driving-myths

We’re living in a golden age of information – and misinformation. With so much fake news out there, it’s hard to tell fact from fiction, so nobody’s blaming you if you’ve fallen for a couple of driving myths here and there. That doesn’t mean you have to stay in the dark, though. Here’s the truth behind five driving myths you probably believe.

Myth One: You should honk your horn when a driver cuts you off or otherwise annoys you.

If a driver cuts you off, you get angry and want to do something – but the best thing you can do is focus on your own driving and safety. According to the California Driver Handbook, honking you horn in these situations can make a bad situation worse. The driver who cut you off has already shown poor judgment and may retaliate if you honk, leading to an incident of road rage. The handbook states that drivers should honk to avoid collisions, when trying to make eye contact with other drivers to avoid a collision and on narrow mountain roads where sight is limited to less than 200 feet. Using your horn for other reasons is against California vehicle codes and can land you a ticket.

Myth Two: Driving while under the influence of marijuana is safe.

There have been several studies on this topic, with varying results. According the National Institute on Drug Abuse, marijuana has negative effects on judgment, motor coordination and reaction time – all things you need when you drive. Driving while high is a bad idea. Even if it doesn’t result in an accident, it can lead to legal problems. Despite new laws on recreational marijuana, driving while high is still against the law.

Myth Three: Red cars get more traffic tickets.

This kind of makes sense in a way. Red cars seem flashy. Perhaps they appeal to drivers who are inclined to speed, or maybe the police pay more attention to them. Either way, the common wisdom is that red cars get more traffic tickets than other cars. According to Snopes, it isn’t true. So if you want a red car, go ahead and get one.

Myth Four: You’re good at multitasking, so it’s OK if you text and drive.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you’re probably not as good at multitasking as you think. You can read more about the science behind it at Popular Science, but the basic takeaway is that very, very few people are actually competent multitaskers, and the people who think they can multitask tend to be the worst at it. In other words, the fact that you think you can multitask is evidence that you cannot. And even if you can multitask, it’s still illegal to drive while using a handheld electronic device in California, so put your phone away and focus on the road.

Myth Five: Gang members leave their headlights off at night and attack anyone who tries to warn them.

Okay, maybe you don’t believe this one, but a part of you may still wonder if it’s true – and worry that it is. You might even avoid warning other drivers when their headlights are off, just in case. You can relax. This is an old urban legend. It’s supposed to be a gang initiation – the person joining the gang has to kill the friendly driver who tries to alert them to the dark headlights with a courtesy flash – but there is no evidence to support this legend. In fact, an NPR article on the subject goes one step further and shows that it’s actually offensive to some gang members.

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