Driving is an essential part of daily life, and it’s important to have accurate information about the rules of the road and best practices. Unfortunately, many myths have been circulating for years, and they have the potential to confuse and mislead drivers.
In this article, we aim to separate fact from fiction and provide accurate information on common driving myths you should know about.
Myth #1: Having your cabin lights on while driving will get you pulled over by the police
False. Having your cabin lights on while driving does not necessarily mean you will get pulled over by the police. In most states, it is not illegal to drive with your interior lights on, and there are no penalties for doing so. However, it is important to note that having your interior lights on can be a distraction and reduce your visibility on the road (especially at night) so it is best to turn them off when driving.
Myth #2: It is illegal to change lanes at an intersection
False. There is no law that explicitly prohibits changing lanes at an intersection. However, you should remember that changing lanes should always be done safely and with caution. If there is a lot of traffic or limited visibility, it may not be safe to change lanes, and it may be best to wait until you have a clear view of the road and no other vehicles are in your path.
And always, always, always—check both of your blind spots.
Myth #3: Throwing hot water on a frozen windshield removes the ice
False. While throwing hot water on a frozen windshield may seem like a quick solution, it is not recommended. The rapid temperature change can cause the glass to crack, and the hot water may also freeze, making the problem even worse. Instead, use a scraper or de-icer to remove the ice, and avoid pouring hot water on your windshield.
You can also use a mix of room temparture water and rubbing alcohol, spraying it on your windshields before removing the ice.
Myth #4: You need to wait for your car to warm up before driving, during the winter
False. There is no need to warm up your car for an extended period before driving in the winter. Modern cars are designed to be ready to drive as soon as you turn the key, and warming up your car for an extended period of time can actually be harmful to your engine. A quick drive to warm up the engine is all that you need.
Myth #5: You can't be pulled over for speeding if you're going with the flow of traffic
False. Going with the flow of traffic does not give you a free pass to speed. The speed limit is the maximum legal speed, regardless of how fast other drivers are going. Police officers can pull you over if they see you exceeding the speed limit, even if you are going with the flow of traffic.
Myth #6: A gas pedal and brake pedal being switched is common and can cause accidents
False. This is a baseless urban legend and there have been no reported cases of this happening. The placement of the pedals in a car is standardized and regulated by law, and it is highly unlikely that a switch would occur in a vehicle.
Myth #7: It's safer to drive with your high beams on all the time
False. While high beams can provide better visibility on dark, rural roads, they can also be a distraction to other drivers and reduce their visibility. It is important to use your high beams appropriately and turn them off when approaching other vehicles or when driving in areas with street lights. It’s both a nice thing to do and makes it so that everyone is safe while driving.
Myth #8: You should always pump your brakes when driving down a steep hill
False. Pumping your brakes can cause them to overheat and reduce their effectiveness, especially when driving down a steep hill. Instead, it is recommended to use engine braking by shifting into a lower gear and letting the engine slow down the vehicle. If necessary, use your brakes gently and consistently to maintain a safe speed if you’re using an automatic vehicle.
Myth #9: You can always avoid a ticket by telling the officer you were late for an appointment
False. Being late for an appointment is not a valid excuse for breaking the law. Police officers are trained to enforce the law and ensure public safety, and they are not likely to be swayed by excuses. If you are pulled over for a traffic violation, it is best to be respectful and follow the officer's instructions.
Myth #10: It's illegal to drive in flip-flops or barefoot
False. There is no specific law that prohibits driving in flip-flops or barefoot, but it is not recommended. Using regular shoes while driving should provide a good grip, support, and protection for your feet, and open-toed shoes like flip-flops can get caught in the pedals and cause an accident.
Myth #11: You should always use the handbrake (also known as an emergency brake) when parking on a hill
False. The handbrake is designed to be used in emergency situations, such as when your foot brake fails (or your feet slip because you’re wearing flip-flops). It is not necessary to use the handbrake when parking on a hill, and doing so can actually cause wear and tear on the brake components. Instead, use the foot brake and engage the parking gear to secure the vehicle from moving backward.
Myth #12: You should always use your parking brake when parked on an incline
False. While using the parking brake can provide added security when parked on an incline, it is not necessary. Engaging the parking gear and using the foot brake is usually enough to secure the vehicle (as mentioned above). Overusing the parking brake can cause wear and tear on the brake components.
Myth #13: You can't get a ticket for speeding if you're on the highway
False. Speeding is illegal on all roads, including highways. Police officers can pull you over for speeding on the highway, and you can receive a ticket for exceeding the posted speed limit. It is important to always drive at a safe and legal speed, regardless of the type of road you are on.
Myth #14: You should always use the highest octane fuel for your vehicle
False. The octane rating of fuel refers to its ability to resist "knocking" or "pinging" during combustion, caused by the air/fuel mixture detonating prematurely in the engine. Unless your vehicle manufacturer specifically recommends using high-octane fuel, using regular unleaded gasoline is fine and can save you money on gas costs.
Myth #15: It's illegal to drive with sunglasses on
False. There is no law that prohibits driving with sunglasses, but it is important to choose sunglasses that provide adequate protection and do not mess with your vision. Polarized lenses can reduce glare and improve visibility, but they can also cause problems with electronic displays, such as GPS or phone screens.
Myth #16: You should always use cruise control on the highway
False. While cruise control can be a convenient feature, it is not always appropriate to use it. It is important to be alert and responsive to changing road conditions, such as other vehicles, road work, and extreme weather. If you encounter any of these conditions, it is best to turn off cruise control and drive at a safe and appropriate speed.
You should be in full control of your vehicle while driving in unpredictable situations.
Myth #17: You can't be pulled over for texting while driving if you're using a hands-free device
False. Many states have laws that prohibit using handheld devices while driving, regardless of whether you are using a hands-free device. Using a hands-free device can still be a distraction, and it is best to avoid using your phone altogether while driving.
Myth #18: It's safer to drive with your windows down in the rain
False. Driving with your windows down in the rain can be dangerous because it can reduce your visibility and increase the risk of water entering the vehicle. It is recommended to keep your windows up and use your windshield wipers to maintain visibility when it’s raining.
Bonus: All of the myths surrounding red cars
We could dive into a whole separate blog post about red cars but, we’ll summarize the common myths around this controversial car color below to save you time:
- Red cars are more expensive to insure: This is a common myth, but the color of your car does not affect your car insurance rates.
- Red cars are more likely to get pulled over: This is also a myth. The likelihood of getting pulled over by the police has more to do with driving behavior, such as speeding or reckless driving, rather than the color of your car.
- Red cars are faster: While red is often associated with speed and performance, the color of a car does not affect its speed or performance.
- Drivers who own red cars are more aggressive: This is a stereotype and has no basis in actual fact. Driving behavior and personality have nothing to do with the color of your car.
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