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Top 12 driver errors — Will they catch you?

RVers may spend more time behind the wheel than the average driver. That gives us plenty more opportunities to do something bone-headed and get into an accident. Here’s the Top 12 list of driver errors. Check them out and see if perhaps you need to make any adjustments to keep yourself—and others—safer on the road.

1. “Camping” in the fast lanes

If you’ve spent any time watching truck-driver-produced Instagram videos, you’ve seen it. Somebody plunks their car, truck, or motorhome somewhere other than in the right hand lane—and sits there. No matter that folks are zipping past them on the right, they’re just GLUED to that lane. Hey, this is an easy one. That old left lane is the OVERTAKING lane. If you’re not overtaking another driver, stay out of it!

2. Brake jamming without cause

driver errorsA major cause of traffic accidents—the yo-yo who jams on the brakes for no reason. Do you need to slow down? Unless there’s an emergent condition, slowing down gradually may save a rear-end collision.

3. “Turn signal forgetfulness”

That little lever on the steering column is there for a reason. And yes, it’s more than just a place to rest your fingers. Forgetting to use the turn signal when making a lane change or turning a corner is bound to catch folks by (unnecessary) surprise. Don’t forget to switch off the signal when you’ve completed the maneuver!

4. Lane changing in a turn

Crossing out of your lane while making a turn can lead to unwelcome “incursions” with other vehicles. Yes, larger rigs like motorhomes and folks towing trailers and fifth-wheels may, of necessity, have to make a wide turn. But don’t go where you don’t need to go. If you need to be in a different lane after you make the turn, stay in the lane you’re coming in from, then, after the turn is complete, switch to the lane you need. And don’t forget those turn signals!

5. Brake rider

driver errorsSome folks just seem to think that since you have two feet, you need to use both at once. One on the gas, the other on the brake—not necessarily pushing it down, just resting it there. Others, at the stop line, push down the brake with the left foot, and keep the right on the gas. It’s a driver error that’s hard on the brakes and can create a jerky approach to driving. Give your left foot a rest—use the right foot for both the brake and the accelerator.

RVers have an additional “brake riding” warning. Riding the brakes on a downgrade can lead to a loss of brakes. Need to slow down on the downgrade? Drop down to a lower gear and let engine compression help slow you. Still need to scrub off speed? Push firmly on the brake, drop down to 10-miles-per-hour less than your safe descent speed, then get off the brake. Don’t touch it again until you go over your safe speed. This proven method will go a long way to keeping your brakes cool and usable.

6. Speeding through that yellow light

Approaching a traffic light that shows yellow apparently is tantamount to waving a red cloth at a bull. Yellow means SLOW. Which pedal is your right foot on? Should be the brake!

7. Crosswalk non-stop?

Pedestrian in the crosswalk? Exercise that right foot on the brake pedal. Fines for ignoring pedestrians can be steep—$280 in California. Must you stop for the pedestrian who is waiting to cross at a crosswalk? Generally, no. But best to brush up on state laws where you travel. Here’s another great idea: If you’re stopping at the crosswalk, turn on your hazard flashers to give folks behind you a warning.

8. High-beam Harry

driver errors
frozen chipmunk on flickr.com

One of our “favorite” driver errors is that fellow who leaves his high beams on. State laws may lay out precisely how close you may come to an oncoming vehicle or to one traveling ahead of you in the same direction. But who’s gonna get out and measure the distance? If you can see the headlights or taillights, turn down your high beams.

9. Failing to set those side mirrors

driver errorIt seems for some, side-mounted mirrors are like the ones at home above the bathroom sink. They adjust the mirrors to see as much of themselves as they can! But the idea is to adjust them to barely see your rig, and to see as much of whatever else you can see—like overtaking traffic. Driving the toad car? Set that “over the dash” mirror so you can look up and see straight back through the rear window—without having to move your head. Leave the self-idolization in the bathroom.

