Safe driving is not only important for you but also for other drivers you meet on the road. Driving safely should be the top concern of every driver. This article will outline 21 Safe Driving Tips every driver should follow to ensure safety on the road with the ultimate objective of saving lives.
Estimates from the National Safety Council of the United States place at about 40,000 the number of motor vehicle crash related deaths for 2016, a 6% increase from 2015 and the highest since 2007.
Advancements in technology have produced safer cars and equally safer roads. Fact remains though that human error is the cause of most car accidents. Safe driving practices are the best way to bring down the incidence of car accident related deaths.
Whether you are a new driver or have been driving for decades, reviewing some basic safety driving tips will ensure you and passengers will arrive home safe and sound.
1. Always Buckle Up
Fastening your seatbelt should be the first thing you need to do upon entering your car.
A lot of drivers and passengers have escaped death and serious injuries because they were buckled up.
Wear your seatbelt properly so that during a collision you will not spin around inside the car or be thrown out of the car through the windshield.
A lot of drivers and passengers would have lived, if only they wore their seatbelts.
2. Strictly Follow Traffic Signals
Even if you are in a hurry, never ignore traffic signals. Always stop at a red light and when it turns green, check for other cars and pedestrians beating the red light before proceeding. Respect the yellow light, too. It is intended to remind drivers to slow down and prepare for a complete stop.
A yellow light should be not seen as a signal to step on the gas and cross an intersection before the light turns red.
3. Keep your Eyes on the Road and your Hands on the Wheel
When behind the wheel, always focus on your driving and avoid multi-tasking. Never use your phone as it will keep your eyes off the road. When you are using your phone while driving, you may not be able to see a problem coming your way and may not be able to react properly.
It is not just teenagers who are guilty of this. Sometimes seasoned drivers become overconfident with their driving skills causing them to get sloppy.
4. Always be Patient
A lot of car accidents happen because drivers become impatient especially when they are running late. While everyone wants to quickly get to their destination, safety on the road is more important.
When you lose your patience and get into an accident, the more you will get delayed in reaching your destination. The trick is to leave early and give some allowance for any untoward incident that may happen on the road.
5. Keep the Kids Busy with Something
Unruly kids climbing all around the car, fighting and even crying can be a cause of distraction to the driver. You can lose your focus on the road when you have to constantly look at the backseat to call their attention.
When on the road with your kids, bring along some toys or gadgets to keep them busy and quiet so you can focus on your driving. Make sure to buckle them up, too. Small kids should be in safe and reliable car seats.
6. If You Drink, Don’t Drive
It is always worth repeating: If you drink, do not drive. If you drive, do not drink. If you are driving while intoxicated, your judgment gets impaired and your reflexes and reaction time slows down. A lot of car accidents that are fatal involve a driver you is under the influence of alcohol.
The law says that any driver with a 0.8 or higher blood alcohol level is considered to be alcohol-impaired. If you are caught, you can be fined, arrested, sentenced to jail and charge with Driving under the Influence (DUI).
If you are in a party and cannot avoid drinking, arrange for a lift home with a friend who is also not drinking, take the cab or bus or perhaps arrange to sleepover. Drunk driving is never worth the risk.
7. Avoid Driving Distractions
Eating is one of the most common distracted driving behaviors. Eating a sandwich or drinking a beverage can pose as a serious risk especially when driving on the highway.
While you are eating, you tend to have your eyes on your food instead of on the road. You will also tend to take your hands away from the steering wheel. More importantly while you are focusing on what you are eating you will tend to take your eyes away from the road and your mind away from your driving.
Imagine this scenario: you unwrap the packaging, put some condiments, hold the food with one hand, eat, use a napkin, and drink a beverage. You will be doing all that while driving. That is such a dangerous distraction because these actions pose a great risk to the driver, his passengers, fellow drivers and pedestrians.
Eating while you drive is not worth risking your life as well as the lives of others.
8. Practice Defensive Driving
It can take some time to get used to defensive driving. However, it is one of the most important safety on the road technique. You cannot control what the other drivers on the road are doing thus you need to always be in a position to react to any risky situations. Defensive driving is identifying a potential situation before it happens instead of reacting when it happens.
Practicing defensive driving makes you a cautious driver. Defensive driving techniques allow you to foresee dangerous situations and confront unforeseen situations. In doing so, you will be able to reduce or even prevent exposing yourself to possible danger while on the road.
