The importance of safe driving
Driving is something everyone does, but not enough people pay enough attention to it. With traffic congestion increasing every year, it has become harder and harder to drive peacefully through roads, especially those in the city area. If you’re reading this, you probably belong to one of the millions of people who drive hours to get to work, school, or run errands on a daily basis.
It’s easy to slip into autopilot mode when driving. Perhaps you paid close attention to road rules and legislations in the beginning, but dwindled in road diligence as you became more comfortable behind the wheel? Most adults who’ve been driving since their teenage years are often found guilty of road negligence and reckless driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 32,000 people are killed and two million injured in vehicle accidents per year. Crazy, isn’t it? Just by following basic road safety rules, we can all make a significant impact in preventing accidents and injuries. In fact, we’ve compiled a list of important safety tips we can all use a refresher. No matter how long we’ve been driving, none of us should take car safety for granted.
Factor in enough driving time
We all know that time is of the essence but giving yourself too little time to drive can lead to dangerous and reckless driving. Many road accidents are caused by impatient drivers who are rushing from point A to B. Whilst time is an important factor to consider when traveling, road safety is even more important –– after all, being caught in an accident will delay you much longer than if you were patient whilst driving.
Cut away all distractions
You might have heard the phrase, Don’t Drink and Drive, but are you aware of the saying, Don’t Text and Drive? Though it might be common knowledge that texting, and driving should never happen, many people continue to do it all the time. In fact, DMV.org reported that distracted driving, of which texting and browsing cell phones is the leading factor, was responsible for over 3,000 fatal car accidents and fatalities in 2015. Furthermore, texting whilst driving is the leading crucial factor for fatal accidents amongst teenagers –– even surpassing the number of deaths from drinking and driving.
These numbers may be shocking, but drivers must understand the severity of their actions. My advice? Leave your phone in your bag whilst driving and observe total concentration when you’re behind the wheel.
Trust your road sense
With the prevalence of GPS applications such as Waze, GasBuddy, and Yelp, we don’t need to map out our journey before heading in the car. Though it usually is a good thing, trusting your GPS wholeheartedly might not be a good idea. Like all technology, your phone’s GPS may be prone to failing too. Don’t drive into a dead-end, puddle, or a construction zone just because it says you should!
The weather forecast is your best friend
Making adjustments to your travel plans because of the weather can be a real damper. However, it’s a small price to pay to avoid getting into a much bigger accident. When you’re dealing with less-than-perfect weather, such as rainy, foggy, or snowy conditions, take extra precautions and factor in extra time to stay safe whilst driving.
Don’t indulge in road rage
Imagine this: you’re running late for an appointment and caught in heavy traffic. Just when you’re about to make a turn, another driver overtakes you. How would you respond? Driving can already be stressful but feeling extremely angry can lead to aggressive and distracted driving, which could lead to an accident.
Surprisingly, road rage is extremely common amongst drivers. A survey by the Insurance Information Institute found that aggressive driving was the cause for 56 percent of all fatal crashes over five years. If you find yourself in such a situation, take a deep breath and look at the scenario objectively. Is this a life-or-death matter, or would you just be slightly late to work? Furthermore, you never know what the person who overtook you could be facing right now. Perhaps she’s a busy mom, rushing to pick her kid at school? It’s much better to turn up that radio and find something to take off that anger.
Go for regular vehicle maintenance
If you’re a car owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your car is well-maintained and usable. Make sure to conduct regular checkups on your tires, engine, and lights. Remember to change your oil every 3,000 miles and get a yearly inspection to keep your car registered. Don’t wait around to fix any warning signs or abnormal lights that go on –– go check it out immediately!
Be mindful of other drivers
The road is a public space and is shared by everyone alike, be it a motorcyclist, biker, or a car driver. When you’re traveling on the road, observe proper road etiquette by signaling and sharing your plans with other drivers. This allows the surrounding drivers to plan their route around you, such as slowing down if they’re trailing behind you, moving out of the way if you plan to merge lanes, etc. Moreover, you’ll need to look out for bikers and motorcyclists too. Give these smaller vehicles ample space to move, and make sure to keep a constant eye on them through your mirrors.
Familiarize yourself with traffic rules
Whether you’re moving to a new state, migrating, or even thinking of embarking on a road trip, it’s good to read up on your destination’s traffic rules before traveling there. For example, Alabama allows talking on a handheld device whilst driving, whilst this is illegal in Illinois. This includes laws about signaling, passing, maintenance, and speeding as well. Think of it this way –– a simple Google search could potentially save you from a ticket!
If you’re sleepy, don’t drive
This should be basic common sense by now. If you know that you’ll be on the road for long periods, make sure to get enough rest the day before. Refrain from over-snacking and opt for healthy meals to take at regular intervals instead. If needed, factor in break time for a quick snack, leg stretching, and toilet emergencies. Another great way to liven up the journey is to bring a friend along to share the driving or act as a second navigator or company to keep you awake.
Be prepared for emergencies
It never hurts to be over-prepared for something –– even if the chances of it occurring are very slim! Prepare your insurance information and leave it in the car whenever you drive, as well as a list of necessary contacts for tow trucks or car repair mechanics. If you want to go the extra mile, you can purchase and store emergency supplies, such as a spare tire or extra jumper cables.
As a driver, you must be prepared to be responsible for the consequences of your actions –– even if it may not happen to yourself. Always be prepared physically and mentally at all times, and make sure to stay alert and focused when driving. A prepared driver is a safe driver, remember?