How to Break Bad Driving Habits

Posted Monday, Aug 24, 2020

Author: Benjamin Rangel


As soon as you earn your driving license and start hitting the road solo, the sense of freedom can be very empowering. There’s no need to worry about tests or the watchful eye of your instructor anymore because you are going at it alone. However, a license doesn’t grant you free rein to do whatever you want on the road. It’s important to play by the rules and work with the skills you learned in your lessons. You see, as you get used to taking your car out unsupervised, it’s very easy for bad habits to sneak their way into your driving. 


We’re going to explore some of the most common bad driving habits we see out on the road. Unfortunately, there are many to choose from, so we’ve boiled it down to a few of the worst habits you can acquire.


Sharp Turning



Sudden braking will cause rapid spikes in temperature in the braking system. Heating components in the braking system will warp the rotors in the car's wheels, causing a big overall decrease in braking efficiency. Because most cars are front-wheel drive and rely on front brakes, and the more you slam on the brake suddenly, the brake system will become stressed and begin to degrade faster.



Before vehicles became as sophisticated as they are today, yes, short journeys were bad for your vehicle. While it is not quite as bad anymore, there are still a few things to keep in mind that will help reduce the wear and tear to your vehicle and prolong its life. Here are the basics:


Battery life. Vehicles may be a lot more sophisticated, but batteries are still limited to an extent. Most batteries will last on average around three to four years, depending on how you use your vehicle. Check the charge on your battery every few months so you don’t get an unpleasant surprise on a cold winter’s day and find a dead battery.


Alternator. The alternator’s job is to recharge the battery while the engine is running. If you take numerous short journeys it may be that you are not giving the alternator enough time to fully recharge the battery. This is another way to risk finding a dead battery one morning. However, all you need to do to avoid this happening is to take a long journey every once in a while – a drive into the countryside at the weekend or a weekend away – and your battery will be recharged by the time you get there.


Engine temperature. Allowing your car engine to reach its optimum operating temperature will also go a long way towards avoiding engine wear and tear. What does this mean? Getting the oil temperature right so that it flows freely through the engine will keep things well lubricated and any problems at bay.


Clutch Riding



Vehicles with a manual transmission, riding the clutch, refers to the practice of needlessly keeping the clutch partially disengaged (common with new manual transmission drivers). Grinding your gears results in the clutch becoming unable to fully engage with the flywheel and so causes premature wear on the disc and flywheel. This bad habit can cause your gearbox to slip out of place, unfortunately, a loose gearbox will allow your vehicle a chance to wander off without you inside.



There are tons of terrible driving habits out there, but one of the most annoying ones in my opinion is the inability to use a turn signal. While it may not seem like a big deal, it's a huge problem. According to a study by The Society of Automotive Engineers, turn signal neglect in the United States causes about two million crashes per year.


Curb Parking



When easing into a parking space, it can be tempting to inch in until your tires bump into the curb. When you do this, you risk damaging your tires. It can also cause alignment issues and could cause your tires to become unbalanced.





Tailgating another driver can be taken as aggressive and intimidating behavior and may cause road rage in the person you are tailgating. Tailgating is also frequently used by frustrated drivers (Mainly due to a slower driver they can not pass or unforeseen road conditions.



Lane jumping is a dangerously bad driving habit (especially at high speeds), driving too close to another vehicle will not allow you to break as soon as possible. Driving without efficient space from the drivers around you makes you unpredictable, and just because you know what lane you should have been in, it doesn't mean other road users do.



Resting your hand on the gear selector knob transmits forces that cause the selector fork to come into metal-to-metal contact with the rotating collar. The result is premature wear and damage to both the selector's fork and the dog's clutch collar.



Speeding Over Speed Bumps. Similar to hitting potholes at high speed, going over a speed bump too quickly is another driving habit that can compromise your car's alignment. Hitting a speed bump can put a dent in your bumpers or damaged components in the undercarriage.




Don't ignore the dashboard warning because you won't reach home if you are unaware of the dashboard warning sign. Also, the little dashboard light indicators and sounds your car want to tell you, such as engine light, temperature warning, unusual noises, brake system, and so on. Addressing these warning signals will make for longer life in your vehicle. 



Impurities can get into your engine and fuel system but if you drive with the warning light on, any remaining fuel is used up, forcing dirt through your fuel system and into the engine. Some sediments can get past the filter and infiltrate your fuel pump and engine, potentially damaging them beyond repair.


Once you’ve received your driver's license, it takes a bit of effort to keep your driving at test standard. Everyone develops in their own way. Bad driving habits are rife on the roads everywhere. Remember, though, that just because other people are flexible with the rules doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Be part of the solution rather than the problem and kick bad driving habits to the curb!