Think you’re a good driver? Of course you do, you’re human. But what makes you a good driver? Not doing these…

Ten signs you’re a bad driver

  1. Not parking neatly – it’s not hard to park a car properly, but when a car isn’t, it gets noticed quickly. Not only does this make other motorists furious, you’ll likely annoy pedestrians and could end up being shamed somewhere like Australia’s Worst Parkers Facebook page or similar. It’s inconsiderate to others, and you risk damage to your car.
  2. Riding the clutch – this is a sure way to wear out the clutch prematurely. Keep your foot off the clutch unless you’re actually changing gear – you need your foot as a brace.
  3. Taxi stops – know someone with taxi foot? It’s when a driver comes to a halt with lots of brake pressure so the car rocks back on its suspension as you stop. Horrible.
  4. Fondling the gear lever – if you’re not actually changing gear, your hand shouldn’t be anywhere near the gear lever. Blokes love this for reasons we’d best not explore. If you think you might need to quickly change gear to deal with an unexpected situation you’ll react with steering wheel and pedals – not the gearshift.
  5. Unnecessary stops – the mark of a driver who isn’t observing what’s happening, and then you’re just wasting fuel and brake pads.
  6. Holding the steering wheel wrong – hold it at a quarter to three (not ten to two) so you have good control, and don’t hook your hands inside the rim as you’ll be injured in the event of an airbag going off.
  7. Harsh driving when cold – rough, harsh driving is bad at any time, but especially so when the engine is cold and not well lubricated.
  8. Following too close – not only can you not react in time to problems but you also can’t see problems developing. You don’t get there any quicker, so settle down and back off.
  9. Bad observation – being surprised by things when you could and should have seen and predicted them from a long way back. Sooner or later you’ll have an accident.
  10. Being distracted – not focusing on the drive is a terribly problem that only seems to be growing, thanks to mobile phones. There’s a reason it’s an offense. 

And the worst sin of all? Not improving, and blaming others for everything. Every time you drive you will make mistakes, and you need to recognise them, identify the problem, and improve. Even if it “wasn’t your fault,” ask yourself if you could have done something to avoid the near miss. Good drivers ask themselves that question as they know there’s no point having “I was right” on their tombstone.

What other bad signs are there that we haven’t listed? Comment below or get involved in our Facebook group page.


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Practical Motoring

The team of journalists at Practical Motoring bring decades of automotive and machinery industry experience. From car and motorbike journalists to mechanical expertise, we like to use tools of the trade both behind the computer and in the workshop.


  1. Interesting on hand position on the steering wheel. When I started to learn to drive, it was “a quarter to three” but with modern material in steering wheels and improved ratios for steering boxes (and now rack and pinion), in the early 1960s we moved to “10 to 2”. Then I learned from the Police Driving Manual (Hendon) in the late 1960s that there are extremely good reasons fro using the “10 to 2” position, including breathing, mobility and rapid response. I’ve tried and experimented and found that “10 to 2” is the best position for the normal driver, driving on the road in a normal car. When I’ve instructed students, I’ve explained why and shown them and it only takes a short time for them to agree.
    If you find another, older, method works for you, then OK, but it can be shown why it’s not the best.

    1. Thanks Doug. OK, an article on Why 9-3 is better than 10-2 will follow then!!! Would be very interested in evidence favouring 10-2.

  2. I come from a different generation, learning to drive between 1963 and when I got my licence in 1968. Now I am very interested in road safety, from a personal and professional point of view.

    When I started to learn, I was taught to use the old “9 to 3”, but as I progressed I was moved to the modern “10 to 2”. As my background is in education, I wanted to know why. The best explanation I saw was in a (then current) Police Driving Handbook from Hendon (UK). A skeletal diagram of a driver was shown in an optimal seating position and then hands were placed at “9 to 3”, “10 to 2” and on top or bottom of the wheel. Top and bottom simply restrict movement too much – try it yourself, but in a sheltered area.
    At “9 to 3”, a number of problems are evident: the wheel has to be gripped, lest control is lost; loose control allows the hands to fall off the wheel; the position of the elbows prevents proper inhalation and leads to premature exhaustion. Quite frankly, it’s an outmoded and unsatisfactory grip position except for short times and specialised tasks. It’s certainly too exhausting and dangerous for long distance driving (greater than two hours).
    At “10 to 2”, a loose grip is made tighter as the hands loosen and drop; the position of the arms ensures this. There is no impedance to breathing; normal inhalation and exhalation is possible, as is talking. After a two-hour period there is little or no exhaustion. For small movements, such as directional changes within a lane for road irregularities, a downward movement of 30 degrees is easily done with no effort – as is the return to straight.

