The most common bad habits of Victorian drivers

Hands on a steering wheel

Nicola Dowse

Posted October 07, 2022

Most people aren’t aware of their bad habits and need an expert to point them out. These are the most common bad driving habits witnessed by RACV Drive School instructors.  

Everyone has bad habits in one form or another. When it comes to driving, those bad habits can have serious consequences for you and the other people on the road.  

Whether you picked up your bad habit by watching your parents as a child, or you misunderstood the road rule while learning, or you’ve become just a bit too comfortable on the road with experience.  

Whatever the reason, there are plenty of bad habits exhibited by motorists in Victoria. These habits aren’t just unsafe, some can lead to your car wear out faster, or land you a serious fine.

As experts in producing safer and more confident drivers, RACV Drive School instructors have seen plenty of bad habits on the roads, and know how to fix them. 

Want to break your bad driving habits? Book in for a lesson with RACV Drive School.  

The 10 most common bad driving habits

Not signalling at roundabouts 

It’s a common point of contention among motorists – do you need to signal when using a roundabout to drive straight? 

According to RACV Drive School Senior Instructor, Silvia Morris, the law is quite clear. “What many drivers often do not realise is that Victorian legislation states that drivers must signal left before they leave a roundabout when it is practical to do so,” she says.  

That means that you should signal left when travelling straight through a roundabout, so long as it’s practical.

“It may be unpractical to put your indicator on if you are travelling straight through a small roundabout, as your hands will be in motion managing the steering. However, at larger roundabouts where this is practical it can assist with traffic.” 

The legislation also means you should indicate left when exiting a roundabout on the right. 

“If you are turning right at a large roundabout you should start by signalling right, and then change your indicator to a left indicator when you pass the exit prior to the one you plan to take.” 

Incorrect vehicle shutdown technique

You’ve pulled into a parking spot – do you put your car into park first, or do you apply your handbrake first? 

“When parking, many drivers will put the car into the relevant parking gear first and then apply the handbrake last. This technique can increase the wear and tear on transmission components and may lead to repair costs,” Morris says.

“Drivers should apply the handbrake first in automatic vehicles, and then put the vehicle in Park (P) gear before turning the engine off. Drivers of manual transmission vehicles should also apply the handbrake first, and then select the relevant gear for parking.” 

That means putting your manual car into Neutral if parking on a flat surface, in First gear if parking uphill, and in Reverse if parking downhill.


A roundabout sign by a road

Victorian motorists are required to indicate left when leaving a roundabout, so long as it's practical to do so. Photo: Getty.

Not indicating when changing lanes 

Most drivers know you’re required to indicate when changing lanes. But do you know exactly when you should use your indicator?

Morris advises that motorists should use their indicator before they start changing lanes. “Your indicator should be used as a tool to let people know your intentions, rather than a tool to say I'm moving right now,” she says.  

“If you communicate your intention to other road users beforehand, if you missed something then that hazard can potentially try to avoid you.”

Don’t skip your head checks when changing lanes either. Drivers can get lazy over time or rely too much on technology (like blind spot indicators) when changing lanes. Morris recommends always doing a physical head check as a precaution, to avoid vehicles that have already entered your blind spot or are approaching laterally.

Hands at 10 and 2, not 9 and 3

Prior to the inclusion of airbags in cars, it was common practice to teach drivers to position their hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel. “Driving with your hands in this position now increases your risk of injury in the event of an accident,” Morris says.  

The National Road Safety Partnership Program now recommends drivers position their hands at 9 and 3, which allows your airbag to safely deploy should you be involved in an accident.

Being inflexible with travel route 

Even if printed maps have gone out of fashion, it’s still important to be flexible when navigating the roads.

“I've lost count of how many times I've seen drivers brake suddenly or erratically change lanes at the last moment so they can make a turn,” Morris says.  

“This seriously dangerous behaviour [that] puts themselves and all the other road users around them at risk.”

If you don’t have time to make a turn safely, take the next available turn, or perform a U-turn where safe to do so. Or plan your trip before setting out with a flexible journey planner like arevo


Traffic on the Westgate Freeway in Melbourne

You should use your indicator before you start switching lanes to let other drivers know your intention. Photo: Getty.

Driving on painted islands

Roads often feature a flat, painted island prior to a dedicated turning lane, with some drivers confused as to whether you can drive on this island.  

“Vehicles are permitted to drive on a painted island with a single continuous line around it for up to 50 metres to enter a turning lane that begins immediately after the painted island, or to enter or leave a road,” Morris says. 

If you are driving on a painted island, you must give way to any vehicles already in the turning lane that follows the island, as well as vehicles entering from the lane beside the turning lane.  

Using bicycle and bus lanes correctly

Don’t wait until the last moment to enter a bicycle or bus lane if you need to turn left. 

Motorists are permitted to enter a bike lane up to 50m before turning left, so long as they indicate their intention to turn and give way to cyclists.

“When drivers don’t use the bicycle lane before turning, they not only disrupt the flow of traffic, but they also put themselves at a higher risk of a rear end collision if they unexpectedly stop to give way to a pedestrian for example,” Morris says.  

Drivers can likewise use a bus lane for the same purpose and can enter the lane up to 100m from the turn.


A woman driving a car while her passenger uses a phone to navigate

It's not worth braking suddenly or driving dangerously just to follow a set route. Photo: Getty.

Only using headlights at night 

Your headlights shouldn’t just be used when it gets dark. “When visibility is impaired due to conditions such as rain or fog, or at dusk, dawn and night-time, I often see motorists driving without their headlights on.,” says Morris.  

“Even when it is still light outside sun glare during dusk and dawn can impact visibility and makes vehicles harder to see.” 

Put your headlights on in these conditions to minimise your risks while driving.  

Illegally parking near continuous lines 

Did you know it’s illegal to park within three metres of a single continuous line? Many drivers don’t.  

“It seems drivers are not aware that it is illegal to park within three metres of a single continuous line, unless there is a parking control sign stating otherwise,” says Morris.  

These lines are commonly found in locations where it is dangerous to park, such as close to intersections or bends in the road.  

“Parking illegally next to these lines puts other road users at risk when they are forced to travel at a dangerous position in the oncoming lane to manoeuvre around the parked car.”  

Low-level speeding 

You might not think it matters if you’re going only a few kilometres over the legal speed limit, but there are very real consequences to even low-level speeding. 

“For every 5km you drive above the speed limit your chance of having an accident is doubled,” Morris says.  

Exceeding the speed limit is unlikely to get you to your destination faster either.  

“It is not uncommon to see drivers erratically weaving through traffic to try and get ahead, yet the safer drivers always seem to catch up to them at the next traffic light anyway."


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