Whether you are driving alone or with a passenger, driving safely should be your top concern. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 32,000 people are killed each year due to motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Distracted driving is also a leading cause of collisions with more than 9 people killed each day (CDC.gov).
Below is a list of 15 driving safety tips everyone should follow - check it out!
Do regular checks
Although you may be a great driver, routine checks can ensure that your vehicle is in good operating condition before you hit the road. Checking your tires’ tread depth can be easily overlooked at times but is one of the easiest ways to maximize your safety and performance. Just before starting your car, walk around your car to check for damages or anything blocking your car. When inside your car, lock your doors and check that all passengers (including you!) fasten your seat belts - this will protect you in the event of a car crash.
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Practice defensive driving and be active
Defensive driving is a simple set of driving skills that protects yourself against collisions caused by poor driving (i.e. drunk drivers, poor weather conditions, etc.). Some tips for defensive driving are:
- Expect the unexpected and plan for it ahead of time
- Pay attention to other drivers and be ready to react (i.e. when a driver makes a mistake)
- Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you; and 4-seconds during bad weather
- Be alert at all times and eliminate distractions
- Drive at a controllable speed
- Don’t assume about other drivers intentions
Obey traffic laws and practices
Sometimes when we’re in a rush, we think that speeding through yellow lights or stop signs are okay. But signs and traffic laws are put in place to minimize accidents and practice safe driving. Despite many people’s disbelief, yellow lights do not mean you can drive through the intersection; it is to notify drivers to slow down and prepare to stop. So respect the light and decelerate. When nearing a stop sign or red light, come to a complete stop. Even when you think no vehicles are coming, respect the stop sign and stop for a full 3 seconds before moving.
Drivers must remember to follow the posted speed limits as they maximize safety for drivers and their surroundings (i.e. homes and businesses).
Eliminate all distractions
This tip is a no-brainer; we’ve all heard about the danger of distracted driving. Although cell phone usage is the primary form of distracted driving; eating, interacting with passengers and changing the radio station are other forms that may seem harmless. If you really need to eat a bite or fix something in your car, pull off to the side of the road.
Your pets and kids can also be a big distraction. Dog owners love to drive with their pooches but you may be risking your life as well as your dog’s life. The safest place for your dog in a vehicle is the back seat or hatch with a protective harness or grill. For parents, make sure your children are properly buckled before driving. When driving, don’t allow your kids to fight, scream or climb around in your car as too much noise may distract you from focusing and cause you to take your eyes off the road.
Adjust your driving behavior to conditions
As previously mentioned, posted speed limits are there to protect you and others on the road. However, they usually apply to ideal driving conditions (i.e. a nice sunny day). If you’re driving through a rainstorm, it’s your responsibility to match your speed to the weather and to the traffic flow. Keep a safe braking distance between you and the car in front of you, especially on the highway as you don’t want to be making any sudden stops. Remember that for every mile per hour your drive, your likelihood of being in a car accident increases.
Control your emotions
It’s easy to be angry and impatient when driving, especially when you’re rushing to get from one point to another. Being emotionally overwhelmed can cause you to suffer from tunnel vision and But when driving, safety should take priority. If a driver cuts you off while driving, don’t repeat his/her actions. Instead, keep your cool and don’t dwell on their actions. Take a few deep, slow breaths to help keep yourself calm and anger free.
Never drive under the influence
Not only is driving under the influence is extremely dangerous for you, but for other drivers and passengers as well. Do not operate a vehicle if you’ve been drinking or taking certain types of prescription or non-prescription drugs. Call yourself a taxi or call a family member/friend to come get you.
Use turn signals and headlights
Turn signals should not be overlooked. Blinkers indicate to other drivers about your next move, whether you’re turning or making a lane change. Remember to always check your mirrors (especially your blind spot!) for oncoming cars or pedestrians before you make your turn.
Headlights are also useful for driving in poor weather conditions and not just at night. When you’re driving in the rain, snow or fog, turn on your headlights to help you see more clearly.