dangerous and can have serious consequences. It can cause accidents, injuries and even death. Put the phone away. Driving distracted is an offence that could cost you $201 plus a $92 Victims of Crime Levy.