When asked, most older adults will answer that they are excellent drivers – or at least better than many of the younger drivers on the road! Actually, research data supports that older adults are generally more conservative drivers who take fewer risks. However, as in other aspects of human life, many drivers have some bad habits that could put them at risk for a minor crash or even a ticket from law enforcement. While a minor crash may not cause injury, costs for auto repair is significantly higher with the complexity of the electronics of newer vehicles. Moreover, insurance costs always increase, even with minor scrapes.
What are these bad habits? I bet you can guess the top two! Not using turn signals and the rolling stop. Why stop when no one is there? Or why use the turn signal? In fact, good habits need to be reinforced. If you don’t stop all the time or use your signal all the time – you are more likely to not use it when it really matters!
One “bad habit” that I see consistently with drivers is turning into the wrong lane when turning right or left into a roadway that has two lanes. The law in most states (they are all different) is that you turn into the nearest lane.
Look at the blue car turning left on the picture above. It is turning into the near lane or left traveling lane. So many drivers turning left immediately go into the right traveling lane because they intend to be the right lane further down the road. However, as you can see, the green car may see the blue car turning and decide they also can turn. If the blue vehicle goes to the far lane, there will be a crash.
Another common bad habit is to get too close or too far when in stopped traffic. You should see the tires of the vehicle in front of you on the roadway! If you see less, you are too close – and would not be able to get around if the vehicle in front of you was not able to move.
Finally, always stop completely before proceeding to turn right on red. The few seconds of trying to get ahead of the oncoming traffic is truly not worth the risk.
For other points, including the correct use of a roundabout – go to this this Safe Driving Habits handout and print it out for you and your friends!