The Top 5 Driving Habits that Cause Car Accidents and How to Break Them

Published: March 6, 2023

Driving is an everyday activity that most of us take for granted, but it’s also one of the most dangerous things we do. Even a small mistake can have a devastating impact on our or somebody else’s life. In this article, we’ll explore the top 5 driving habits that increase the risk of an accident and provide tips on how to break them. By following these tips and adopting safe driving practices, you can keep yourself and others safe on the road.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of car accidents and one of the worst habits among drivers. Distracted driving refers to any activity that takes your attention away from the road, such as texting, talking on the phone, eating, or adjusting the radio. According to the NHTSA, 3,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers, in 2020. Despite new hands-free technologies in both smartphones and cars, distracted driving accidents persist.

To avoid distracted driving, it’s important to minimize any distractions around you. This means putting your phone away, finishing any meal before driving off or avoiding any other activities that would take your focus away from the road. Many smartphones have a feature to enable “driving mode” that automatically sends texts to anyone that is trying to reach you saying you are currently driving and you will respond when your vehicle is stopped. 


Tailgating, or following cars too closely, is a dangerous driving habit that can result in rear-end collisions. When you’re tailgating, you simply don’t have enough time to react to the car in front of you or any serious event that is forthcoming. A general rule of thumb is to maintain a distance of 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you. This will give you enough time to react and safely avoid collisions on the road.

Tailgating is especially dangerous when combined with speeding cars that are trying to weave their way in and out of traffic. Speeding, alone, was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities, in 2020. If a car is tailgating you, act rationally. It can be very frustrating to have someone riding close behind you as you are concerned about your safety and well-being, but these emotions can distract you from paying attention to the road in front of you. 

The best thing you can do is to turn on your turn signal, to let the driver know you are merging, check your passenger mirror, check your blind spot over your shoulder, and safely and gradually merge into the next lane. At the end of the day, it’s not worth it to get emotional on the road as this can only lead to accidents.

Not Using Turn Signals

Failing to use turn signals is another bad driving habit that can increase the risk of accidents. Turn signals are essential for communicating your intentions to other drivers, and not using them can lead to confusion and misunderstandings on the road. Not using turn signals can also result in traffic violations and burn a hole in your wallet. 

To avoid this bad habit, always use your turn signal when changing lanes, ideally at least 5 seconds before, and use your turn signal at least 100 feet before turning, to give drivers behind you enough time to understand your intentions.

This helps create a predictable driving environment and ensures that other drivers can anticipate your movements. Remember that turn signals are there for a reason, so use them every time you need to change lanes or turn to avoid accidents. 

Checking Blind Spots

Failing to check your blind spots before changing lanes is another bad driving habit that can lead to serious accidents. Blind spots are areas around your vehicle that you can’t see in your mirrors, and they hide other vehicles or objects on the road. When you change lanes without checking your blind spots, you risk colliding with another vehicle that you didn't see. 

To avoid this bad habit, it’s important to always check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging into traffic. You can do this by looking over your shoulder to check for other vehicles or using blind spot mirrors or sensors. Failing to check your blind spots can result in serious accidents, so always take the time to check before changing lanes. 

Driving While Fatigued or Drunk

Driving while fatigued or under the influence of drugs or alcohol is one of the worst and most dangerous habits that increase the risk of accidents. 

When you’re fatigued, your reaction times are slower, and you're more likely to make poor decisions while driving. The National Safety Council estimates that drowsy driving is responsible for 100,000 accidents, 800 fatalities, and 50,000 injuries annually. 

Similarly, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs can impair your judgment, reaction times, and vision, making it difficult to drive safely. According to the NHTSA, 32 people are killed in drunk driving crashes per day in the U.S. These numbers are even higher during the holidays. According to Dawson & Rosenthal, 40% of highway deaths over the winter holidays are alcohol-related. Drunk Driving is not only dangerous, but it’s also illegal and can result in serious consequences, such as a DUI, fines, license suspension, or even jail time.

It’s important to get enough rest before driving if you’re ever fatigued or under the influence. Additionally, there are many affordable rideshare options out there to get you home safely. Remember that safety is the top priority when you are on the road.

Breaking bad habits is crucial for road safety. By focusing on the road, maintaining distance, using turn signals, checking blind spots, and avoiding driving when drowsy or under the influence, we can reduce accidents and keep ourselves and others safe. Safe driving is a personal responsibility and duty to others who share the road.

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