    Quite frankly, the argument about hand position distills down to a position which allows more effective vehicle control while not inhibiting bodily function – and “10 to 2” is the only one which does it. Try it, when you’re correctly seated (a science in itself, which when done poorly leads to poor car control and potentially fatal results, which don’t show up in collision scene analysis) and see the difference it makes.

    For correct seating, sit in the seat, move it forward until your foot presses flat on the firewall while your coccyx is firmly in the joint between the seat and back. Then move the seat back until you can, with your arms outstretched, just touch the steering wheel (you’ll be forcing yourself into the seat back cushion). Then move yourself up or down to observe the instruments correctly. Then work through all positions again with more finesse until seated properly. Then adjust all mirrors for an overall view and you can drive safely, securely and comfortably.

    1. Thanks Doug.

      ” The best explanation I saw was in a (then current) Police Driving Handbook from Hendon (UK).”

      Roadcraft? I have a copy myself.

      I offer a different view. Back in the day, steering wheels were very large. There’s some examples here:

      These large steering wheels couldn’t reasonably be gripped at 9-3, so 10-2 made sense for all the reasons you describe.

      But with modern cars the steering wheels have become progessively smaller, as we want more room back in the cabin and power steering alleviates the need for leverage of muscle. So our hands can now fall back to 9-3.

      The reason I teach 9-3 for both road and offroad purposes is because of better car control. The further your hands are away from each other the better able you are to make small adjustments, and the better the car can tell you what’s going on. The extreme other position is hands at 11-1, and nobody is able to control a car well like that.

      So far, every advanced driver trainer (for performance purposes) has been very firm on 9-3 for control, and my experience with students is they are better able to control the car at 9-3. These courses have no focused on long-distance driving and that is an interesting consideration – I don’t think it wise to keep hands fixed in any position for hours on end.

      We then come to rotational vs shuffle steering, which I’ll also cover the in the post!

      1. The Roadcraft manual does not give the same detail as the edition in the 1960s. Whereas the current edition is glossy and beautifully set out, it lacks the background explanation of the earlier editions (not termed Roadcraft, but rather a text book for the driving course – not available to civilians).
        Being an ex-teacher, I want to know the theory behind anything and then why and how the theory is applied to carry out actions. That’s why, having read the current edition of Roadcraft, I still use what I term the modern “10 to 2” rather than the old-fashioned “9 to 3”. The slippery surfaces in the pictured example of an older steering wheel was the justification given as to why “9 to 3”, where the spokes always were, gave a rigid surface for sure grip.
        However I’m sure we are going to have to agree to differ.

  3. Sitting in the right-hand lane
    Never checking mirrors to see what’s happening behind you
    Reacting from the car directly in front of you rather than looking at lights and other cars up ahead – leads to getting stuck at the lights and the snake-like stop-start of freeway peak hour.

  4. How does these articles work, it says 4th May 2017 at the top, but comments are from 2 years ago??

    1. Hi PretBurg, sometimes we will pull out an old article, dust it off, update it if necessary and then re-publish it. This article was originally published two years ago but is just as relevant today… it’s what we call ‘evergreen’ content. Hope that clears up the confusion. – Isaac

  5. I’ve been watching traffic for years now as I ride a motorbike and need to be aware of where the next threat is coming from. Most people disagree with me when I say this but the observational evidence is there and others see it when they do what I do.
    Probably among the worst vehicle operators on the road are: (ready for it) Honda owners (oblivious to mirrors); Prado owners (both females and those males whose vaginas hurt too much should they get a proper Landcruiser); & P-platers (about 50%).

    There are also a LOT of riders of motorcycles who give the rest of us a bad name.

  6. A terrible driver does not know how to properly adjust his/her side mirrors. If I am behind someone at a light, and I can see their face in the side mirrors – THAT person is a bad driver. The side mirrors are for your bling spot. When you are looking at your center mirror, the second a car disappears from view – it should then appear in your side mirror (left or right). You should NEVER have to turn your head away from the road ahead to pass. THAT is dangerous and annoying.

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