While many accidents are unavoidable, many more can be prevented by paying close attention to a few safe driving tips. Taking precautions like adjusting and checking your car's mirrors can not only save money on your insurance premium by avoiding accidents and claims but can also save lives.The most basic and important skills of safe driving are concerned with protecting not only your own life but also the lives of your loved ones and those around you.
Inspect Your Vehicle
Chances are, when you went to get your license, the DMV did a full inspection of the car. They had you turn on your headlights and brights, honk your horn, press your brakes to see if your brake lights were working and had you turn on each of your blinkers and your hazard lights. They may also have checked the tires. You can perform all of these tests yourself often to make sure that all of the essential safety features of your car are working. It would come as quite a shock to hit by a driver behind you, only to later find out that your brake lights weren't functioning properly. Ask a friend or family member to help you do a full inspection of your car at least once a week. It could save you the hassle of a claim that could end up being your fault due to a malfunction.
Once inside the car, make sure that your seat is adjusted to where you can easily reach and press down the pedals. Do not sit so close as to put yourself in danger from being too close to the airbag. Your chest should not be anywhere near close enough to touch the steering wheel. But have no fear. While you may have heard several myths about airbags, they are designed to protect you.Adjust your rearview mirror so that you can see the road behind you. Then adjust your side mirrors, which can be tricky. The best way to adjust your mirrors for maximum visibility is to place the side of your head against the left window and adjust the mirror until you can see the side of your car. For the right side, move your head to the center of the car and do the same thing.
Airbags are important, but the device in your car that has saved the most lives is your seatbelt. Always wear your seatbelt, even for short trips. Lastly, be sure that you’re wearing it correctly. Your state may have laws where it is not required to buckle up in the back seat, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need a seatbelt in the backseat. Read more about the importance of buckling up.
Always Obey the Laws
One of the most important and seemingly obvious safe driving tips is to follow all of the rules of the road. This means obeying every traffic sign: stop sign, yield sign, etc... It also means staying within the posted speed limit. Most of us are guilty of speeding to get to work on time or rolling through a stop sign when it seems like no one else is in the intersection. These habits can be life-threatening. A correct stop is to fully stop at the sign. One trick to help you measure the length of time you should be stopped is to count out the letters S-T-O-P in your head. If you don’t see any issues in the road or intersection, you can proceed with caution.
If you are at a traffic light, wait for it to turn green and then take a few seconds of your time to look in all directions before proceeding into the intersection. Never trust that everyone around you will be obeying the signal. Leave about 10 minutes early to avoid having to speed. Avoiding a full stop or a lecture from your boss is not worth an accident that could have been avoided.
Always use your turn signal too! Turning on your blinker well before your turn alerts the drivers around you to prepare for you to switch lanes. Be aware that another driver could change lanes or turn suddenly without using their blinker. You should be ready to avoid an accident in this situation.
Maybe you didn’t fail to yield on purpose; you just weren’t paying attention. It is easy to make a mistake, especially on a route you take often. But do not be lulled into just driving by memory. Have you ever accidentally driven home instead of going to your final destination? It is imperative to remain alert at all times so that you don’t fall into an unfocused state of mind. Keeping your eyes moving can help to prevent you from zoning out. You could try looking to the sides of the road, then to the lanes around you, and then to your mirrors every few seconds. What’s most important is that you stay focused and aware of what is happening around you. You will be much more prepared for a sudden stop or an evasive maneuver to avoid an accident.
Distracted driving is another potential danger to you. Do not use your cell phone while driving. Texting and driving is the epitome of distracted driving and can put you and those around you in danger. No text is so important that you should risk your life for it.
Always be aware of parked vehicles on the side of the road. Just in case the door opens or someone gets out of the parked vehicle, you should move into another lane to avoid passing too closely to the vehicle, if possible. The same goes for a car that has been pulled over by the police. In some states, there are laws against staying in the lane beside the officer if there is another lane to which you can move. If your car stalls and you need to pull to the side of the road, put on your hazard lights and avoid standing or walking near the road. Close all doors nearest to the road, and leave them closed.
Always Drive Sober
Another seemingly obvious tip is to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You may feel okay to drive after a few beers, but your driving could be impaired which could not only hurt those around you but also land you in jail. If you aren’t sure if you are okay to drive, you can calculate your blood alchol content easily with online tools such as http://bloodalcoholcalculator.org/. If the tool alerts you that you are not okay to drive, don’t do it. Call a friend, hail a cab, or use a ridesharing service. If you are a passenger, never get into the car with someone who has been drinking heavily or doing drugs.
Adjust for Conditions
Your headlights should be on when it is raining, and you should avoid slamming on your brakes on the wet road. Sudden movements can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. If the rain is heavy enough that you still cannot see or if your car begins to swerve, you should put your hazard lights on and pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. Wait for conditions to improve before driving again.
Driving at night can be dangerous because of limited visibility. If you know that you have trouble seeing at night, or your doctor has told you not to drive at night, then you should not be driving when it’s dark outside! Always turn on your headlights so that you can see in front of you and also so that you can be seen by others. Always be aware that some people could be driving without their headlights, and be ready for evasive maneuvers if their vehicle appears suddenly. Be aware when using your brights and turn them off when another car is approaching from the front. Blinding another driver with your high beams can create a very dangerous situation for you and for them. Lastly, never drive when tired! If you feel your eyes closing, pull over and let someone else drive, or get to a hotel for some much-needed rest.
Tailgating is one of the most dangerous habits on the road. You are much more likely to rear end the car in front of you if you are not following at least four seconds behind. Watch for the car ahead of you to pass a stationary object like a light pole. Count to four slowly. If you reach the pole before you reach four, you are far too close. Remember! The faster you’re driving, the more time you will need to brake. If you’re on a two-lane road, remember that the left lane allows you to pass if it is a passing zone. Rather than tailgate the vehicle in front of you, simply pass the cars in front of you that are driving below the speed limit. Then, when you are no longer passing any other vehicles, move back to the right lane. Staying out of the passing lane when you’re not passing can keep you from getting tailgated yourself and will inevitably reduce the buildup of traffic. Tailgating can be especially dangerous when driving near a large truck or 18-wheeler. These vehicles have large blind spots. Stay a safe distance behind and pass them with caution.
Safe driving may seem difficult, but being aware of the road around you and the things you need to know can save your life and the lives of others. There are several apps you can download to help you drive more carefully. EverDrive is an app by EverQuote that gives you feedback on your driving and how to improve it. It summarizes your trips and gives you details about your maneuvers. There is no need to even touch your phone while using the app because it detects when you are driving. So there is no excuse for you to drive dangerously! Follow these tips and drive safely.