Bad driving habits, why do they happen?We all had to reach a certain standard of driving in order to pass our driving tests all those years ago, but since then some of us have developed bad habits when we get behind the wheel. It’s an unfortunate side effect of gaining experience, and it is definitely one that we need to try to discourage.
First of all, you need to assess whether your habits are bad, or whether they are just plain lazy. Keeping one hand resting on the handbrake or the gear stick and not replacing it on the steering wheel every time you change gear is lazy and easily fixed. Just remember it is best practice to keep your hands on the steering wheel! But other types of bad habits may not be a result of laziness.
There are many different types of bad habits. They include things like speeding, not checking all your mirrors – which includes your door mirrors and your rear view mirror, driving too close to other cars and not signalling or simply signalling too late, are also far too common. Another bad habit that many people have is putting the car into neutral before stopping.
So where do these bad habits come from? Mostly, they are caused by our bias; the “what’s worked” bias is created and fed by our superiority bias and our optimistic bias.
Our superiority bias tells us that we are better than other people; we ignore the things that show us in a negative light and concentrate only on the things that show us more positively our selective memory means that we forgive and forget the things we did badly and remember the things we have done well. At the same time we notice other people’s mistakes and failing, which means we conclude that we are much better drivers than other people.
Fuelling this is our optimistic bias; this tells us that we are much less likely to experience unpleasant events than other people. Things like health issues, crashing or being stopped by the police, so we really believe it is not going to happen to us. We are not going to lose control and have to take evasive action, so having one hand on the wheel is perfectly okay. I think you get the picture.
This brings us to the ‘what’s worked’ bias. We will simply keep doing what we have always done because it is working for us. For example if we drive above the speed limit and get to work on time and we don’t get caught, we subconsciously think “well that worked” so it goes on and on. We also learn our bad driving from other drivers. Our friends and relatives, for example we see them doing the lazy stuff and see they are getting away with it to, so it must be okay.
Once we no longer have our driving instructor in the car with us, there’s no one to correct these poor habits. There are a lot of good reasons to get rid of these bad habits, of course. Driving more skilfully can mean there are fewer collisions on the roads and can make you feel safer and more secure when you drive. It can also mean that, if you are involved in an accident, it is less likely to be your fault and you will be more likely to take the correct evasive action if you ever need to.
Keeping the good habits and skills you used to pass your driving test, will pay dividends in the long run, not only on fuel saving and less wear and tear on the car, it may also save your life. We all know how annoying a fire drill is in work or collage, but if there is ever a real fire and everyone gets out, then all the practice runs have suddenly been worth it. It is the same for driving. For example, checking the blind spot 1000’s of times without anything being there is just 1000’s practice drills for the time someone will be there and you have avoided a collision just by looking, so you will be glad you practiced!