If we asked you if you’re a safe driver, you’d probably say yes. But when we start getting specific about dangerous habits behind the wheel, it turns out most Australians have admitted to being not so safe on our roads.
A poll of 925 Australian motorists revealed what their riskiest driving habits are, and according to Finder’s Safe driving Report 2021 more than half of Aussie drivers admitted to practising dangerous habits.
In Fact, out of the hundreds of Aussies polled 45% said they’ve eaten food while driving, 28% admitted having driven while wearing thongs, 13% have answered a text and used their mobile phone while in the driver’s seat, and 7% have even driven using their knees!
When it comes to states, South Australians are the worst offenders, with more than two-thirds (70%) admitting to reckless driving habits. New South Wales drivers are by far the safest, with 44% claiming they’ve never done anything risky behind the wheel. Western Australians are the most likely to have driven in thongs (40%), in comparison to only 24% of drivers in Victoria, and Queenslanders and South Australians have a bad habit of eating behind the wheel, with nearly half of drivers (49%) admitting to snacking on the road.
Whether you’re guilty of driving dangerously or not, we’ve listed safe driving tips every motorist should follow to help ensure the roads are a safe place for all.
Cut out distractions
Anything that diverts your attention away from the task of driving is a possible danger. Your split-second reactions could mean the difference between being in a crash or avoiding one. So, stay focused and give driving your full attention – even if that means ignoring the bickering children in the back seat or refraining from doing your makeup in the car.
Fuel yourself before the drive
The fuel you put in your body before jumping behind the wheel is just as important as the fuel you put in your car. But the important thing to bear in mind is to eat before driving and not during.
Dress the part
Thongs don’t provide a lot of grip. When you’re driving you need to be able to get a firm grasp of break and accelerator pads for good traction. If you wear thongs while driving and they get caught under the pedals it can restrict the movement of your feet and potentially cause dangerous accidents. That’s why it’s important to steer clear of thongs and always wear proper shoes.
Scan the road
Many crashes happen because people are so focussed on the car in front of them that they forget to be aware of their surroundings. Always scan ahead and around the car to anticipate accidents before they happen.
Did you know it can take up to 13 metres to stop a regular car doing just 48 km/h? and the distance is even greater if your tyres are under inflated, or the road is wet and slippery. Keep ample space between you and the car in front and increase that space at higher speeds.
Drive to conditions
Many conditions can pose their own unexpected threats. These include rain and storms, wind, gravel, icy roads, glare and driving at night. Remember to drive to the conditions you’re dealt with and always drive within your comfort zone. Slowing right down will also help you absorb an unfamiliar environment and drive with more confidence.
Keep an eye out for blind spots
Before changing lanes, always check over your shoulder first to avoid any blind spots. You can also help to reduce blind spots by ensuring your side mirrors are turned out far enough to see the entire width of the lanes beside you.
Restrain children and pets securely
Double check your pets are restrained correctly. And then check again. You can’t be too careful when it comes to your precious cargo. Passengers, including yourself, should also be properly restrained with a seatbelt.
Give yourself a break
Take regular breaks every couple of hours and, and if you can, swap drivers. Stop frequently for food and drinks to re-energise and rehydrate. If possible, try and avoid driving at night or travelling for longer than 8 hours in one go.
Plan your route
If you’re heading to a new destination or you’re not sure about where you’re going, there’s more scope for making mistakes. Before you hit the road, choose the safest route, and use your car’s GPS system so you aren’t reaching for your phone. If you do need to use the map on your phone, always make sure it’s secure in a phone mount towards the centre of the windscreen to avoid a distraction that could turn dangerous.
It’s safe driving 101. The first thing you should always insure before driving towards the sunset is ensuring you and your passengers are all buckled up. Wearing a seat belt is the law. It could also save a life or reduce the impact of injuries caused to passengers in a car accident.
Keep your hand off it
Above all, do not use your phone while driving. It might be tempting to quickly reply to your mum’s text message or swipe left to change the song on your favourite playlist but the risk and fine for using your mobile phone behind the wheel isn’t worth it.