9 Driving Mistakes You Might Not Realize You Make

WRITTEN BY: Julia Matseikovich


Driving is such an everyday part of our lives that it can be easy to overlook bad practices behind the wheel. Distracted driving and speeding are unsafe, but there are other mistakes that you may be making. Keep reading for nine driving mistakes you can correct the next time you get behind the wheel and fasten your seatbelt.

Common driving mistakes

Everyone makes driving mistakes. However, it’s important to be aware of the more common ones so you can avoid them.

1. Not adjusting mirrors properly

Not adjusting mirrors properly

Side mirrors help you see other cars that are near and approaching and to help you check your blind spots. The best practice is always to adjust all the mirrors to the right position when you get into your car. You may also want to consider installing special blind spot mirrors. They’re affordable, easy to install, and help you see other vehicles.

2. Crossing lanes while turning

Crossing lanes while turning

Crossing lanes while turning isn’t just a bad habit; it’s also a traffic violation. When turning into a multi-lane road, make sure to stay in your own lane. For example, if you’re making a right turn but need to be in the left lane after that turn, you need to turn into the right lane and then make a proper lane change. 

The opposite rules apply if you’re making a left turn. Eighteen-wheelers need clearance to make wide turns, so they’re exempt from this rule.

3. Driving too close to the car in front of you

Driving too close to the car in front of you

You may be following other vehicles too close without knowing it. When driving 30 mph, a safe distance is about five car lengths behind the person in front of you. At 65 mph, your car should be at least 18 car lengths behind. 

Establish a safe following distance by waiting until the car in front of you has passed a fixed point on the road ahead, like an exit sign. Then, count to three. You’re tailgating if you pass the same point before you reach three. It’s also important to remember to increase your distance for cyclists and large trucks.

4. Driving while distracted

Driving while distracted

From eating to checking your email on your cell phone, distracted driving is a surefire way to end up in an accident. When you drive, keep your full attention on the road. When you look down or away, you can run off the road, veer into another lane, or even run into another car. If you must take a phone call while you’re driving, look into hands-free tech. If you’re getting a quick bite to eat, take a few moments to eat before you drive. Reaching your destination a few minutes later is a much better alternative. 

5. Not signaling for turns (or signaling too late/early)

Not signaling for turns

Signaling is crucial to ensuring your safety when you change lanes or turn. If you don’t use it, other drivers may not be able to accommodate you turning a corner or changing lanes in time. Always use your turn signals to instill this habit even if no other cars are around.

Neglecting to use your blinker is one of the driving mistakes involving turn signals. Using your blinker too late doesn’t give the drivers around you enough time to slow down and react. Make sure to use your turn signal before hitting your brakes. 

Utilizing your turn signal too early can also be dangerous. If you pass many turns with your signal on, motorists around you can’t prepare because they don’t know when you’ll turn.

6. Driving while tired

driving while tired

If you aren’t well-rested, your reaction times behind the wheel can suffer, leading to accidents. According to the National Sleep Foundation, almost 6,400 people died in crashes involving drowsy driving in 2021. If you’re feeling tired or fatigued, never drive long distances. Try to rest before your road trip, ask someone else to drive, or safely pull over to the side of the road if you’re too tired to drive.

7. Driving too fast (or too slow)

Driving too fast (or too slow)

You may disregard the posted speed limit when you’re late for work, but speeding will result in a ticket or an accident. It’s even more dangerous if it’s raining. Make sure to stick to the speed limits, and take advantage of your vehicle’s cruise control when possible.

Slow driving is also dangerous. Remember that the right lane is for slower-moving vehicles and the left for faster cars, or in some cases, for passing only. Slow cars in the left lane block traffic and lead to frustrated drivers speeding in the right lane to pass.

8. Zipping through yellow lights

Zipping through yellow lights

A yellow light means to slow down, never speed up. Many intersection collisions occur when someone speeds through a yellow light and gets t-boned. When traffic lights turn yellow, slow down and stop. 

Sparing yourself a ticket and keeping you and your car safe is well worth the time spent at a red light. The same applies to coming to a complete stop at a stop sign.

9. Improper use of headlights/high beams

Improper use of headlights

Having your high beams on may make it easier for you to see at night, but improper use can blind oncoming cars and distract those ahead of you. When you see another car’s headlights, turn your high beams to low beams. Also, remember that high beams can lead to reduced visibility in snow and fog.


What are the 5 most common driving errors?

The most common driving errors are speeding, tailgating, crossing lanes while turning, speeding through yellow lights, and driving while distracted.

Is it OK to make mistakes while driving?

People make mistakes, but some are more costly than others. While most driving errors will lead to tickets, other mistakes can lead to heavy penalties, serious injury, or even death.

What are the most common mistakes drivers make?

Common driving mistakes include ​​driving in the passing lane, forgetting to use turn signals, switching lanes while turning, and stopping without warning.

How common are driving mistakes?

According to John Hopkins Medicine, a driver will make 400 observations, 40 decisions, and one mistake every two minutes. That’s why it’s crucial to never assume other drivers are always paying attention and making the right decision.

Is it common for new drivers to make mistakes?

It’s normal to make mistakes, especially for new drivers. Remember that driving is something you should always strive to improve; it doesn’t end with passing a driving test. Keep the above mistakes in mind to improve your driving skills.

Get car insurance (even with driving mistakes on your record)

To err is human, but keeping the most common driving mistakes in mind can help you stay safe and ticket-free on the road. Safe driving can also lead to lower rates on your auto insurance, as good drivers are often rewarded with lower premiums.

You can still qualify for auto insurance if your driving record is less-than-perfect. Explore get car insurance rates from several companies; you know you’re getting the best deal.

Related content: