Every year public authorities in Australia invest millions of dollars in public awareness campaigns to alert drivers to the risks associated with speeding, drunk driving and fatigued driving. While these behaviours have a deserved reputation for being dangerous, there are other seemingly innocuous driving behaviours and situations that can place you at significant risk of having an accident.
Here are nine things you should never do while driving.
1. Swat an insect
While mobile phone distraction gets a lot of well-deserved bad press for causing car accidents, attempting to deal with insects in your car is just as distracting as sending texts. In fact, trying to swat an insect is one of the most common causes of distraction-related car accidents. So, if you find an insect in your car, don’t try kill or evict it while the car is in motion.
2. Brake while cornering
Because few driving activities put your car’s tyres under more pressure than cornering, you need to reduce the demands on your tyres as much as possible while taking a bend. Braking while cornering can easily push your tyres beyond their limits, causing loss of traction and control of your vehicle. So always brake before you enter a corner.
3. Drive too slowly
Speeding tends to get a lot of bad press when it comes to causing accidents, but driving well below the speed limit is equally dangerous. If you drive too slowly, particularly on roads with high posted speed limits, your car can resemble a stationary object to other vehicles travelling at the posted speed limit. With this in mind, keep your speed within 10 km/h of the posted speed limit.
4. Generate wheelspin
Generating wheelspin may entertain onlookers and give you a rush of adrenaline, but it does so at the cost of your tyres. During wheelspin car tyres will reach temperatures that cause rubber to evaporate, significantly reducing the gripping power of your tyres. This will only become apparent to you when you’re in an accident scenario and are unable to control or stop your vehicle.
5. Lose your temper
Succumbing to road rage can be as dangerous as drinking a six pack of beer before you get in the car. Like alcohol, rage will lower your inhibitions and increase your likelihood of indulging in risky behaviours like speeding, sudden acceleration and tailgating. At the same time, you may provoke another driver into an aggressive response, radically increasing the accident risk for both of you.
6. Open your glovebox
Need something in your glovebox while you are driving? Leave it there until you come to a stop. Taking something out of a glovebox takes your attention off the road for several seconds and causes you to take a hand off the steering wheel, just as your risk of involvement in an accident spikes.
7. Let your passengers ride without seatbelts
Even at low speeds, car accidents unleash immense forces. These forces will convert any unrestrained passengers in your vehicle into extremely heavy human cannonballs. Once the impact stops your car, these human cannonballs will continue moving forward, and are highly likely to collide with you and cause you to collide with other parts of your car interior.
8. Try to defog your windscreen with a heater
If the inside of your windscreen starts fogging up when cold weather hits, your first instinct may be to turn on your car heater. This can be very dangerous, as the hot air from the heater will cause further condensation as it comes into contact with the windscreen. If your windows are fogging up, turn on the air conditioner to match the interior temperature with the windscreen temperature.
One major cause of car accidents is… car accidents. The area around an accident scene is usually packed with hazards ranging from pieces of car debris, disoriented accident victims and other drivers who have been distracted by the wreck. These scenes therefore require even better concentration than normal, and rubbernecking to catch a glimpse of the accident scene is extremely risky.
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