9. Always be within the Defensive Driving Safe Following Distance Here
Drivers often tend to disobey the Defensive Driving Safe Following Distance Here. This distance is measured in time instead of in feet. The safe distance is judged based on the 3 second rule (minimum).
This is how it works: pick an object on the road, example a mailbox. As the car in front of you passes the mailbox, count three seconds before you pass the mailbox. That means you are within a safe distance from the car in front of you.
A safe following distance is more important than maintaining a safe speed. You could be running at 120 mph but as long as you are within a safe distance from the other vehicles, you will never bump anyone. This is a tip in defensive driving that can save your life.
When you are driving too close to the car in front of you, you will have less to react when he suddenly decides to turn or come to a complete stop. When you are on the expressway and are too far away from the vehicle in front of you, chances are you will be cut off.
10. Always be within the Speed Limit
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that in 2011, 30% of deadly car crashes was due to over speeding. When you are driving too fast, you will have less time to react to any situation around you. High speed collisions are always serious.
Minimum and maximum speed limits are designed for the safety of drivers. The funny thing is that most drivers are conscious of speed limits not because of their safety but rather to avoid getting caught.
When you drive at a lower speed, you can easily within a short distance. The stopping distance is measured from the time the driver steps on the brakes to the time the car comes to a complete stop. When driving at high speed a car has greater stopping distance. Driving at a lower speed a car can stop within a short distance.
When a crash occurs at lower speeds, consequences are less serious especially when pedestrians, motorcyclists and cyclists are involved. A pedestrian hit by a car cruising 30mph has a 90% chance of survival. If that same pedestrian was hit by a car running at 50mph, his survival chances drops to 50%.
11. You do not Own the Road
Reckless driving is often the cause of crashes. Reckless driving includes swerving, beating the red light, passing on the right, suddenly accelerating or breaking among other things.
If you move differently in traffic than other drivers, most likely you will cause an accident. This is an utter disrespect of other drivers. You are not the only driver and do not own the road. You need to graciously share the road and respect other drivers. It is sad to be involved in a car collision when you are driving safely while the other driver was driving recklessly.
Yielding the right of way is disrespect to the other driver and one of the major causes of car collisions. Beating the red light and ignoring stop signs. When the light turns green, drivers expect the intersection form the other direction is clear. That shows respect to other drivers and prevents accidents.
12. Spell S-T-O-P Then Go
When the traffic signal turns green, spell out to yourself S-T-O-P before stepping on the accelerator to proceed. Someone from the opposite direction may be beating the red light. A pedestrian might also still be crossing.
Additionally, look in all directions to see that the coast is clear for you to proceed.
13. Signal as You Decide to Make a Turn
Turn signals inform drivers around know when you are turning or switching lanes. Drivers who do not use their turn signals when turning or shifting lanes often become the cause of an accident. Using your turn signal will give other drivers time to react to what you are planning to do.
When you decide to make a turn, use your signal and look for an open space where you can make a turn. It is wrong to first look for a space to turn and then signal. Using your signal will give other drivers time to notice what you are doing and may even open a space for you to turn.
14. Be More Cautious in Poor Driving Conditions
Tailor-fit your driving when driving at night and when driving in poor visibility and bad weather. You should be more conscious than ever. You should drive slower than the normal speed limit and keep your distance from the car in front of you. The danger in driving in poor weather conditions (heavy rain, ice, fog, snow…) is your visibility of the road is affected.
Your undivided attention is extremely important when driving under extreme weather conditions especially when you are having poor visibility.
When driving during in heavy rains, anticipate gusts, be wary of large vehicles as they often have difficulty staying in their lanes and always have a firm grip of the wheel. Turn on your lights too so you have more visibility of the road and also so the other cars can see you. Drive at a lower speed, too.
Most drivers consider fog as the most dangerous weather condition. If you need to drive during a foggy weather, have your low-beam headlights on and drive at a lower speed. If the fog is too thick and you have extremely low visibility of the road, completely pull off the road.
Of course the safest thing to do is avoid driving when weather conditions are too dangerous to drive. It could perhaps be better to stay home, it if is possible. And yes, too much glare from the sun can also give you poor road visibility.
15. Always Use the Mirrors and Know your Blind Spots
When driving you should not only focus on the cars and road in front of you. You should be also conscious of the cars on your sides and those behind you. Always check your rear view and side mirrors.
Additionally, all cars, have blind spots. A blind spot is that area where you cannot easily see from the driver’s seat. Another car changing lanes can be in your blind spot and you will not be able to see what he is doing.
