Safe Driving Tips
Safe driving is the responsibility of everyone who gets behind the wheel. Because they are large, heavy, and powerful, cars can be very dangerous when not driven carefully. While taking a defensive driving class is one way to improve your safe driving skills, there are many simple things that you can do on an everyday basis to reduce the risk of an accident.
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, or NHTSA, driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near crashes. Some common distractions are:
- Cell phones. If you can, turn it off. Avoid talking while driving. In some jurisdictions cell phone use in a moving vehicle is now illegal. If you must use your cell phone, find a safe place to pull over and stop. At the very least, consider using a hands-free device.
- Other electronic devices. DVD players, PDAs, laptops, electronic games, and other devices require attention that needs to be focused on driving safely. They should not be used by the driver.
- Car stereos. Try to avoid changing channels or CDs while driving. Make your selections and set the volume to a reasonable level before driving. Loud music is a distraction, and it can also prevent you from hearing important sounds like emergency vehicle sirens, or squealing tires. Personal music players also fit in this category, and earphones can prevent you from hearing sounds that might warn you of dangerous situations.
- Food and drinks. Don't eat in a moving vehicle. Hot beverages can be dangerous if spilled, for obvious reasons.
- Passengers. While conversations with passengers are certainly acceptable, remember that safe driving is still your responsibility. Pay attention to traffic and the conditions around you. Keep your eyes on the road.
2 - Don't Drive Impaired or Drowsy
We are all aware of the risks and the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Just one drink may be enough to affect your judgment. Prescription drugs may also compromise your ability to drive safely. When in doubt, don't get behind the wheel. If you feel tired while driving, pull off the road and rest.
3 - Make Sure Your Car is in Good Condition
In particular, make it a habit to check tires and brakes regularly, and be sure that all lights and signals are operating properly.
4 - Allow Plenty of Following Distance
A minimum of two seconds of time should pass from the time the car ahead of you passes a stationary object until the time you pass the same point. Allow even more time at freeway speeds, at night, or in wet or snowy weather.
5 - Wear Your Seatbelt
In many places, it's the law. Seatbelts save lives. Insist that your passengers wear theirs, too.
6 - Obey the Laws
Pay attention to speed limits, traffic signs, and traffic signals. Remember, driver inattention is a leading cause in most accidents.
7 - Leave Early
If you must be somewhere by a specific time, plan to leave a little earlier than necessary, to allow for changing traffic or weather conditions. This will help insure you arrive on schedule.
Most of these tips are common sense, and can easily be applied by any driver. Remember that as a driver you have a responsibility to be aware of your surroundings and to operate your vehicle in a safe manner. As you drive, keep your eyes on the road, your hands on the wheel, and be ready to react to the changing conditions around you.