10 Wacky Driving Myths You Still Might Believe

Posted by Pekin Insurance on Jan 02, 2017

These popular driving myths may have you doing all kinds of crazy—and maybe illegal—things.

When a child turns sixteen (or fifteen and a half in some states), they go to get their learner's permit, and the rest is up to parents, relatives, friends, and hopefully a driving instructor to show them the ropes. As a result, we've all been taught a lot of driving myths that aren't true anymore, and some of them never were to begin with.

Before delving into some popular myths, it's important to remember that word-of-mouth driving advice should always be checked out either with an owner's manual, a driver's education professional, or a law enforcement professional. It's not enough to believe something just because it came from someone you know and trust, especially if it sounds as unlikely as some of the following driving myths do.


Myth #1: An empty gas tank isn't really empty

There may be a little truth in this myth, but it depends on the kind of car you have. Some cars have reserves while others show you almost the exact amount of fuel remaining in the tank. The best thing to do, of course, is never to operate a vehicle with a tank on empty. But if you're the type who might not notice the gas level for a while, it's a good idea to become familiar with your car's tank. Read the owner's manual to find out the tank's capacity, run the car down to "E," fill up the tank, and find the difference between how much it took you to fill it up and how many gallons the owner's manual has listed.

Or, you know, just don't drive with an empty tank.

Myth #2: Sandbags in the trunk help with traction

This is one of those driving myths that just isn't true at all. Having sandbags in the trunk does nothing for traction, and if anything, it reduces fuel efficiency by making your car heavier. You're better off keeping a winter emergency kit in your car in case of inclement weather.

Myth #3: Oil changes are required every 3,000 miles

It's a little unfair to include this on a list of debunked driving myths because once upon a time, it was true. However, cars are built differently now and don't require as much scheduled maintenance. If you go to an oil change facility, they'll likely still put 3,000 on that windshield sticker, but check your owner's manual. You might be paying for changes you don't yet need.

Myth #4: Driving in reverse on a one-way street is okay

No! Just like you shouldn't drive in reverse on any road, doing so on a one-way street is just as illegal. You can use reverse to backup for a parking space or something of that nature, but you shouldn't be traveling any sort of distance. If the target you overshot is that far back, just go around the block.

Myth #5: Premium gas is better than regular gas

This is one of the more common driving myths just because "premium" makes the product sound better. However, that's not necessarily the case. Specific vehicles are designed for premium gas while others are not. Read the owner's manual to find out the best kind of fuel for your vehicle.

Myth #6: It's illegal to drive barefoot

Yes, barefoot driving really does rank among common driving myths. For better or worse, it isn't true. However, it's also not a good idea. As your foot perspires, it becomes more likely to slip off the pedal, which could result in an accident. That said, if the Fred Flintstone style is your thing, that's on you.

Myth #7: If the flow rate of traffic is above the speed limit, it's okay to speed up to 10 miles above the limit

There are mixed schools of thought on this, but from a legal standpoint, this isn't true. Regardless of how fast other drivers are going, you should always adhere to the posted speed limit, even if that means you're going slower than the flow of traffic. Some say doing so increases the likelihood for accidents, but the law says if those others weren't speeding in the first place, the problem would be solved. Don't give in to peer pressure—abide by the speed limit!

Myth #8: Warm up your car before driving

This is part myth and part fact. For the most part, it is unnecessary from a mechanical perspective. However, most experts agree that a few minutes of driving at a speed of 35 mph or so is beneficial as it gives the oil a chance to run through the engine and warm up. 

Myth #9: Hands-free headsets make talking on the phone safe

This is new among driving myths, but it is a myth all the same. It's not safe to text or talk on the phone at all while driving, and you should only do it in emergency situations. If you need to talk, pull over and shut the engine off.

Myth #10: Position your hands at 10 and 2 on the steering wheel

This is another myth that used to be true but isn't anymore. Driving experts suggest a 9 and 3 approach, as well as a hand's distance between you and the steering wheel in case of airbag deployment.

It's certainly no myth that you need auto insurance for those unexpected events. See what kind of comprehensive auto coverage Pekin Insurance can offer you. Call your local agent today!

What's the wackiest driving myth you've heard? We'd love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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