12 Common Driving Mistakes Every New Driver Should Avoid

by Zutobi · Updated Apr 28, 2023

No driver, regardless of their experience, is immune from making common driving mistakes from time to time. Some of these blunders are relatively minor, while others can present a major danger to the driver and those around them.

Luckily for you, all of these are easily avoidable as long as you know what to be aware of. Keep these mistakes in mind before you go for your next drive.

  1. Following too closely
  2. Failing to use turn signal
  3. Switching lanes at an intersection
  4. Not using the rearview mirror when reversing
  5. Failing to adjust speed to weather conditions
  6. Never reviewing the rules of the road
  7. Failing to maintain your vehicle
  8. Paying too much attention to your phone
  9. Failing to yield to emergency vehicles
  10. Speeding through yellow lights
  11. Failing to check blind spot
  12. Taking off too soon after green light

1 – Following too closely

a car tailgating another vehicle

Tailgating the vehicle in front of you is incredibly dangerous. At any point in time, that car can come to a sudden stop, putting you in danger of a rear-end collision. The standard rule of thumb is to keep about a three-second following distance between your car and the one in front of you. This way, you’ll be prepared to make any sudden maneuvers if necessary.

2 – Failing to use turn signal

Your turn signal is designed to signal your intentions for people around you. That way, people are aware of what you’re planning to do with your vehicle before you do it. This is very courteous to others on the road and ensures a safe driving environment for all.

turn signals on a vehicle
Always use your turn signals when changing road positioning.

3 – Switching lanes at an intersection

Changing lanes at an intersection is technically legal in most states, but incredibly dangerous for you and drivers around you. If you want to switch lanes, make sure to do so before the intersection, or immediately following it.

4 – Not using the rearview mirror when reversing

With cameras now installed in every new American vehicle as of 2018, many drivers have become heavily reliant on this technology, rather than their car’s interior mirrors. However, these backup cameras are not nearly as accurate as your very own eyes. It is always necessary to look behind you when getting ready to reverse your vehicle.

man reversing in car
Don’t solely rely on cameras when backing up.

5 – Failing to adjust speed to weather conditions

Different weather conditions require different driving behaviors. For example, sunny weather requires little to no adjustment in your driving. Alternatively, when it’s snowing or raining, you’ll want to drive more slowly to avoid your vehicle from losing traction with the ground. Failing to do so could result in an impending danger for you and vehicles around you.

driving in the rain
You need to adapt your speed and following distance according to the road and weather conditions.

6 – Never reviewing the rules of the road

While it is true that most basic driving rules do not change, it is always important to review them in order to make sure you are always compliant. Believe it or not, much of the information you retain when studying for your driver’s license test is forgotten by the time you go for your first renewal.

The Zutobi app was made specifically for this purpose. Instead of sifting through hundreds of pages in a driver’s handbook, users can simply engage with their gamified permit test app while learning everything they need to know about driving in their specific state. Available on both smartphone, tablet, and desktop devices, Zutobi is the perfect app for everyone!

7 – Failing to maintain your vehicle

Vehicle maintenance is the easiest way to ensure your car stays in working condition and doesn’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. Performing routine tasks such as oil changes, air filter changes, and fluid replacements will extend the life of your vehicle substantially. A neglected vehicle is not only unsafe but will result in higher repair costs down the road.

8 – Paying too much attention to your phone

Driving with your phone is incredibly dangerous and accounts for thousands of motor vehicle deaths every year. Not only is this act unsafe, it is also illegal in all fifty states. In order to avoid getting a ticket, or worse, put your phone down and keep your eyes on the road.

person texting while driving
Don’t text and drive!

9 – Failing to yield to emergency vehicles

When you see or hear emergency sirens in the distance, you must always prepare to pull over and come to a complete stop. Emergency vehicles such as police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances require the right of way in order to attend to important situations in the community. To avoid hindering their progress, it is always best to give them the right of way as soon as safely possible.

10 – Speeding through yellow lights

Many of us are very clear on what green and red traffic lights mean at an intersection, however, the yellow light is a little more arbitrary. Contrary to popular belief, the yellow light does not mean ‘slow down’, it is simply indicating that a red light is coming, or you’ll need to stop soon. In most cases, this means preparing to come to a full stop, unless you can fully cross the intersection before the light turns red.

11 – Failing to check blind spot

Your blind spot is one of the most important parts of your line of sight because it’s the one that is the easiest to forget about. When a vehicle is in your blind spot, they are completely invisible from your rear view, as well as your side mirrors. Without checking, you would likely never know the vehicle was there. Quickly glancing at your blind spot before making sudden maneuvers, especially on the freeway, will keep you safe and sound while avoiding unnecessary crashes.

12 – Taking off too soon after green light

As soon as a stoplight turns green, you should never be in a rush off of the line. While a green light normally means the coast is clear, you should still look both ways before entering an intersection to ensure no cars are coming. This will ensure you let any remaining vehicle pass to avoid getting in an accident.

green traffic light
Check that the coast is clear before proceeding.

Everyone makes driving errors – it is not something you should be ashamed of whatsoever. As you gain experience, the amount of errors you make will begin to dwindle. However, it is important to be aware of these common driving mistakes to avoid making them in the future.

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