Changing the radio station or having a quick snack behind the wheel may only seem like minor things, but they could spell disaster in the blink of an eye. From causing a car accident to winding up with a fine, it’s best to kick these dangerous driving habits so you can reach your destination safely.
Using a mobile phone while driving
Most of us are attached to our mobile phones and it seems that many drivers continue this love affair while driving, despite being aware of the risks. Using a mobile phone while driving is a dangerous habit that not only impairs a driver visually, physically and cognitively, but it increases the risk of crashing dramatically.
There are also many laws in place restricting the use of a mobile phone in the car, and if you go breaking them, you risk having to pay a fine and losing some hefty demerit points - fine prices and demerit points vary per state across Australia.
If you find it hard to resist the temptation to use your mobile phone while driving, try putting it away in another part of the car or turning on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ setting.
Wearing a seatbelt incorrectly
We all know how important it is to buckle up when you get into a car, but when you’re on a long journey it can be tempting to move your seatbelt for comfort. Be sure to kick this dangerous habit and resist the urge to opt for comfort over safety – it's not worth the risk. Keep your seatbelt where it’s supposed to be, otherwise it won’t be able to protect you as it should. You could also risk getting a fine for not having your seatbelt correctly fitted.
Driving in heels, thongs or barefoot
The laws in Australia don’t outline what kind of footwear you need to wear when driving your car, but some shoes are safer than others. Avoid driving barefoot and give the high heels and thongs a miss as well. It can be hard to control a car when your shoes are loosely fitted, get caught or fall off, potentially leading to dangerous driving if they were to get stuck under the pedals. Instead, opt for comfortable shoes that are securely fitted to your feet the next time you get into the driver’s seat.
Eating while driving
Road trips can be tiring and everyone wants to get to their destination as soon as they can but eating dinner while driving is actually dangerous. If you need to respond quickly, you need two hands on the wheel. While it’s not necessarily illegal to eat behind the wheel, if you’re hungry, why not pull over and take a moment to enjoy your food? This will give you a much-needed break from driving and help you arrive at your destination in one piece.
Drinking coffee while driving
While drinking coffee behind the wheel doesn't necessarily break the law, that doesn’t mean you should make a habit of it. If you’re driving dangerously because you’re reaching for your caffeine-filled cup and your attention isn’t on the road, then you could cause an accident and be charged for doing so. The implications of spilling the hot liquid in your car or on yourself aren’t great either.
Lighting a cigarette behind the wheel
Smoking while driving poses many hazards including driver distraction and burns. Don’t even think about throwing cigarette butts out of your car window either, as you could cop a fine and potentially risk starting a bush fire in hot and dry conditions, depending on where you are.
Not only is smoking while driving a dangerous habit best avoided, it’s also illegal if you have a child in the car. This law was introduced to help protect minors from second-hand smoke, which can have harmful health consequences.
Steer clear of distractions
A car trip can feel even longer when you have young children in the back. Thanks to technology, your kids can sit back and relax by watching a movie on a device like a mobile phone or tablet. It’s important, however, to ensure that their entertainment doesn’t distract you from focusing on the road. Make sure the screen is not in your view when driving, otherwise you could receive a fine. If possible, have your children wear headphones so that the sound doesn’t distract you either.
Shine Lawyers – we're here to help
If something has happened to you or a loved one on the road, you may be able to make a claim. Our team of experts can guide you through the legal process to help you understand your rights and get back on your feet. Get in touch today for an obligation-free consultation.
To find out more about the road rules where you live, please visit your local state or territory government transport department website.
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: September 15, 2020.