10. Too comfortable seating

No, we don’t mean you should install bleacher seating in your rig. But those who set the driver seat too far back from the wheel may not be able to keep good control. Too much comfort can lead to lack of attention to traffic. Set your seat up and keep both your hands on the wheel.

11. Parking on the green

When the traffic light changes to green, be ready to roll. We’ve all been in the situation where the guy at the stop line is lolly-gagging and just sits when the light changes. We recently were behind just such a person—they were applying makeup when the light changed and just stayed put. Unfortunately, traffic in all other lanes rolled out, giving the impression our lane was moving too. Nope—and sad to say, that lady in the van coming up behind us insinuated her rig into the rear of our car. And, oh yeah, “makeup” driver pulled out and headed west—right after we got smacked.

12. Celly behind the wheel

The final driver error—using the phone while driving. Even if you have “hands free” capability, that doesn’t free up your mind for a conversation. Keep your mind in the game (i.e., driving). If you need to talk, pull off the road and make your call.

##RVT1051

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Tony Stekar
13 days ago

With the length of camper a yellow light is a no brainer not to blow threw . Yes I have and do use my horn when someone doesn’t move after light turns green. A bumper sticker I read stated that the fast second is the horn blowing from the car behind you when the light turns green. I believe this is fact!

Tony Stekar
13 days ago

MY dodge has and toyota have auto headlights they dim the bright’s fairly fast. But cause I’m a 1 ton that sets up higher then most cars I get a few turning there bright’s on at me. The driving – fog lights are on when I em in the dim position wish every one see’s this and not hitting me with there bright . Need the driving lights on too spot the deer ( MONTANA ) have hit four already! Did once hit my bright’s on at a car that had his bright’s on was a highway patrol, turn around gave me a warning ; he informed me that I could cause end accident blinding someone. Like he was doing too me. As I have learn when on coming traffic do hit there bright lights I focuses my eye’s to the right side of the road this works pretty good! Not to bad in the dodge ( 1 ton ) pickup but when in the toyota (prius) it sets low to the ground even the newer cars lights are bright. It all come’s down too living with it and not making a big deal out of it.

Gary Swope
13 days ago

Concerning item 11. Did you blow your horn after 5 seconds or so? I use my horn when the need arises and I’m not shy about it either. I expect the same from others if I’m caught daydreaming too.

cee
13 days ago
Reply to  Gary Swope

My experience is that Californians do a lot of horn honking.

Richard A. Shaffer
12 days ago
Reply to  cee

They’re hyper in CA.

Uncle Swags
12 days ago
Reply to  Gary Swope

Don’t ever use your horn in Hawaii.

Gene Sannes
13 days ago

As a former motorcycle riding instructor, the term SEE, is a mantra we always preach to keep the biker’s (or car/truck dirver) head moving to see as much as possible. S- Search the area in front of you to the sides and through the rear view mirror for any developing situation. E- Evaluate a situation you see that might develop into a need to maneuver. E- Execute what ever actions you need to eliminate or mitigate a traffic situation that could cause you harm or you might cause harm to someone or something on the road. With practice this is all done in a couple of seconds. But, it must be continuous as long as one is moving.

Dkarre
13 days ago

Distraction for sure. Saw a young lady applying her makeup going down a 2 lane highway in the city. I told my wife I sure hope she gets that done before she dies. Then she turned to in on ramp of the interstate still applying make up.

Gene Bjerke
14 days ago

In some cases, the right-hand lane is in very rough shape,while the other is relatively smooth. As long as you are keeping up with traffic, it makes for a smoother ride.

Richard A. Shaffer
12 days ago
Reply to  Gene Bjerke

Even so, it’s a passing lane, not a cruising lane.

Scott Ellis
14 days ago

You can “see the headlights” of oncoming traffic long before you need to dim. A good guide is that when you can discern *two individual* headlights, you should dim yours.