On the average, a car can have 2 blind spots. To avoid blind spots, properly adjust your side view mirrors making sure you have the widest view on the driver side as well as the passenger sides of your car.
You can also have a blind spot mirror installed. A blind spot mirror curves outward thus improving your visibility. Anything you view from a blind spot mirror appears smaller than what it is actually is, though.
To maximize the use of your rear view mirror, avoid hanging any objects on it.
16.Know How to Drive in the Middle Lane
It is simple to drive in a two lane highway. Drive on the right lane and pass on the left lane. When volume of traffic is high, you need to be in the lane that fits your cruising speed. If that is the left lane, you need to move to the right lane when faster traffic comes from your rare so you can let them pass.
When on a three lane highway, the right lane is the safest and simplest for slow vehicles and the right lane is for the fastest moving traffic.
If you are cruising at high speed and approaching a slow vehicle, you should not pass them from the right lane. You need to wait until the slower moving vehicle shifts to his proper lane. A lot of highway accidents occur when the faster vehicle passes on the right while the slower vehicle is changing lane (simultaneously).
17. Be Extra Cautious when Driving Around Trucks
Big rucks always pose as a hazard on the road because their drivers have no full view of other vehicles much less other drivers. Avoid driving too close to a truck. Give them the extra space through the six second rule (you should be passing a fix object on the road six seconds after the truck has passed the same object).
If you have to overtake a truck, be extremely cautious. Remember, because of its size, getting into an accident with a truck will leave you and your car with the most risk.
18. When Drowsy, Pull Over
If you are groggy, never ever think that you can fight it. You will never get any warning that you are going to fall asleep because you will simply just do. Moving from being drowsy to slipping into a sound sleep happens without any warning. Even just a few seconds of sleep can be extremely dangerous while you are driving.
If you are driving with a friend and you are feeling groggy or drowsy, have him take over the wheel. If you are driving alone, pull over or find a place where you can rest for a while. Remember, you need to be 100% alert when driving.
If you are having a long drive, make sure to have a good sleep before the trip, Take frequent stops too for coffee or a snack or to get some fresh air. For extremely long driving trips, share the driving task with another driver.
19. Keep an Eye on the Other Guy
You should not only be conscious of how you drive. You should also be conscious of how other drivers do. You may be cruising at the right speed limit, keeping to your proper lane and observing all traffic rules. That does not mean though that you are very sure not to get into a collision. Another driver doing the exact opposite as what you are doing can hit you from nowhere.
A lot of drivers say that when on the road, assume that the other drivers are idiots. This can be rude but it will allow you to be well prepared for sudden stops of the car in front of you, last minute lane chances of another driver, turning without any signal, tailgating, swerving and any other ridiculous driving behavior.
It is not unusual to meet these type of drivers on the road. You can get pissed off with them but you need to stay safe and be prepared to deal with the situation.
20. Patience is Always a Virtue
Either you are in the middle of a traffic jam or dealing with a rude behavior of another driver, it always pays to be calm at all times while driving. Yes, it can be frustrating to be in such a situation but getting upset or angry yourself may cause you to be distracted and do something outrageous as well.
When in such a situation, avoid further aggravating other drivers. Continuously beeping your horn, flashing your headlights, or making uncalled for hand gestures can distract and infuriate other drivers and may cause an accident or a heated argument. It will work to your benefit if you stay calm and give way to the other driver. The sooner you get them out of your way the better it is for you.
21. Keep your Vehicle in Top Shape
There are two main reasons why there is an important need for a well-maintained vehicle: to ensure its long life and more importantly so it is safe to drive. A maintenance issue such as not having the right tire pressure can lead your car to a crash. You also need to once in a while rotate your tires for even wear and tear and to ensure consistent performance.
Your car’s brakes should also be regularly checked. When you notice something abnormal in your breaks such as “softnes,” better have it check at once because your breaks may be wearing out and may not bite when you step on it. That could be extremely dangerous.
Driving a car is one of the most difficult task you can do. A miscue or a miscalculation can cause your life, the life of your passengers and other motorists, too. When behind the wheel, you need to stay focus and give your driving 100% attention and concentration. For sure you are already aware of most of the 21 safe driving tips mentioned above. A little reinforcement would not hurt, would they?
Are there any other safety driving tips you would like to write? Share them with us in the comments section. Your tip may just save a life.