For roads to remain safe, there are essential driving habits to ensure responsible driving. The United States loses approximately 33,000 lives to motor vehicle accidents every year. Motor vehicle crashes also leave more than 6,300 people injured daily. It is important to note that human error is the leading cause of most crashes, and all drivers can avoid these crashes through safe driving. Simple mistakes like lack of focus and inadequate surveillance can cause severe injuries and even death. The police department offers a guide to safe driving as a way to save lives. With the following safe driving tips, we can save lives and keep our roads safe.
Do not drink and drive
Choosing to drive when you are drunk is a bad choice that endangers your life. There are more than 10,000 people who perish every year due to drunk driving. When a person is under the influence of any drug, including alcohol, they are not fully sober and mentally capable of maintaining the utmost focus required to drive safely. For this reason, if you are drunk or have consumed more than one drink per hour, make plans to get home without driving yourself. Driving under the influence, commonly known as DUI, has severe consequences, including losing your driver’s license and expenses that can exceed $10,000, even for first-time offenders.
Avoid distractions when driving
There are approximately nine American lives lost every day from accidents caused by distracted driving. Every year, distracted driving causes 424,000 injuries and about 3,100 deaths. This is 16% of all motor vehicle accidents in the country. Distractions are mainly phone distractions such as texting or chatting while on the wheel. Also, avoid eating or smoking when driving and engaging in conversations that could lead to distraction.
Avoid over speeding
Among the deadliest motor vehicle crashes, 28% are caused by speeding, making it the leading cause of fatal motor accidents. With every mile per hour you drive over the speed limit, you increase the risk of crashing your vehicle. Drive safely by obeying the set speed limits. When driving, consider inclement weather, construction, and other factors as a reason to control your speed for safety.
Fasten your Seat Belt
Seat belts have indeed saved a lot of lives. When you are involved in an accident, and your safety belt is on, it restrains you and protects you from being thrown out of your vehicle. You are also safe from hitting surfaces such as the dashboard or ending up as a projectile. Whenever you get into your vehicle, make it a habit to wear your seat belt first. You must require that any passenger in your vehicle wear seat belts. Wearing the seat belt as intended is vital to ensuring your safety.
Drive without running red lights
Approximately 900 people die annually from accidents associated with running red lights. Most of the victims are passengers and pedestrians since such accidents mainly involved hitting the broadside. The broadside of a vehicle is close to the passenger. Ensure that you keenly observe traffic signs and drive through intersections carefully. Avoid outrunning yellow lights and always be ready to slow down and stop. It is also advisable to stop a bit before proceeding to an intersection since vehicles may be driving through, and it may cause a collision. Look right and left and when it’s safe and clear, proceed.
Tailgating is driving too closely behind another vehicle. A good rule of thumb is if you can’t see the tires of the car in front of you, then you are driving too close. This is a dangerous habit that can drastically increase the risk of collisions and potential injuries. When you tailgate and the driver in front of you stops abruptly, the chances of hitting them are very high. This is because you will not have enough time and space to slow down. For safety, leave at least two seconds of drive time between your car and the car in front of you.
Don’t drive aggressively
Aggressive driving entails switching lanes randomly repeatedly, cutting other drivers off, and not yielding the right way. This kind of driving can make a driver angry even when they are the victims of another driver behaving that way. This can lead to a dangerous crash. Ensure that you remain calm on the road and even move away from aggressive drivers on the road.
Take note of pedestrians and cyclists
Pedestrians don’t stand a chance against a driver and their car. There was an average of 21 pedestrian fatalities every day in the United States in 2018. Drivers need to be careful and watch out for pedestrians and avoid colliding with them since pedestrians are much safer than drivers. In looking out for pedestrians, follow traffic signs, and avoid distractions as a way to ensure you do not collide with pedestrians. Ensure that you always adhere to speed limits and give way to pedestrians. When you avoid driving when drunk, you also reduce the risk of colliding with pedestrians.
