Driving around in your car with the music blaring can be one of the most relaxing parts of your day. You get to escape from the world and just be in your own personal bubble for a few minutes. However, many people forget that they’re in control of three tons of steel which can cause a lot of damage if that control isn’t maintained.
Safety in driving is drilled into our heads when we’re preparing for a driving exam, and once we pass, they’re completely forgotten about. That’s why more and more vehicle accidents are happening each year. So instead of putting yourself and those around you at risk, commit these safety tips to mind and make them your creed for the road.
1. No more Cellphone Use
It is against the law in many states to use your cellphone when you’re driving, but this rule also extends to using your phone even when you’re waiting at a red light. Many people can’t resist the temptation to pick up their phones and see the latest text message they received from their friends, and looking at the screen means that their eyes are not on the road. And when your eyes aren’t on the road, you increase your risk of getting into an accident.
In 2017 alone, there were 3,166 people killed in vehicular accidents as a result of distracted driving. That makes up about 8% of all the vehicular accidents that occurred within the year alone. To really understand the dangers of how bad texting while driving is, say you’re driving at 55 mph down the highway. You get a text message, which takes your eyes off the road for roughly 5 seconds. In that time span, your car has traveled the length of a football field. The best thing to do is to mute your phone and don’t check it until you’ve parked somewhere safely.
2. Buckling your Seatbelt
It’s there, so why not use it? In 2016, the use of the seatbelt helped to save over 14,000 lives involves in car accidents. The majority of drivers choose to wear seatbelts but there are still some who refuse to do so.
Car manufacturers have even started including a warning beep that sounds every few seconds if you’re driving without your seatbelt on. This can be something of a deterrent, as it won’t turn off until your seatbelt is fastened. If one of your biggest complaints is that it’s uncomfortable, it’s less uncomfortable than having your face bashed into your steering wheel or your dashboard.
3. Using the Acceleration Ramp Correctly
When you’re merging onto the highway, it’s important that you speed up in order to match that of other traffic. This will minimize other drivers have to slam on the brakes as you try to merge into traffic, reducing the chances of an accident. There’s no real need to slam on the gas; a steady acceleration to match the speed of the other drivers is all you need.
4. Don’t Drive Too Closely
Many people are guilty of what is known as tailgating. This is when you’re driving too close to the vehicle in front of you, which creates a very dangerous situation. Getting right behind the bumper of the car in front of you is not going to make them go faster, and if they put on the brakes, you’re going to rear end them pretty badly. Your injury claim definitely won’t end up in your favour, since you’re the one who created the dangerous situation in the first place.
In order to avoid an accident, it’s best to leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you have at least 3 seconds to come to a stop. Count the time between the vehicle in front of you passes a marker (a mailbox or a street sign) and when you pass it. If it’s less than three seconds, then you need to slow down.
5. Using the Left Lane to Pass
It’s important to be considerate of those may need to pass you. The general rule is that you should stay in the right lane and only use the left lane for passing. Some states even make it illegal for you to drive in the left lane if you have no intention of passing other cars. If you notice a car is coming up behind you in your rearview mirror, pull over into the right lane so that they can get past you.
6. Exiting your Car Carefully
When you’re involved in an accident, it’s important to practice safety when you’re getting out of your vehicle. Do your best to pull off of the road as much as possible so that other cars don’t run into you. If you can, get out of your car on the passenger’s side to minimize the risk of getting run over. Distracted drivers may not notice you or your car when they’re rubbernecking at an accident.
7. Drive Defensively
Drive like you anticipate other people are going to make mistakes. This puts you on the defensive when something does go wrong so that you can react accordingly. This means cutting out all of the distractions while you drive and not relying on other people to keep an eye out for you. Have no expectations for other drivers so that you can focus your attention on avoiding an accident when someone slips up.
8. Keep an Eye on your Speed
Speeding is the number one cause of driver-related crashed on the road. Posted speed limit signs are there for a reason, and going over them endangers everyone. There’s no point in trying to get there faster when you’re risking your life and the lives of everyone around you. Speeding tickets are also expensive, and getting too many of them may result in your driver’s license being revoked. That’s not worth the time saved by going faster.
9. Don’t Hold Grudges
Having road rage is a real mental issue that many drivers suffer from. The mistake of another person shouldn’t throw you into a blind rage where you start taking vindictive actions against them with your own vehicle. That’s a recipe for disaster that no one will walk away from, injury-free. It’s best to ignore people’s mistakes and move on. Don’t get frustrated, take a deep breath, even pull over to the side of the road if you need to to clear your head. Your frustration and aggravation are not worth putting other people in danger.
10. Do Not Drink and Drive
Alcohol is great for lightening the mood, but it’s not a good combination with driving. It impairs your judgment and makes you slower to react to the things around you. Alcohol also tends to lower your inhibitions towards risk-taking, so you’re more likely to make dangerous maneuvers than you would without alcohol in your system. And getting a DUI is no joke. It comes with a hefty fine and possible jail time; having several DUIs on your record also increases your chances of your license being revoked. Call a cab or get a friend to drive you home if you’re intoxicated to save yourself the trouble.
11. Weather Conditions
Posted speed limits are only for daytime when the weather conditions are clear; you should adjust your speed accordingly during the night, when there’s rain or fog, or if there are other factors leading to poor visibility. Rain and snow also make the roads more slick so it’s going to take longer for your car to come to a complete stop when you’ve applied the brakes. Exercise common sense and don’t always assume that the roads are safe to drive at the posted speed limit. Give yourself room to correct any mistakes that may occur to avoid an accident.
12. Be Considerate of Large Vehicles
Semis and tractor trailers on the highway should be given some leeway, as they don’t have as much visual range as car drivers. If you can’t see the driver in his rearview mirror, then it’s likely he can’t see you either. Give yourself a lot of room when you’re passing one or changing lanes in front of them, and always use your turn signal. They can’t stop as quickly as you can, given the weight of their vehicles, so it’s best not to cut them off in traffic.
13. Take Breaks
If you’re on a really long ride, your mind can start to go numb or worse, you start to get tired. If you find yourself yawning more than usual, don’t try and power through the drive to get to your destination. You’ll only get more tired as time passes and you could end up falling asleep at the wheel. Turning up the music on your radio or blasting your AC at the lowest temperature isn’t going to help either. You’re better off stopping on the side of the road to take a rest, or if you’re traveling with company, have them drive while you take a nap. You’ll much safer that way.
Practicing safe driving methods will soon become second nature that you don’t really have to think about them anymore. Always pay attention to the road and stay focused; don’t get distracted with other things going on in your car, whether it’s your phone or conversation with your passengers. The secret to driving safely isn’t really that much of a secret at all.
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