Phil Derr
14 days ago

Yup, agree with all comments. I do have another. You’re at a red light/stop sign with a car in front of you. The signal changes, the car pulls ahead, you follow and then suddenly this car hits his brakes! Does he want me to hit him? I can never figure this motorist out.

Richard A. Shaffer
12 days ago
Reply to  Phil Derr

Maybe something ran in front of his vehicle?

TexasScout
14 days ago

I can say that ALL those annoy me. The worst are the Left Lane Loonies, Bright Light Bubbas, and most of all, people that REFUSE to use their Cruise Control. (I do a LOT of Highway driving)

rvgrandma
14 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

not all cars have cruise control – yes there are still cars that don’t or it doesn’t work. Then there are others of us that do not feel in control putting on cruise control.

Richard A. Shaffer
11 days ago
Reply to  rvgrandma

RVgrandma: maybe a move into town near a bus line? Cruise controls disconnect instantly when touching the brakes. Unless you drive a GM vehicle, in which case the cruise button or lever might just fall off onto the floor. (Needlessly nasty).

Richard A. Shaffer
12 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

Yes. No cruise usage, so they’re constantly slowing and accelerating. Then, when they’re slowing, you start to pass them and they suddenly realize, “I must be going too slow”, so they raise their speed, making you have to increase your speed even higher to get around them. Another one: you wait, in full view of an oncoming vehicle, to pull out onto their road. They intend to turn onto the road you’re waiting on, but don’t signal to let you know that, making you wait until they turn in right next to you. Totally self-absorbed.

Gary
14 days ago

The yellow light does not mean “slow”, it means caution, the light is about to turn red. If you are too close, proceed with caution. Or, if you can, stop.

Yes, I remember the line from “Starman”.

Last edited 14 days ago by Gary
Richard A. Shaffer
11 days ago
Reply to  Gary

Gary, that doesn’t apply to jacked-up, “attitude” pickups with ice-colored headlight bulbs installed (to burn off the paint from your trunk lid when on). They will drive 5 feet behind you with their high beams on to let you know you’re in their lane and only going the speed limit. The same applies to 20-30 somethings with Honda Civics or Accords painted in primer. May also include old Acuras, as well. Either grey primer or faded red.

G. Kent
14 days ago

This retired trauma nurse says ‘slow down’.. Injury severity and lethality increases with each mph increase. Tip #2: Drive less – understand your odds’ ..the longer you go without an accident the more likely you are to have an accident- simple probability -no matter your vigilance or skill. It’s not ‘if’, it’s when.

Tim
14 days ago

#4.
Oh boy. The person driving a compact SUV that needs to swing all the way out into the left lane in order to turn right. They think they are driving a tractor trailer with doubles.

Ron T.
14 days ago

Re: Seat too comfortable. Your seat is not too far back if you can grip the wheel properly and totally extend your arms without pulling your back off the seat. I see more people sitting too close to the wheel rather than too far away.

TexasScout
14 days ago
Reply to  Ron T.

NTSB recommends a MINIMUM of 10″ from the wheel to keep you from being crushed by the Air Bag.

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago
Reply to  Ron T.

Too close to the wheel, with hands on the 11 and 1 o’clock position, looking slightly terrified of operating a car. I would suggest for them, that they consider traveling by bus.

Bob p
14 days ago

The left foot brakers can’t seem to put 2&2 together to understand why their car goes through brake pads so soon. Their neighbors all seem to get many thousand more miles out of their brakes than they do!

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago
Reply to  Bob p

A simple solution for them: remove your right foot from the gas pedal and you will be amazed that they vehicle will slow down on it’s own! Works every time.

Wayne
14 days ago

Bob kinda mentions what has been an annoyance for me. The on/off-ramps are no place to be especially if one is required (like in Ca) to camp out in the righthand lane and required to drive 10 mph slower.
And not to mention that on many 2 lane highways the right lane can be in terrible condition inviting tire blowouts because of potholes.
So while driving the 3 plus lane highways in Ca I camp out in the centre lanes where it is less stressful and I pull at what ever the traffic flow is.

