Everyone who’s out on the roads has a driver’s licence, so it’s easy to assume that because you passed your driver’s licence exam, you must be a good driver, right? Not so fast.

In South Africa, getting (and keeping) a driver’s licence requires only one skills-based test which you never need to refresh, even when you renew your driver’s licence. For someone who gets their licence at 18 and stops driving when they’re 75, there will be 57 years where they don’t undergo any driving tests – that’s a lot of time to pick up bad habits on the road!

If you’re wondering whether you’re a bad driver, see if you can spot yourself in any of the five signs below.

5. You can’t park

“What does my parking ability have to do with my driving ability?” you may be wondering.

If you often find yourself parking 2km from your destination because you can’t get into any of the spaces, circling the block ten times to find a suitable spot, parking outside of your lines, or parking in such a way that obstructs other cars or pedestrians, you might be a bad driver.

Not parking neatly is not only inconsiderate, but it also puts your car at risk.

After all, if you parallel park halfway into the road, can you really blame a passing car for swiping your side mirror? Or, if you regularly park over the line, don’t be surprised if another driver scratches your car when opening their door.

4. You’re indecisive or erratic

One of the markers of a good driver is to always be predictable to other drivers. This allows them to adapt their own behaviour to ensure they’re prepared when, for example, you want to move into their lane.

Some unpredictable behaviours that make you a bad driver include:

  • Waving other drivers through a stop sign or circle, even if you got there first. It’s easier for everyone if you follow the rules of the road.
  • Not preparing which lane you need to be in to make a turn or exit a highway. Speeding through three lanes of traffic to avoid missing your offramp is dangerous for yourself and other drivers.
  • Driving at an inconsistent speed. Going over the speed limit one minute then slowing to 40kmph makes it impossible for other drivers to predict what you’ll do next.
  • Being unsure of where you’re going and causing confusion as you slow down, change lanes, or fiddle with your GPS. Rather pull over when it’s safe to do so and figure out where you need to go.

3. You don’t adapt to the conditions

All drivers should adapt to changing weather conditions as they happen, like putting on their headlights in poor visibility, turning on windscreen wipers when it’s raining, and slowing down when it’s raining or hailing.

But adapting to the conditions doesn’t just refer to the weather – to be a good driver, you need to adapt to everything around you, including braking in ample time when you hit traffic, avoiding bad drivers, and changing lanes without disturbing other drivers.

2. You drive too fast (or too slowly)

The Autobahn in Germany is one of the most famous highways in the world for the fact it has no speed limit – but did you know the average speed on the Autobahn is 142kmph? That’s only 22kmph higher than the maximum speed limit in South Africa.

You might think that when drivers are unleashed onto a well-built highway with unlimited speeds, they’ll put their car to the ultimate test and recreate their favourite scenes from The Fast & The Furious, but the truth is that good drivers drive according to their ability, not according to how fast their car could go.

The reason is simple: The faster you drive the faster accidents happen. Your reaction time needs to be heightened, your braking distance is shorter, and any impact will be felt that much harder.

On the flip side, driving too slowly is another sign of a bad driver. While it doesn’t carry the same dangers as driving too fast, just one car driving too slowly can cause a traffic jam for kilometres behind them and confuse other drivers.

1. You can do ten things at once

If you pride yourself on your ability to put on make-up, balance a burger on your knee, and change the song on your playlist while careening through lanes of traffic, you’re probably a bad driver.

According to studies, distracted driving is the cause of 22% of all accidents.

When you consider the fact that you’re in a metal machine that weighs tonnes and are driving anywhere between 60kmph and 120kmph (we hope), it’s no wonder that the top piece of driving advice is to always pay attention to the roads and cars around you.

If you find yourself constantly multitasking while you’re driving, you’re putting yourself and other drivers in danger – after all, car accidents happen in a split second.

If the temptation to do other things while driving is too much, remove distractions by putting your purse, phone, and any other tempting items in your boot.

Step up from being a good driver and become a great driver by ensuring your car parts – and finances – are taken care of should anything happen to your ride. With dotsure.co.za’s range of Motor Warranty plans that start from R303pm, everyone can afford to be a great driver. Find out more today!