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Dangerous driving habits to kick

5 minute read

Motor vehicle accident

Changing the radio station or having a quick snack behind the wheel may only seem innocent. 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 avoid these dangerous driving habits so you can reach your destination safely. 

Let’s explore some of the most dangerous and illegal driving habits including if using a mobile phone while driving, speaking on the phone while driving and more. 

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. But 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.  

Research shows that using a mobile phone while driving can increase your risk of an accident, four-fold. This includes speaking on the phone while driving (unless totally hands free) and even simply touching your mobile phone at all.  

Every state and territory have their own laws and penalties and fines for using a mobile phone while driving. These may also depend on the type of licence that you’re driving on.  

For example, if you’re wondering, ‘can p-platers use phone mounts for their mobile phones’, in Queensland P1 drivers are not allowed to use their mobile phone in any form. This includes on the hands-free or loudspeaker function whether or not it’s attached to a phone mount. However, if you are on a P2 or open licence, you are allowed to touch the mobile for hands-free use if it's in a phone mount attached to the vehicle.  

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

We’re often asked, ‘can you wear thongs while driving’? 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. And these situations could potentially lead 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. So, are you allowed to eat while driving? Or is it illegal to eat while driving? 

Eating while driving can be dangerous. If you need to respond quickly, you need two hands on the wheel, and a milkshake or burger in your hand could make this a challenge.  

So, while it is not against the law to eat while driving, if you’re hungry, it’s safer to 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

Another question we’re often asked is, ‘can you drink 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 your attention isn’t 100% on the road because you’re reaching for your caffeine-filled cup, 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

Is it illegal to smoke while driving? The short answer is no. But 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. Worse, you could 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 in all states and territories. This law was set out under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 in New South Wales in 2009, with all other states and territories following suit. The Northern Territory was the last to implement this ban in 2014. These laws were 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 you’ve been injured or lost a loved one in a motor vehicle accident, whether in a car, truck, motorbike or even as a cyclist or pedestrian, 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 your life back on track. 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. 

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