Don
14 days ago

#12 should have been #1. Distracted driving is killing thousands of us every year! There is no more dangerous thing you can do while driving. NONE!

Uncle Swags
12 days ago
Reply to  Don

So true Don. And they missed tailgating.

Last edited 12 days ago by Uncle Swags
Spike
14 days ago

“A major cause of traffic accidents—the yo-yo who jams on the brakes for no reason.”

While no one should jam hard on brakes for no reason, the real cause of rear end collisions is tailgating. Unless another vehicle just suddenly swerves in front of you and brakes hard, a rear-ender is the fault of the following vehicle…not the one in front.

The tip should be to ALWAYS leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle ahead of you so if they brake hard for ANY reason, you can safely avoid hitting them.

Also, timing on yellow lights can be tricky, especially for RVer’s with large and heavy rigs that don’t stop on a dime. Yellow means CAUTION…not SLOW. It means a red light is coming…not immediately brake because the light turned yellow. It’s a timing judgement…safely stop or not, assuming making through on yellow.
Going back to rear enders…if everyone immediately braked hard to avoid going through a yellow light, we’d have a lot more smashed trunks!

TIM MCRAE
14 days ago
Reply to  Spike

Well said & accurate.

Thomas Kneib
14 days ago
Reply to  Spike

Did you ever notice that if you leave enough space between you and the one in front of you, at least one and sometimes two or three others jump in to swallow up that space. Sometimes I feel like I am going in reverse.

TexasScout
14 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Kneib

In Houston traffic, you would eventually be going backwards….

Richard A. Shaffer
11 days ago
Reply to  Thomas Kneib

Yes, I have, Thomas. Or – the right lane is a disappearing lane. So they move over into it, knowing it disappears, to jump ahead of traffic, forcing themselves in front of you at the last minute, in an attempt to get ahead of you and gain an advantage.

Monty H. Mathis
14 days ago

These tips are very good, but, what it boils down to is Driver Situational Awareness. In other words, having the proper mindset before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle. I am a retired LEO during much of that time I was a traffic homicide investigator and crash reconstructionist so I have investigated hundreds of crashes. I currently teach and train Situational Awareness for anyone who wants to learn the craft and that includes driving. Many people have something of an epiphany when realize their driving mistakes and the consequences associated with distracted driving. This is the kind of information that would benefit every RV owner.

TexasScout
14 days ago

Situational Awareness applies to life in general. I see so many people with their heads down, looking at a cell phone and no clue what is happening around them. I remember going to a mall and driving around a corner as a mother and three daughters came out a side door, head down and walking right into the traffic lane to their car. I wanted to blow my horn!

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago
Reply to  TexasScout

I guess she figures that if her head is down, that that will clear traffic?

Steve T
13 days ago

What’s an LEO?

cee
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve T

Law Enforcement Officer

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago

What is a LEO? Many times I have gotten into my vehicle in a great mood, only to have it dashed by (usually) some character in a jacked-up truck driving 5 feet behind me. So much for the great mood. I think James Bond had it right when he could drop an oil slick or a bunch of nails out the back end of his car. I think a 10-foot long high-powered and focused flame might work better. So long grille and bumper cover, Mr. Big Shot.

Kurt Shoemaker Sr
14 days ago

You forgot “Following too Close”

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago

I covered following too close in my previous rants above.

Bob M
14 days ago

For #1, sometime you have to get in the left lane because the on ramp always has slow trucks pulling on. Than you have the ignorant people pulling on to the highway from the on ramp who don’t yield to traffic. Than won’t let you back-in the slow lane. Plus you have people speeding and in Pa, state police management don’t have their troopers pulling over speeders

RICHARD SHAFFER
11 days ago
Reply to  Bob M

Yeah, you try to do the right thing and move over so they can merge in, and they form a solid wall in the right hand lane, keeping you stuck in the middle.