Be careful when driving in school zones
When driving in a school zone, you need to lower your speed even more. School zones have lower speed limits because children may not be as cautious on roadways as adults. When you are in a school zone, it is your responsibility as a driver and an adult to watch out or slow down for children’s safety. Avoid distractions as much as you can when driving in school zones.
Safe driving tips
- As you approach your vehicle, check to ensure that nobody is hiding inside. Also, have your keys ready as you approach your vehicle.
- It is advisable to drive on safe streets and avoid picking up strangers along the way. This is for your safety.
- When you stop at an intersection, ensure your car is in gear.
- Maintain the doors and windows of your vehicle closed as you drive.
- Ensure that you only park your vehicle in safe, well-lighted designated parking.
- When you need to carry valuables with you in your vehicle, keep them safe and out of sight in the vehicle.
- Always carry an aerosol tire inflator with you in case of an emergency.
- When you experience a car break down, raise the hood and remain inside the vehicle with locked doors and windows. This is a tricky situation, and you need to be cautious, especially when someone stops and offers you help. Avoid opening your car window or doors and ask the person to call for help.
- When driving and you happen to see a parked vehicle in need of help, do not stop but find a way to call for assistance.
- When anyone deliberately stops your car, roll up the windows and lock your doors. You can sound the horn to ask for help.
- If a vehicle follows you or is harassed by someone in another vehicle, drive to the nearest police station, open business or fire department, and request help. In such a situation, avoid driving into your driveway or a deserted area.
- In case you notice a vehicle following you as you are entering your home driveway, remain in your car, lock all doors, roll-up all windows, and sound your horn desperately for help. The horn will help you get your neighbors’ attention and probably scare the people following you away.
Safe parking tips
- When you leave and return to your parked vehicle, it is advisable to look around the area in case is something unusual.
- After parking, ensure you lock all doors, roll up all windows and remove the keys before you leave.
- In your home parking, always ensure you lock all doors of your car and also the garage door.
- If you leave your vehicle stored outside your house, leave the exterior lights on all night.
- When parking on the street, choose a parking space that is well lit to ensure your vehicle is in a visible open space.
- Get a car alarm for your vehicle.
Tips for Preventing auto theft
- Most of the auto theft cases happen during the night. More than two-thirds.
- In 2002 alone, more than 8,000 vehicles were stolen in Seattle.
- Stolen vehicles that were recovered are nearly 86%.
- The recovered vehicles had missing parts worth $5800.
- A vehicle can be stolen in less than a minute. This is actually true for expert auto thieves as they can easily use a screwdriver to break into the vehicle and drive off.
How thieves get attracted to your vehicle
- When your vehicle is left unlocked with open windows.
- When your vehicle is left unattended.
- When you park your vehicle in an area that is not visible and well lit.
- Leaving valuable things openly in your car.
- When your vehicle lacks anti-theft devices, thus making it unprotected.
How to protect your vehicle
- Install an anti-theft device in your vehicle.
- If possible, park your vehicle safely in a garage.
- Ensure you report suspicious activity immediately.
When you are a defensive driver, you can implement the safety measures to ensure you remain safe. Safety measures also help to ensure that other road users are safe. As a driver, you should understand clearly that not all drivers mind their safety and that of others. Others drive around, unaware that they are risking their lives and the lives of other road users.
Police department caution careless drivers who speed and those who switch lanes without paying utmost attention. Also, take note of drivers who follow other vehicles so closely, making sudden turns without giving signals—even those who use unlawful ways to evade traffic abuse road safety.
When a driver is aggressive on the road, the person is a threat on the road. Aggressive drivers cause one-third of all road crashes witnessed on our roads every year. There is also a growing concern about the rise of accidents caused by distracted drivers or those who do not pay full attention when driving. Many drivers have adapted to distracted driving habits such as texting when driving, receiving calls, and eating.
It is essential to understand that when you break safety guidelines, your life is in danger. It is not easy to control the actions of every driver on the road. However, we are all called upon to be responsible drivers. When we agree to be guided by integrity and adhere to the set guidelines while updating our defensive driving techniques, our roads will be safer.
How to be in control as a driver
As a driver, you need to be in control of your own safety and that of others.
