5 things to stop doing wrongly in your car from TODAY, including lane merging

Lane merge (yes, we've gone there), wing mirrors, your route, windscreen defrosting and lane changing

4y ago


When you approach a lane closure, don't stay only in the open lanes too early; don't sit in one lane for a mile with an empty lane next to you; don't sit there fuming as people over/undertake you in the empty lane and drive right up to the point where the lane closes.

It's not their fault for queue jumping - it's yours for sticking to the still-open lane too early. The UK highway code says "Where lanes are restricted due to road works, merge in turn." If does not say get in one lane way too soon.

In particular, DO NOT DO THIS (people who try to stop you overtaking like this are acting without reasonable consideration for road users and can be prosecuted in the UK):

Play video

Obviously it's a bit embarrassing if you drive up the open bit and everyone glares at you. But they are wrong, not you. The traffic jam will be shorter in length if we all did this properly - which might mean the back of the queue could be past the junction someone wants to turn off at rather than before it.


The more of your car you can see in your wing mirror, the less of the outside world you can see, and the bigger your blind spot. You don't need to see much or any of your car. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) looked into this a few years ago, and came up with this recommendation.



Look at this picture. The view of the car uses more than a quarter of the visible wing mirror area. This is not necessary.

Image Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Image Source: Alamy Stock Photo


That theory you have about which lane is going faster? It's almost certainly an illusion. Scientists have looked into this.

When you drive past 5 cars in a stationary lane, they will be very close and you pass them in a short space of time and over a short distance. When you are stationary and those same 5 cars pass you, they will be spread out more - the distance from the the front of the 5 cars to the back is much longer than when you drove past the same five cars bunched up. When this cycle happens repeatedly in a traffic jam, this gives the illusion that the other lane is going faster - and every driver suffers from this illusion.

Source: Mirjana Chamberlain-Vucic at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mirjana/117740264/ under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ Also there is too much car in this wing mirror ... see above

Source: Mirjana Chamberlain-Vucic at https://www.flickr.com/photos/mirjana/117740264/ under https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/ Also there is too much car in this wing mirror ... see above

Also the ones you've overtaken disappear from view, while the ones who overtake you are there, in front of you, mocking you with their presence.

Don't believe me? Here are some models to prove it: playingwithmodels.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/should-you-switch-lanes-in-traffic/. Lane switching doesn't work and slows everyone behind you down.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this:


Scientists have found that around half of people's favourite routes for regular journeys aren't actually the quickest way to get there and back: "For example, people tend to choose routes going south rather than routes of equal lengths that go north.

"People favour routes that are straight at the beginning, instead of shorter ones that aren’t straight.

"Landmarks also influence route choice, by attracting more trips than travel-time minimization would expect." blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2016/03/16/driving-were-doing-it-wrong/. So check your sat nav / google maps.


The UK Automobile Association is very clear on this: "Using hot water brings a real risk of damaging a screen. Sudden expansion caused by hot water followed by contraction as it cools can cause the glass to crack, especially if it already has chips or small cracks.

On very cold days this method is ineffective, as the hot water will rapidly cool and almost instantly turn to ice. Worse, it will accumulate on the wipers and freeze them to the screen, risking damage to the wiper motor or ripping off the rubber if you switch them on." www.theaa.com/newsroom/news-2012/defrosting-your-car-aa-autowindshields-advice.html

So there we go. Are you going to change any of your behaviours - or are you a perfect driver and car owner already?

(Main image: www.flickr.com/photos/lasfotosdelcarajoese/4009020145/ under creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

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Comments (87)

  • That guy above stopping the A200 from using a completely empty lane enrages me so much. Just because you choose to merge into one lane way before you need to, doesn't mean everyone else should!

      4 years ago
  • If you can’t do the speed limit, and your face is 3 inches from the steering wheel while you and Harold pull a camper to the country; please pull over and have a snack.

      3 years ago
  • I have never seen anyone pour boiling water on a wind shield, Use a scrapper, a credit card will do, or let the car warm up for a minute or two. Advice from a Canuck.

      3 years ago
    • I have... and I’m seeing one practically every cold morning there is... WV are doing something very weird to the Polo windscreens... as I’m waiting for it to burst in million pieces in my (female) next door occupant... for two years now! She...

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        3 years ago
  • The reason why the "traditional" mirror setting is as it is, is because it's meant to show you what comes up from behind, say on a motorway, at potentially much higher speed than yourself, as you prepare to change lanes.

    If I set my mirror like you idiots suggest all Id see is a lot of side barrier most of the time and a glimpse of a passing car that's in my blind spot some time. But I'll miss the dangerously fast car that comes shooting from behind. Yes of course don't show half your own car in the mirror but seriously, there's a lot of angle still to go from not seeing anything of my car and pointing 30° away from the car across the bloody road.

      4 years ago
    • Indeed, and at least in Finnish driving school we were also taught to turn our heads to check the blind spot before changing lane.

        4 years ago
    • I have it like above and have no issues at all. Actually works much better than the traditional way. I have no blindspot. No cars can hide out of the mirrors. And obviously always still look over your shoulder first

        4 years ago
  • Learning the proper technique to adjust wing mirrors was truly life changing for me. I had been driving for years, with a large amount of the side of my car showing in the mirrors, just like I had been taught in Driver's Education. Then I bought a car with impossible blind spots (Mini Coupe S). I researched online to find a better way to cope with those blind spots. I readjusted my mirrors, and haven't looked back (literally or figuratively) since. Why have I been driving with them any other way all these years? And why don't they teach this method in Driver's Education?

      4 years ago
    • I was never taught the "traditional" way until I took driver's Ed in high school. I argued over and over in class how unsafe that was and nearly got kick out of class. To this day, I preach to people to adjust their mirrors so they do not have their...

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        4 years ago
    • Because you're supposed to look at the blind spot... In our country you can basically adjust the mirrors the way you want but you physically have to turn your head and look.

        4 years ago