Stay Alive: Basic Skills to Be a Safer Driver

Today, traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death in most age groups. While the incidence of traffic accident deaths has gone down from what it was in the past, every traffic death is still a tragedy. Besides deaths, traffic accidents and unsafe driving practices contribute to thousands of injuries and millions of dollars in damages each year. Becoming a safe driver is one of the best ways that you can minimize your risk of injury, and you will also experience reduced costs in traffic tickets and insurance premiums by driving safely. Here are 10 ways to become a safer driver:

Always Wear Your Seatbelt

This is one of the simplest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of serious injury in the event of an accident. Even though it may not be the law in your state, you should always wear your seatbelt in any moving vehicle. Even if you are in the back seat, you are still much safer if you are wearing your seatbelt. As the driver, when you wear your seatbelt you are not only protecting yourself but you are helping to keep others safe as well because the seatbelt will help you to stay in control of the vehicle. You can also help keep others safe by insisting that everyone in the vehicle wear their seatbelts before you begin driving.

Stay Alert and Focused

Avoid driving when you are tired, drowsy, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. If you are driving when you are tired, you should take steps to help yourself wake up, or better yet, stop for a rest. Drinking coffee, driving with the window open, and snacking can help you to feel more alert, but if you are too tired, you shouldn’t even try these measures. Stop in a safe area for a nap and don’t drive again until you are feeling more refreshed.

You should also never drive under the influence of any mind-altering substance. If you drive while you are impaired, you risk causing a dangerous accident, and you could even kill yourself or an innocent bystander. If you have had problems with driving under the influence in the past, you should be especially vigilant and don’t assume that you will make wise choices once you have been drinking. Consider taking preventative measures. Taking DUI classes such as these online DUI classes in Arizona is one good step towards being a safer drinker.

Avoid Distractions

Avoid using your phone or other electronic devices while driving, as well as eating, drinking, or engaging in other distracting activities. Using your phone or doing other distracting things while driving can actually be as dangerous, or even more dangerous, than driving drunk. Many people who would never get behind the wheel while they are drunk continue to use their phones while driving. Instead, set up your hands-free system before you leave so that you won’t need to use your phone. If you don’t have a hands-free system, make sure that your phone is ready before you start driving so you won’t need to adjust navigation or text people while you are on the road. If you need to change something or get ahold of someone, pull off. 

Obey Traffic Laws

Follow posted speed limits, stop signs, and other traffic signals, and always use your turn signals when changing lanes or turning. Obeying traffic laws can help you stay safe, help other drivers to be safer around you, and will reduce the chance of having an expensive traffic ticket or jail time. Speed limits and traffic signals are put in place after research has been done on the traffic patterns and safety for the road, and based on things like the number of cars on the road, the amount of traffic turning onto and off of the road, and how curved or narrow the road is. These laws aren’t arbitrary and are created with a purpose.

Keep a Safe Following Distance

One important way to drive more safely is to leave plenty of space between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you, to allow for sudden stops or changes in traffic. Not only will you be able to drive more safely and potentially prevent accidents, but you will also reduce wear and tear on your car because of constant braking and acceleration. You can also save money on gas by driving more moderately. Finally, you may even help prevent traffic jams and congestion by leaving more room in front of your vehicle! 

Maintain Your Vehicle

Regularly check your brakes, tires, and other mechanical components to ensure that your vehicle is in good working order. One cause of traffic accidents is road hazards from unsafe vehicles. Unsafe vehicles are also a hazard to their driver. For example, unsafe, worn tires are more likely to blow out or skid on slick surfaces.

Adjust for Weather Conditions

Slow down and adjust your driving for rain, snow, ice, or other hazardous conditions. Anytime you cannot drive safely at the speed limit, you should slow down. Even if the people around you are going faster than you, you should only drive as fast as you are comfortable. If you don’t know how to drive in rain or snow, consider taking a defensive driving class. In many areas, you should have snow tires or snow chains available before winter, and know how to use them.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

One way to be a safer driver is by being more alert and aware of your surroundings. Keep an eye out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other vehicles, and always be prepared to respond to unexpected situations. Safe driving includes the ability to be prepared and ready to respond safely to any unexpected event, from a swerving car to an animal on the road. In order to respond effectively and quickly, you have to be skilled in spotting potential hazards as quickly as possible.

Practice Patience and Courtesy

When you are driving, you have to learn to stay calm and collected, even when other drivers are frustrating you. Be patient with other drivers and avoid aggressive or confrontational behavior, which can escalate dangerous situations. If you struggle in stressful situations, learn how to be more mindful and take steps to reduce your stress level when driving. For example, leave earlier so you won’t have to rush, avoid times of high traffic, or take alternate routes when available.

Final Thoughts

No matter how skilled you think you are, there are always things you can do to learn how to be a safer, better driver and reduce your risk of a dangerous accident. It’s important to be honest with ourselves when evaluating our driving habits so we can see the areas that we can improve and where we should make changes. We can all learn to be safer on the road, and making small changes can have big results.

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