The holiday season is upon us, and we are taking to the roadways to be with our family and friends. As we drive with holiday cheer, lets make sure that we are not driving with these five unsafe (and irritating) habits.
- Aggressive Driving: Speeding; Tailgating; Running Red Lights/Stop Signs; Improper Passing; Weaving; Failing to Yield the Right of Way; and Driving on a Roadway Emergency Lane are all considered aggressive driving in Maryland. In fact, aggressive driving is illegal in Maryland. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) safety study offers some simple, yet proven, advice to stop aggressive driving; and that is, plan ahead, and allow yourself extra time.
- Driving While Distracted: Whether it is using your cell phone, texting, eating, applying makeup, or looking at anything on the side of the roadway, all are considered distracted driving. All of these activities can distract your visual, manual, and/or cognitive ability to operate your vehicle safely.
More than 9 people are killed (and over an additional 1,100 are injured) in automobile crashes involving a distracted driver every day in the U.S. Even though this can be a deadly habit that can, too, harm others, it has been reported by the CDC that 69% of drivers have talked on their cell phone while driving, and 31% of drivers have texted and/or emailed while driving.
In Maryland, using a cell phone with a hands-free device (such as a Bluetooth) is legal. However, using a hands-free device while driving should not cause you to put your guard down, because talking on your cell phone while driving (with or without “hands”) can still be a distraction cognitively.
- Bad Parking: Although this habit is likely not to harm anyone, doing so, can hurt your wallet. For example, if you are in a paid parking lot and/or garage, it is common for the facility to double charge you since you are (well) using two spots (or worse, may tow your car costing you hundreds of dollars). If you are parking in a public spot, some parking authorities may be permitted to issue tickets for this. So, moral of the story, be courteous and do not be a parking hog.
- Not Wearing a Seatbelt: Whether you are a passenger or driver (front seat or back seat), not wearing a seatbelt is increasing your odds of being ejected from the vehicle and dying. In fact, it is reported that every week over 80 people in Maryland are injured in crashes where they were not wearing a seatbelt. Maryland's Click It or Ticket program has been created to try to save lives and void this deadly habit.
- Not Using A Turn Signal: Using a turn signal is one of the only ways to “speak” to other drivers on the roadway, to inform others of your intended movements. Not using your turn signal timely leaves other drivers left to guess your movements, which is a recipe for driving other drivers crazy and a collision.
Be mindful that, during your travels during this holiday season, although some of your bad driving habits in your home state may be legal, such habits could be illegal in the state you are traveling to. Which is even more reason to kick these habits.