Many people in Utah drive every day, a routine that carries significant responsibilities. Drivers should develop good habits behind the wheel to keep everyone safe, which includes not only themselves, but their passengers, other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians.

Unfortunately, avoidable traffic accidents often lead to injuries and fatalities due to hazardous driving behaviors like distracted driving and speeding. In 2022, speeding contributed to 35% of fatal crashes, while 7% involved distracted driving.

Understanding and correcting bad driving behaviors can make Utah roads safer for everyone.

5 Bad Habits You Should Quit and Why

Even the most cautious drivers can fall into bad habits. Whether it’s an occasional oversight or a behavior you didn’t realize was dangerous, it’s essential to recognize these actions and implement changes to ensure your safety and that of others:

1. Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents and includes activities that divert your attention from the road, such as texting, using a smartphone, eating, or adjusting the radio. In 2022 alone, distracted driving led to 3,308 fatalities nationwide. Far too many drivers drive distracted despite knowing it’s dangerous, thinking it’s fine if it’s only for a few seconds. But a second with your eyes off the road is all it can take.

In Utah, it’s against the law to manually write, send, or read text-based communications like texts or emails while driving. If you’re involved in an accident, your smartphone records could be used to prove negligence, potentially making you liable for the crash. A distracted driving accident can increase the risk of injuring yourself or others.

To avoid these risks, always place your phone out of reach when driving and use hands-free devices if you need to make a call. You can also use apps that help prevent phone usage in the car to keep you accountable.

2. Speeding

Speed limits are set to ensure the safety of all road users, but speeding remains a common problem. Driving at high speeds reduces your reaction time and increases the severity of accidents. Many drivers underestimate how dangerous speeding is.

In Utah, motorists must adhere to speed regulations, including a basic law that requires driving at speeds that are “reasonable and prudent” for current conditions, which can depend on weather, traffic, and road characteristics. The state also sets presumed maximum speed limits for different zones:

  • 20 mph in school zones
  • 25 mph in urban districts
  • Between 65 to 80 mph on highways and freeways (varies based on locations and road type — refer to posted signage)

Break this bad habit by regularly checking your speedometer to ensure you adhere to the limit, especially in areas with changing speed zones. Use your vehicle’s cruise control feature on highways to keep within the legal speed limit, and install a speed limiter app on your smartphone to alert you if you exceed set speed thresholds.

3. Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is a dangerous behavior characterized by speeding, erratic lane changes, and following too closely. It jeopardizes road safety by reducing reaction times and increasing the force of impact during collisions, making accidents more likely and severe.

19% of all crashes in Utah in 2022 involved drivers following too closely. Aggressive driving was specifically tied to 10% of all traffic-related deaths in the state, highlighting the deadly consequences of these reckless behaviors.

To avoid accidental aggressive driving, plan your trips with extra time, especially during busy hours, to reduce the urge to speed or make aggressive maneuvers. Check traffic updates to help you avoid congested routes and minimize frustration. Practice mindfulness while driving, such as deep breathing, to stay relaxed and focused and alleviate aggressive reactions to traffic or other drivers’ actions.

4. Driving Under the Influence

Driving under the influence is a highly dangerous behavior that impairs judgment, coordination, and reaction times. The impaired ability to operate a vehicle can lead to poor decision-making, delayed responses to traffic signals, and an inability to gauge distances accurately, increasing the likelihood of collisions.

21% of traffic deaths in Utah involved alcohol in 2022. Many drivers underestimate how impaired they are after drinking. Utah has a .05% blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit, lower than most other states.  This means even a small amount of alcohol can result in a DUI charge and liability for injuries or damages in a crash.

To prevent driving under the influence, always plan for alternative transportation options if you expect to consume alcohol. Use rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, designate a sober driver, or arrange to stay overnight at a friend’s home rather than drive yourself home.

Educate yourself and others about the dangers of impaired driving and participate in community awareness programs to promote safer driving habits.

5. Failing to Use Seat Belts

Failing to use seat belts increases the risk of injury or death in car accidents. Seat belts prevent ejections from the vehicle and lessen injury severity by distributing impact forces across the body. In Utah in 2022, 724 people were injured due to not wearing a restraint, and 89 were killed. 45% of all occupant deaths in crashes were unrestrained.

Utah law requires all passengers to wear seat belts and children 8 and younger to be in a car seat or booster seat. Not following these rules can result in a citation or harm to your loved ones who aren’t properly restrained.

To ensure consistent use of seat belts, always buckle up before driving, and insist that all passengers do the same. Set a rule that the vehicle does not move until everyone is secured, reinforcing seat belt use as a non-negotiable safety practice.

Responsible Driving Habits to Cultivate

Cultivating responsible driving habits is essential for your safety and the well-being of everyone in the community. Replace bad driving habits with the following responsible behaviors for fewer accidents and injuries:

  • Before you start the engine, set your mirrors and seat for optimal visibility and control so you can react quickly to your surroundings.
  • Always stick to speed limits and road signs.
  • Signal your turns or lane changes well in advance, at least 2 seconds before the maneuver, to alert other drivers and pedestrians to your actions.
  • Keep at least a 3-second gap between your vehicle and the one in front of you to ensure enough reaction time and stopping distance, especially at higher speeds or in poor weather conditions.
  • When possible, drive ahead or behind other vehicles rather than alongside them to avoid placing yourself in blind spot areas where you are less visible to other drivers.
  • Set your GPS and music before you drive, and avoid using your phone or other electronic devices when behind the wheel.

Contact Great West Injury Law for a Free Case Review

While changing your driving habits can lower your risk of an accident, it doesn’t eliminate the danger due to other drivers’ unpredictable behavior. If you are injured in a car accident, get the legal representation you deserve with our Utah car accident attorneys at Great West Injury Law.

Our knowledgeable and experienced legal team is committed to supporting auto accident victims. Reach out to us for a free consultation today. Our team is dedicated to ensuring you don’t face the aftermath of your crash alone and will strive to secure the compensation you deserve.