“I’ll do it just this once.”

Letting yourself get distracted “just this once” can be the time that you drive into a guardrail or accidentally hit a pedestrian. Your choices and actions have consequences.

You’ve spent so much money and time learning the laws and how to operate a vehicle. Your driver’s licence is a diploma that signifies your understanding of the law and your duty to follow it.

Here are some examples of common behavior people should not exhibit while they drive:

Using a Cell Phone

Cell phones have trained us to have a short attention span and developed a need-to-know-now impulse, so we look at our phones every time we hear a notification sound. According to the CAA’s 2017 statistics, drivers are four times as likely to be in a car crash while on the phone, whether hands-free or not.

You don’t necessarily have to turn your phone off. If you know you can’t resist the temptation to look at your phone to see who texted you, then turn off your notification sounds. You can also put the phone on vibrate if you think the ringtone will startle you—we don’t want you to have an accident, after all. If you’re expecting an urgent call, pull over to a safe location and deal with the call.

Manitoba and Alberta have made using hand-held devices—even while stopped at a red light—illegal.

, What You Should Never Do Behind the Wheel

Paying Attention to Passengers

When you have people and pets in the car with you as you drive, this can cause distractions. From holding conversations to arguing to disciplining your children, passengers take your attention away from the road, which is dangerous. In fact, Manitoba experienced a 12,585 jump in distracted driving accidents between 2011 and 2017.

When the conversation starts to get heated, you need to stop it before it goes too far. Emotions, such as anger, cloud your judgement and driving behaviour. While you may be mad at your sister sitting beside you, that doesn’t mean should vent your frustrations by yelling obscenities at other drivers or driving over the speed limit.

In the same regard, if you’re a parent, don’t discipline your children or teenagers until you’ve pulled over to properly deal with the matter. Sometimes, kids start misbehaving as a result of cabin fever if you have all been travelling for a long period. Pulling over will provide an opportunity for everyone to get some air and cool down.

If you’re travelling with pets, don’t let them wander free while the car’s moving; it’s dangerous for them and runs the risk of distracting you and causing an accident. Seatbelts for animals exist, so use them to keep your furry friends safe.

Eating

Juggling several tasks while trying to hold onto the steering wheel is just asking for trouble. It doesn’t matter what type of food you have or whether your drink has a lid. Your attention shouldn’t be away from the road.

While people’s safety is the main priority, eating poses other problems. Many people think that eating while driving saves time, but it doesn’t. Getting to work in the morning can be stressful, especially when there’s traffic or when you’re running late. Imagine spending a lot of time to make yourself look professional for a meeting, only to have your coffee or breakfast sandwich spill on your nice clean shirt or blouse. You’ll have to scramble to a nearby store to buy a new shirt or show up at the meeting as you are. Your manager or clients won’t be impressed.

, What You Should Never Do Behind the Wheel

Getting Dressed

It’s true. Some people have such high-pressured jobs that they’re on their phone and laptop all day calling, texting, organizing, and more. But that doesn’t give them the right to endanger others by getting dressed in their car while driving. Their job does not exempt them from the law. Whether it’s buttoning up a shirt, putting on make-up, or shaving, this is not acceptable driver behavior, and a police officer will ticket you for it. Give yourself enough time in the morning to get dressed either at home or once you arrive at your workplace.

Wearing Headphones or Earbuds

Driving requires your full attention, including your senses. Your five senses provide you with critical information. If you can’t hear a car horn or an ambulance’s siren because you’re wearing headphones or earbuds, you won’t know that something is wrong and that you need to act fast. Meanwhile, you’re putting others in danger by not stopping when you should or unnecessarily stalling the emergency services.

Not Wearing a Seatbelt

We’d all love to have Wolverine’s healing ability or be as indestructible as Superman, but we’re not. We’re just plain old human beings that can get banged up pretty easily.

Putting on your seatbelt is an easy way to protect yourself and loved ones, but many people still fail to do it. The seatbelt was patented by Edward J. Claghorn in 1885 for New York taxis. That was 134 years ago, and people still don’t bother to put their seatbelt on.

According to the Government of Canada, drivers and passengers throughout the country continue to suffer from injuries or die because they were involved in a motor vehicle accident and didn’t put on their seatbelt. Here are the stats:

, What You Should Never Do Behind the Wheel
, What You Should Never Do Behind the Wheel

Note: The term serious injuries includes victims who were hospitalized.

The above charts show that, of those people killed or seriously injured in car accidents in Canada, about 30% each year were not wearing their seat belts. In other words, if you choose not to wear a seat belt—whether as a passenger in a taxi or as a driver in your car—you’re taking a huge risk with your life.

Leaning Over

This is another one of those “just this once” incidents that you should avoid. You might consider reaching over to the passenger seat to get an item from your bag, or if your car still has a CD player, you might be tempted to retrieve a dropped CD by leaning down to get it while still driving. But guess what? When you can’t see the road, you’re driving blind. Anything can happen in the blink of an eye, so don’t risk the safety of yourself, your passengers, or other drivers on the road. It’s not worth it!

Stop Thinking “Just This Once”

The next time you’re driving, think hard before engaging in these examples of bad driver behavior. Ask yourself some questions:

  • “Would I do that if my (child, niece, grandfather, etc.) was in the car?”  

  • “What will my family do if something happens to me? 

  • “Is a text message worth my life?”

If you exhibit these examples of bad driver behavior during your road test, it will hurt your chances of passing. But the instructors at Ace-It Driving School in Winnipeg and Edmonton can help you change your behavior and become a top driver. Our driving lessons provide a well-rounded education, so you can ace your road test! Get started today!