Millions of Americans lack basic driving knowledge and display unsafe driving habits, impacting the price of auto owners insurance yearly. Many find standard driving practices perplexing and do not understand the simple rules of the road.
A recent study conducted by GMAC Insurance found that one in 10 drivers on the road today would fail if required to take a follow-up driver's test. And 29 percent of drivers who drink admitted they would knowingly drive while over the legal alcohol limit. These factors combined contribute to high insurance premiums.
So what is the solution to these maladies…and to the high cost of insurance? Education—and caution.
"The test supports the need to stay abreast of the rules of the road, and to put them into practice each and every day," said Gary Kusumi, GMAC Insurance's Personal Lines CEO and president. "Part of our job as auto insurers is to educate our customers, empowering them to become better, safer drivers to avoid accidents and to keep their lives moving."
Most states' departments of motor vehicles provide written and online resources to help drivers keep their knowledge of the rules of the road fresh and up-to-date. But there are also some simple measures consumers can take to lower the risk of accident, insurance claims and injury or death.
GMAC Insurance and the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS) have partnered together to provide consumers the following list of common driving mistakes and tips for staying safe.
Follow these guidelines to ensure you arrive safely at your destination and keep insurance costs low.
Mistake #1: Following Too Closely
This is an all-too-common and routine practice on the road. A majority of insurance claims are for rear-end accidents resulting from consumers tailgating the car directly in front of them.
Tip: Leave a two-second cushion between yourself and the car in front of you to save lives and deter accidents.
Mistake #2: Failing to Yield When Turning Left
One in five drivers tested in GMAC's National Drivers Test did not answer correctly when asked who has the right-of-way when they are making a left turn. This can result in costly mistakes, an increased accident rate and higher rates.
Tip: Check the flow of traffic before turning. Look to the street ahead and make sure no vehicles or pedestrians are in your path. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way in crosswalks, and vehicles already on the road have the right-of-way over those entering the road.
Mistake #3: Merging Incorrectly
50 percent of drivers do not merge into heavy traffic correctly, according to the IIHS.
Tip: Yield—don't stop—on yellow when merging onto a roadway. Forcing drivers behind you to stop suddenly can cause an accident and raise the price of your insurance.
Mistake #4: Speeding
20 million drivers claim they speed regularly. It is easy to exceed the speed limit when you are traveling at the same rate of speed as the traffic around you…but this logic won't keep you from getting a ticket or causing an accident.
Tip: Check your speedometer every 60 seconds to ensure you maintain a reasonable rate of speed.
Mistake #5: Backing Up
24 percent of drivers admitted they have backed up without looking over their shoulder, according to GMAC's national test.
Tip: Check your mirrors and blind spots before backing up. Remember, a margin of error accompanies these instruments—so don't rely on them solely.
Some basic knowledge of both the rules of the road and safe driving habits can go a long way toward preventing accidents and keeping insurance rates low.
So take these tips to heart, keep your knowledge of driving and the rules of the road up to date, and travel safely and securely wherever you go!