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Driving is an essential part of our day-to-day life, whether commuting to work or driving our kids to school, and it is important to ensure that we always stay safe on the road. As responsible drivers, we should follow the rules of the road and practice safe driving habits. In this article, we look at how to drive safely with eight essential safety tips that everyone should know and follow.
1. Wear your seat belt
Wearing a seat belt is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself safe while driving. In the event of an accident, a seat belt can greatly reduce your risk of serious injury or death, and it can help protect you from other dangerous drivers on the road.
According to the OSEA, seatbelts save more than 15,000 lives each year. If you’re wearing a seat belt, you’re less likely to be thrown from a car during an accident. During an accident, you have a much higher chance of survival if you stay in the car than if you are thrown from it.
Another benefit of seat belts is, on top of keeping you safe inside your car, they also protect your brain and spinal cord, and we all know that injuries to those parts of our bodies can be deadly.
As well as making sure you fasten your seatbelt before you drive off, it’s also important to check that your passengers are wearing seat belts and properly fastened. And if you have children in the car, always use seats appropriate for their age and size.
2. Stay focused and alert
When you’re behind your car’s wheel, you must always remain focused and alert. If you are distracted, you can miss hazards on the road, and your driving abilities may be impaired. Here are some do’s and don’t for staying focused and alert:
- Make sure you are well-rested, especially before a long drive. If you start to feel sleepy, take a break and have a nap before continuing your journey.
- Avoid eating, drinking, or applying makeup behind the wheel. Any of these activities can lead to impaired driving ability and will take your attention off the road.
- Never use your cell phone while driving. If you need to answer a message or make a call, it’s always safest to pull over to the side of the road before using your cell phone.
- Keep your car’s temperature cool. This will reduce the risk of getting sleepy and help keep you more alert.
- On long journeys, take regular breaks to walk around and stretch your legs.
3. Practice defensive driving
Defensive driving is all about anticipating potential hazards on the road and taking steps to avoid them. Some defensive driving tips include:
- Always be aware of other drivers and try to anticipate what they are going to do next.
- Keep a safe distance from other vehicles, and be prepared to react quickly if necessary.
- Avoid aggressive drivers and give them even more space than regular drivers.
- Keep an eye out for potential hazards around your vehicle, like pedestrians or animals who could step into the road.
- Stay alert and avoid unnecessary distractions while driving.
If you want to hone your defensive driving skills further, you can take a specialist defensive driver or safe driver course.
4. Don’t drink and drive
Drinking and driving is one of the main causes of road accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in the USA, about 32 people die every day due to drunk driving. In fact, in 2020, more than 11,650 people died due to drunk driving.
Drunk driving is so dangerous because it impairs your judgment, coordination, reaction time, and self-control – all essential for safe driving.
So, never drink and drive, and if you plan on consuming any alcohol on a night out, always have a designated driver or an alternative means of transport to get you home. If you think one of your friends has had too much to drink, you should also prevent them from drunk driving by taking their car keys and calling them a taxi or Uber when it’s time to go home.
5. Avoid speeding
Speeding is a major cause of accidents on the road for several reasons. If you are going over the speed limit, the likelihood of a crash increases as you are more likely to lose control of your vehicle, and if you do have a crash, it will be more serious at higher speeds.
In 2020, according to the NHTSA, almost as many people died from speeding as they did from drunk driving, and in fact, almost a third of road deaths in the US have speeding as a contributing factor.
So to be a safer driver, always obey the posted speed limit, and adjust your speed according to the weather and road conditions. Remember, it is better to arrive at your destination a few minutes late than to not arrive at all.
Sharing the road with other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians is essential for safe driving. When driving behind another vehicle, always maintain a safe distance and definitely avoid tailgating.
Keeping a safe braking distance between you and the car ahead can help prevent a car accident if they have to stop suddenly. Remember that a big vehicle like a large truck or semi will require a longer safe following distance than a regular car, as they take longer to stop.
You should also be aware of other types of road users, like cyclists, motorbike drivers, and pedestrians, and always respect their space. Be especially aware of pedestrians at junctions and crosswalks. And remember to be patient and courteous, and never engage in aggressive or reckless driving behavior.
7. Maintain your car
Regular car maintenance is another important factor for safe driving for yourself and other road users. Always make sure your car is well looked after and in good working condition.
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Check your brakes, tires, and lights regularly, and address any issues promptly. Poorly maintained brakes and tires can increase your stopping distance, which can lead to accidents. And broken lights can lead to confusion for other drivers as you are less visible or you are unable to signal your intention to turn or stop.
If you need to replace worn-out tires, or buy tires more suited for your driving conditions, check out GoTires, where we have top tire brands at the lowest prices, with free FedEx shipping included. Keep your family safe on the road today with a set of new, high-quality tires.
8. Drive extra carefully in bad weather
Bad weather conditions such as rain, snow, or fog can make driving more difficult and dangerous. Did you know that the first 10 minutes after fresh rain or snow are the riskiest? This is because the road is especially slick and slippery as the water mixes with oil and other road debris, which can lead to accidents.
So if you are driving in winter or navigating through heavy rain, reducing your speed and increasing your following distance is important. You should also remember to use your headlights and windshield wipers as necessary, even during daylight hours, if visibility is reduced due to weather conditions.
Another factor to be aware of regarding weather conditions is to ensure you are using the correct tires for the climate. For example, summer tires, which grip the road really well in warm and hot conditions, can be lethal in very cold and wintery weather, as the special rubber compound hardens. Using special winter snow or ice tires instead in these conditions can increase traction and reduce the chances of you skidding and getting into an accident.
How to be a safe driver
So as you can see, there are many factors that contribute to how to be safe when driving. If you follow all our rules for safe driving, from looking after your vehicle to staying alert and making sure you’re paying attention to other road users, you can increase your safety on the roads.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the 4 steps to safe driving?
The four steps to safe driving are: staying focused and alert, practicing defensive driving, obeying traffic laws, and maintaining your vehicle.
- If you are focused, alert, and aware of your surroundings, you are much more likely to react safely and appropriately if you encounter any driving hazards on the road.
- Being a defensive driver, you avoid all the risks of aggressive driving by paying attention to your surroundings, being wary of aggressive drivers, keeping space between you and other road users, and always having an “escape route”.
- Obeying traffic laws is another way to stay safe on the road. These laws are implemented to reduce the risk of car accidents and keep all road users safe. Be aware of your state and location’s speed limits and other relevant laws.
- Make sure your car is in a safe and roadworthy condition, as that will reduce your risk when you drive. This includes keeping your tires, brakes, and lights in good working order.
How can I drive my car more safely?
You can drive your car more safely by following safety tips, such as always wearing your seatbelt, staying focused and alert, practicing defensive driving, and maintaining your vehicle. Following these driving safety tips whenever you are behind the wheel, you will likely have a safe and pleasant experience on the road.
What is the #1 driving distraction?
The #1 driving distraction is using a cell phone while driving. According to the NHTSA, sending or reading messages on your cellphone is the most dangerous distracted driving habit on the roads today. Using cell phones while behind the wheel is illegal in many countries and can greatly increase the risk of accidents on the road. If you must use your phone, always make sure you have a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road before looking at your device.
What is the #1 cause of road rage?
The #1 cause of road rage is aggressive driving behavior, such as cutting off other drivers, tailgating, and using obscene gestures or language. To avoid being a victim of road rage and to stay safe on the roads, you should avoid any aggressive behaviors and always stay calm and respectful on the road. And if you encounter someone who has aggressive behaviors, avoid conflict by remaining calm and attempting to diffuse the situation.