Driving Mistakes Everyone Makes

By Angela Monroe - September 7, 2020

Driving Mistakes Everyone Makes

Who out there’s a perfect driver? We’ve pretty much all done something on the roads that made other drivers shake their heads – or worse.

So what are usual suspects when it comes to common driving mistakes? We investigate…

Firstly, some quick stats…

  • In NSW, it’s illegal to deliberately drive through puddles to splash people waiting at bus stops but (technically) it’s not illegal if they’re not waiting at a bus stop
  • Tasmania has the highest number of RBTs per driver and the ACT has the least
  • Revenue from speeding fines in Australia tops $1.1 billion annually
  • Sydney’s M4 Western Motorway (Concord to M7 Westlink) is the most dangerous road in Australia

Common Driving Mistakes:

confusing street signs

Mistake 1: Over signalling and under signalling

Everyone’s either seen it, done it or both. Over signalling means giving too much warning to other drivers by turning on your signal too far before turning. People behind you are left thinking; ‘when are you gonna turn?’.

Under signalling is the opposite. It’s common when changing lanes. Drivers give only a quick flash of a turn signal before turning. This is pretty dangerous, especially at higher speeds and on busy roads.

Mistake 2: Texting at red lights

On a long drive in traffic, it can be tempting. You see and hear notifications flash up – some from your boss or partner, you’re stopped at a red light… It’s against the law in Australia to use a hand-held mobile phone while stopped at a traffic light.

Mistake 3: High beams

Automatic headlights are becoming standard in modern cars, but it seems they aren’t always perfect. Driving with high beams on and half blinding other drivers is an annoying mistake. To be clear, by ‘high beams’, we mean the maximum brightness setting on a car’s headlights.

Mistake 4: Mirrors and seating position

This is another really common one. Perhaps you share a car with another driver and don’t readjust the mirrors and seat position or have the settings to max-comfort rather than max-visibility. Often, drivers have the seat tilted back too far.

Mistake 5: Speeding through a yellow light

On one hand – why risk a collision just to save a few minutes? On the other hand – getting stuck in multiple sets of lights is really frustrating. Speeding up to blast through a yellow light that means ‘slow down and stop’ is another common mistake.

Mistake 6: Crossing lanes while turning

This means turning left or right in a multi-laned intersection and moving to the outer or inner lane of the turn. In other words, crossing lanes while making a 90 degree turn. This can make things pretty confusing (and dangerous) for drivers next to you or behind you.  

Mistake 7: Tailgating

‘Only a fool breaks the three-second rule’. Tailgating means driving too close to the car in front of you, especially at high speed. You should leave a 3-second gap at least. Tailgating results in accidents and is an avoidable mistake.

Mistake 8: Not keeping left

This one might perhaps result in someone making the mistake of tailgating. When driving at high speeds in Australia, you should keep in the left lane unless overtaking. This mistake applies to highways and faster roads.

Some Common ‘Car’ Mistakes:

leaf on car paint

Mistake 1: The cheapest fuel is (not) the best fuel

It’s tempting to use E10 or standard 91 unleaded, especially when petrol prices are high. The ‘which fuel is best’ debate has been raging for years, unless your ‘best fuel’ is electricity. Make sure you select the most efficient fuel for your car by checking with the manufacturer. You may find the cheaper fuel choices get less distance per tank, negating any savings or worse; damaging your engine or fuel system.

Mistake 2: Parking under trees

The Aussie sun is really tough but trees can be tougher. It’s tempting to park under trees for shade on a hot day but depending on the colour of your car, it’s often not worth the leaves, twigs and bird mess that fall all over your car. Smaller debris gets caught in window sills and under the windscreen wipers so give your car a good spring clean every few months.

The Bottom Line:

Driving safely (and legally) in a clean, reliable car is the goal for almost every driver on Aussie roads. Being easier said than done, achieving that goal can be tough. Make sure to avoid the common driving mistakes listed above and enjoy your daily commute.

Angela Monroe
Angela Monroe is the Community Manager at The Positive Group, specialising in giving people the information that they need when they need it, and putting you on the path to a fair financial future. She has 8 years of experience in helping Australians find the right finance solutions, and regularly contributes articles to empower Australians with the knowledge they need to become financially healthy.


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