Driving entails a lot of thinking. Your mind is loaded with road signs, traffic lights and laws, the condition of the roads, weather, and speed, and so on. You are also expected to be keen throughout as you check out for pedestrians, other drivers, side mirrors, and more.
It is important to make sure that you stay focused when driving and avoid any distractions. Do not use your phone or eat when driving since your mind needs to focus. Distractions will lower your ability to see any incoming problem and to respond appropriately. Do not be overconfident on the road since experienced drivers also crash and die. Whether you have been driving for years or not, let your driving focus always be the same.
Being alert will help you identify a possible problem and respond with accuracy. You cannot be alert when under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Some road issues require a speedy response making it critical to remain alert at all times. When you are unwell and taking medication, ensure not to get behind the wheel if your medication makes you nauseous or sleepy. You can also lose concentration when you are tired or stressed out. Crashes caused by fatigued or stressed drivers account for many fatalities.
Be mindful of other road users
It may not be possible to control every driver on the road. However, personal responsibility not only protects you but others too. Looking out for other drivers and road users is a way of being in control as a driver. Be cautious of what these people may suddenly act so that you know how to respond.
For instance, when a vehicle is overtaking behind you and a heavy truck is oncoming right in front of it, you can be sure that the overtaking vehicle’s driver will consider driving through in front of you for safety. To avoid more confusion and panic for the overtaking vehicle, be keen to notice this and allow space safely for the drive to drive in front of you. As you give way, take note of the driver behind you as well. Being mindful and making adjustments for others is a way of ensuring road safety.
Young drivers’ safety guide
Most young drivers lack experience in a lot of things on the road. A driving course may not equip you with everything you need to ensure safe defensive driving. Errors in driving cause 90% of all accidents in America. This is according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. As young people, lack of experience could mean a lot of avoidable errors. By following simple defensive driving tips, you can reduce the risk of an accident.
Focus on ensuring safety
Driving excites many young people, and excitement could lead to aggressiveness, anxiety, or more. Before you hit the road, let the focus be the main priority in your mind as a young person. When you focus on being safe techniques, driving defensively, and making proper driving decisions come easy. While driving, you are already aware of several ethical behavior and rules that should be followed. Ensure you do your part well.
When driving, be keen, and analyze situations around 20 seconds before you respond. Check your mirrors as often as possible and the road signs too. If you notice aggressive drivers, slow down or pull over. Avoid aggressive and reckless drivers as much as you can as it will affect your driving. Should you feel that a driver near you is endangering your life, you are allowed to get off the road and let them go way ahead to keep safe. It’s best practice to scan ahead on the road as there is always the potential for danger. Pets, cyclists, pedestrians, and disabled or emergency vehicles along the road are a few examples of common threats you can watch for to ensure your safety and theirs.
Avoid depending on other drivers
You may be focused on ensuring safety. However, you can never be sure about the other person. Even as you look out for others on the road, look out for yourself more. Never assume that a driver will take care of your safety. Have it in your mind that a driver can easily drive past stop signs or run through red lights and be ready to respond. As a driver, you should always plan your moves expecting the worst.
Use the 3- to 4-second rule
Most collisions happen in front of you as the driver. The 3 to 4-second rule enables you to identify danger and maintain a safe distance behind. This gives you adequate space and time to act if necessary. You can maintain a bigger distance if the weather is bad or at night, keeping in mind that safety is essential.
Drive at moderate speed
Drive using responsible speed depending on the right conditions. Speed limits are put in place depending on different conditions. As a young driver, it is advisable to avoid high speeding. Speeding makes it hard for you to control the vehicle in case of an emergency or distraction.
Identify risks and a way out
Be alert enough when driving to tell when a situation is endangering your life. If you are faced with multiple risks on the road, plan quickly to handle each of the issues at a time. It is best to drive in a path where you can have a good view of the road and be seen clearly. Be aware of alternate paths whenever possible. All this offers you a quick escape route in case of an emergency.
Driving is a dangerous daily activity for most of us, and the rules on the road do not guarantee safety. Road safety is a personal responsibility for all drivers.