There’s no such thing as a perfect driver. While many of us like to think that we are good drivers, there’s been a time or two in our past where we might have flubbed who had the right-of-way, forgotten to signal a turn, or have gotten lazy about the way we grip our steering wheel.
Safe driving is the pinnacle of keeping auto insurance rates low and, more than anything, reducing or altogether preventing our risk of being involved in a collision. While small driving mistakes don’t mean anything in the grand scheme of things, it’s important to right any bad habits before they snowball into worse issues later down the road. Here are 10 of the most common driving mistakes in Ontario.
1. Failing to acknowledge the “no-right-on-red” sign.
There’s a lot of things to be mindful of when you’re driving. Directions, your speed, your orientation in your lane, and, of course, the signs on the road. In Ontario, a right turn on a red light is legal – so long as there isn’t a sign saying not to. On busier roads, look up and be mindful of any signs that may prohibit a right turn if the light is red.
2. Forgetting to signal a turn.
This is a common one. It can be harmless, if we’re alone on the road or if the nearest driver is several hundred meters or so back, but it can become a difficult habit to break. In the G2 road test, you can be dinged major points for failing to signal – especially during your three-point turn or when you’re pulling into the parking spot at the testing facility.
3. Failing to abide by the right-of-way.
In Ontario, if you are faced with a yield sign, it means that you must allow other drivers in that scenario – as well as cyclists and pedestrians – to go first. Right-of-way may not always be a sign, either. It can be an intersection without any lights or signs, at a four-way-stop with stop signs at all corners, and if you’re making a left or right turn with oncoming traffic.
4. Not checking the bike lane before making a turn.
This is one mistake that can be deadly if not remedied. Ontario has a lot of dedicated bike lanes and plenty of cyclists who choose to cycle rather than drive to work. It is imperative that you check your mirrors and blind spot before making a turn. Bikes are much smaller than cars, so it can be difficult to notice them unless you’re looking diligently.
5. Forgetting to yield to oncoming traffic when entering a roundabout.
Roundabouts – or “traffic circles” in higher traffic areas – are confusing to many Ontario drivers, enough that many drivers will go out of their way to avoid them. If you come across a roundabout, it’s important to note that drivers already in the circle have the right-of-way. Drivers also need to signal before they exit a traffic circle or roundabout.
6. Not doing blind-spot checks before changing lanes.
Your mirrors are great for assessing the space and availability of the lanes around you, but they can’t give you a full 360-degree view of your vehicle. You’ll need to compliment your mirror checks with a blind-spot check, to ensure there’s no vehicle in the lane next to you that you are trying to change over to. While many of us fail to blind-spot check on occasion, it’s imperative that you make a habit of this crucial step to avoid an accident.
7. Not yielding to pedestrians.
There is no circumstance where you should not be yielding to a pedestrian – even if they’re “jaywalking.” At suitable crossing points, if a pedestrian is waiting on one side of the road or already in the process of crossing, you are required to yield to them until they have made it “one lane over” or safely onto the other side of the road.
8. Entering an intersection on a yellow light.
Yellow lights are meant to indicate that the light is about to turn red, and anyone in the intersection who was already present may go, but no other drivers may enter the intersection. Unless it is unsafe to stop (you are too close to the intersection to brake safely), there is no reason to speed up and enter an intersection or speed through a yellow light.
Everyone’s guilty of it. Whether the open road ahead of us is too tempting not to lay on the gas a little harder or we’re late for something, we’ve all had our fair share of speeding events. However, speeding is one of the major causes of severe accidents while driving. Stick to the speed limit and follow the flow of traffic. It isn’t worth the few minutes you’d shave off your trip.
10. Setting up the GPS mid-drive.
Distracted driving is one of the most common causes of accidents while driving. While texting and queuing up Spotify are big ones, so is fiddling with your GPS. To avoid distracted driving, put in your destination before you pull out of your driveway and focus on the road.
We all make mistakes, but it’s a good idea to nip your bad habits in the bud in the event they may very well lead to an accident later down the line. Good driving is the best way to keep your auto insurance rates low and you and your passengers safe.