Most common errors when driving

Whether it’s spring or winter, it’s important to stay safe on the road.

Many vehicle accidents can easily be avoided if drivers practice good driving habits to avoid common mistakes. According to the National Safety Council, approximately 42,000 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2020.

To avoid serious accidents, you should be aware of some common driving mistakes so you, your passengers, and other drivers aren’t in danger on the road.

Driving while distracted

As one of the most serious driving mistakes, 3,142 people were killed by distracted driving in 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Whether you are eating food or checking your phone, it is one way to end up in an accident. When your eyes aren’t on the road, you can drift into another lane, run into other motorists, or go off the road.

Remember in New York state, it is illegal to operate a vehicle while using your smartphone or any handheld electronic device. This is a distraction and can lead to an accident. Always have two hands on the wheel and stay focused on the road. You can avoid this by using hands-free with your smartphone if you have Bluetooth or pulling over to a safe spot to take the call.


According to the NHTSA, there were 9,478 speeding-related deaths in 2019. Speeding will only get you a traffic ticket or into an accident. When speeding, it is more difficult to safely come to a complete stop. Follow the posted speed limit signs and maintain speed until you reach your destination. Don’t try to drag-race.

Slow reaction times

Never get behind the wheel if you’re under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or prescription medications that could affect your abilities to make quick decisions. Give yourself enough distance with the car in front of you.

Failure to use turn signals

When you need to make a turn, make sure to use your turn signal. This alerts drivers of your next move on road, allowing them time to plan your turn or lane change. By not using it, a motorist won’t know your move and could hit you. Always use it even if there isn’t anyone behind you.

Driving when tired

In 2019, there were 697 drowsy-driving-related deaths according to the NHTSA. If you’re tired, it can affect your reaction times. Don’t drive long distances if you’re sleepy. Try taking a nap before driving or asking someone else to drive.

Not yielding to oncoming traffic

Look carefully before crossing roadways to make sure there isn’t any oncoming traffic. It is the law to yield to other vehicles.

Make sure to yield to:

  • Pedestrians: Motorists should yield to pedestrians in marked crosswalks. Be prepared to stop when someone is crossing the street.
  • Emergency vehicles: Move to the side of the road, but watch for other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists. In New York state, the Move Over Law requires drivers to be careful when approaching an emergency vehicle stopped on the side of the road with its emergency lights on. Drivers are required to move one full lane away from the stopped vehicle.

Driving in blind spots

Check your side mirrors before changing lanes to make sure a vehicle isn’t close or visible.

Other common mistakes

  • Backing up without looking: Remember to look over your shoulder before backing up even with a backup camera.
  • Follow too closely: Don’t follow the vehicle ahead of you too closely. Give extra distance when driving behind someone.
  • Cutting someone off: It’s not only bad manners but is also dangerous, so wait for a safe opening in traffic before moving.
  • Not slowing down when it rains: Slow down to keep control of the vehicle and allow for extra reaction time due to poor visibility.
  • Headlights and high beams: Make sure your headlights are on at night or during inclement weather. Only use your high beams when no other cars are on the road. By not using your headlights or turning on your high beams, other motorist may not see you or have difficulty seeing your car from the glare.
  • Driving through yellow lights: You could end up in an accident if you rush through a yellow light. They are there to warn drivers to slow down and prepare to stop. It’s better to pay attention and slow down when the light turns yellow.

The information is this article was obtained from various sources not associated with Adirondack Bank. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. Adirondack Bank is not responsible for, and does not endorse or approve, either implicitly or explicitly, the information provided or the content of any third-party sites that might be hyperlinked from this page. The information is not intended to replace manuals, instructions or information provided by a manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional, or to affect coverage under any applicable insurance policy. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. Adirondack Bank makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.

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