Driving mistakes could cost you hundreds

IT IS very likely that you have witnessed a driver doing something unsafe behind the wheel, or, though you may not admit it, done something dangerous yourself.

Tucking into a Big Mac, raching into the back for you bag, or wearing thongs while driving may not seem like a big deal at the time but all it takes is one second of being distracted for things to go wrong.

Finder.com.au's Safe Driving Report 2018 has revealed the bad habits Aussie drivers have picked up and the riskiest things they've done behind the wheel.

The study found that 62 per cent of drivers admitted engaging in potentially dangerous activities while operating a car, with the most common being eating takeaway food.

While it isn't technically illegal to eat and drive, or even to wear thongs, it could still cost you a hefty fine if it is deemed you don't have full control of the car while doing so.

Chowing down on a burger could potentially cost you hundreds. Picture: iStock
Chowing down on a burger could potentially cost you hundreds. Picture: iStock

In NSW driving without having proper control of the vehicle could cost you $448 and three demerit points.

A 2015 study by the Griffith Health Institute in Queensland found that eating behind the wheel is almost as distracting as texting.

It found that eating and texting both had similar negative affects on driving such as lane position control and reaction time.

"It's concerning that so many Australians admit to risking their lives and those of others by engaging in these dangerous behaviours on the road," Finder.com.au's Bessie Hassan said.

"While eating takeaway or reaching into the back seat may seem harmless, the reality is that all distractions can be dangerous."

Ms Hassan said you could risk more than just a fine if you are caught engaging in any of these dangerous driving activities.

"If you're deemed to have been driving recklessly or engaging in risky behaviour behind the wheel and you are in an accident, you may not be able to claim the damage on your insurance," she said.

"Comprehensive car insurance also won't cover damage that's been caused by illegal activities such as texting and driving."

The study of nearly 2000 Australian drivers found that driving in thongs was another bad habit they had picked up, with 31 per cent admitting to donning the footwear in the car.

Wearing thongs while driving means you run the risk of them getting caught under the foot pedals and preventing you from either breaking or accelerating.

Texting was the third most common dangerous activity, with one in five people admitting to it and 14 per cent admitting to smoking behind the wheel.

The top dangerous things drivers admitted to doing. Picture: Safe Driving Report
The top dangerous things drivers admitted to doing. Picture: Safe Driving Report

Other risky behaviour included reaching back to deal with children and holding the phone up to your ear when answering a call.

Some of the more unusual admissions were the most alarming such as 9 per cent of respondents driving with their knees, 6 per cent having microslept and 5 per cent having put on make up.

Some also admitted to watching a movie or reading a book while behind the wheel.

There were a few respondents that even submitted their own risky behaviours, which included having sex and driving on the wrong side of the road.

It’s no surprise that texting and driving his high on the list.
It’s no surprise that texting and driving his high on the list.

While the statistics are alarming number of drivers texting dropped 14 per cent from last year, showing a positive change.

"It's promising that the number of people admitting to texting and calling while driving has decreased since last year's report, which indicates that Australians are listening to the statistics on how deadly this can be," Ms Hassan said.

The states with the safest drivers were South Australia and NSW, with two in five drivers from each state admitting to risky behaviour.

Conversely, Western Australia and Victoria have some of the riskiest drivers in the country, with 64 per cent admitting to reckless behaviour on the road.

Women are more likely to eat takeaway and wear thongs behind the wheel compared to men and young drivers are more likely to engage in risky behaviour.

Over 40 per cent of women have eaten while driving compared to 36 per cent of men and nearly four in five Generation Y drivers have admitted to risky driving.

Ms Hassan said you could risk more than just a fine if you are caught engaging in any of these dangerous driving activities.

"If you're deemed to have been driving recklessly or engaging in risky behaviour behind the wheel and you are in an accident, you may not be able to claim the damage on your insurance," she said.

"Comprehensive car insurance also won't cover damage that's been caused by illegal activities such as texting and driving."



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