Common Driving Myths and Misconceptions: Do You Know the Truth?

practice drivingMost of us like to think we’re excellent drivers. But even if you’ve been driving for years, there are likely some blind spots in your knowledge you’ve forgotten or even ignored in the past. And if you’re just starting to learn to drive, your experience may be limited to what you’ve observed when other drivers are behind the wheel.

Drivers education courses are especially important for young drivers who aren’t as familiar with the rules of the road. The fatality rate for drivers aged 16 to 19 is four times that of drivers aged 25 to 69, which means a lack of experience and knowledge plays a big role in serious traffic accidents. Young drivers need to practice driving often, as it’s really the only way to improve. However, there are a lot of misconceptions that even seasoned motorists often think are true.

To set the record straight, we’ve debunked just a few of these common safe driving myths:

MYTH: If the car ahead of you is too slow, a little tailgating is fine.

It’s easy to become impatient with a slow driver, but contrary to popular belief, tailgating is not going to make them speed up. Actually, in many cases, it will cause them to slow down or make mistakes because they’re preoccupied with what you’re doing. Some drivers may try to teach you a lesson by pumping their brakes, and if you’re following too closely, that can easily result in an accident. If a driver is going way under the speed limit, you should figure out a way to safely pass them. As a general rule, give yourself enough time to get to your destination so you won’t be prone to road rage.

MYTH: When the light changes to yellow, you’re supposed to speed through the intersection.

Most people think of a yellow light as a warning; they’ll think that as long as they can make it through the intersection before the light turns red, they’ll be fine. But in reality, it actually means you should stop unless it is not safe to do so. For example, if you’ve been traveling at a high speed and wouldn’t be able to safely stop before the light turns yellow, proceed through. But if you have ample time to stop, you must stop. The more you practice safe driving, the better you’ll get at anticipating the timing of traffic signal changes.

MYTH: It’s illegal to drive barefoot.

For some reason, people seem to think that the “no shoes, no service” rule applies to driving. But actually, it’s perfectly legal to drive barefoot in every state. While footwear is highly recommended while you’re behind the wheel, it’s not technically required by law. Still, you should wear reliable, comfortable footwear while behind the wheel, as a dislodged shoe can impact your ability to stop your vehicle. In addition, driving barefoot can be very uncomfortable for some people and typically requires a bit more effort. So to be safe, you should put your shoes on whenever possible, especially when you first practice driving.

MYTH: You should treat flashing yellow, flashing red, and signal blackouts the same way.

This is a particularly dangerous misconception, as these three instances should all be treated differently. A flashing yellow light means to proceed with caution. You should NOT come to a complete stop at every flashing yellow light. Go through the intersection while paying attention to what’s around you. On the other hand, you do need to come to a complete stop at a flashing red light. When the junction is clear and safe to proceed, do so. If a traffic signal is out completely, you need to treat that intersection as a four-way stop. Failure to understand these traffic signals can and will result in serious accidents.

Whether you’re just starting to practice driving or you’ve been driving for years, driving school or a refresher driving course can allow you stay safe on the road. For more information on how Driving Arizona can help you, contact us today.

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