Every time you enter your car and sit behind the wheel, you play a game of Russian roulette. Some of us never think of it that way, but that’s the way it is. It might be the day that the brakes of your car don’t work properly as you approach an intersection. Or the weather is so bad that it greatly reduces visibility. Or it might be the day that you encounter that one person who is driving carelessly.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, there were 34,247 motor vehicle accidents that were fatal. From these crashes, 37,133 people died. Those are chilling facts. But the truth of the matter is most people don’t really think about the effects of a car accident until it happens to them.
Research shows that 90% of the accidents that happen on U.S. roads are partly caused by human error. Think about it. That means that a good number of the motor vehicle crashes could have been avoided if the drivers had acted differently.
Below are 10 crucial ways that can help you become a better driver and hopefully keep you and your family safer.
Always Wear A Seatbelt While Driving
If you are in a car that is involved in an accident and you happen to not be wearing your seatbelt, there are high chances that you can be thrown from the car. This can lead to death, paralysis or even disfigurement. Buckling up takes less than 10 seconds. But it’s 10 seconds that could save your life.
Don’t Get Distracted While Driving
Did you know that it only takes 3 seconds of distraction to cause a crash or a near-crash? Texting is one of the main distractions, but it isn’t the only one. If you have to take or make a call while driving, it’s advisable that you pull over and get it over and done with then do it will driving go hands-free. Install a car speaker or use a Bluetooth headset. Don’t take your eyes off the road to adjust your radio. If your children are crying or causing a ruckus in the backseat, pull over and deal with it.
One Hand Should Always Be On The Steering Wheel
The 9 and 3’o’clock position is the new recommended hand placement on the steering wheel. Learn more about this here. Choosing to do an activity that requires your hands while driving is very dangerous. If it is something that you must do, then try and keep one hand on the wheel to steer the car. This ensures that you maintain some control over your vehicle. Otherwise, you can veer into another lane and cause an accident if you encounter something unexpected while both your hands are off the wheel.
Regularly Maintain Your Car
Take care of your vehicle like it was your own body. Schedule regular car checkups with your mechanic. Change the oil regularly and keep the tires well inflated. Change them when they start to show signs of wear and tear. Old tires have a high chance of blowing out at any moment; they are an accident waiting to happen. Any strange noises should be checked out as soon as possible.
Drive At Night Only When You Have To
Driving at night is risky because your visibility is greatly reduced. Furthermore, your ability to detect and avoid potential dangers on the road decreases sharply at night. More importantly, drunk drivers seem to frequent the road at night more than during the day, and they may not exactly be alert while driving. If you must drive at night, take it slow and stay hyper-vigilant; notice everything that is going on around you.
Do Not Drive While Impaired
Many may take this to mean do not drink and drive. Without a question, this is a big no-no. But you should also not drive while drowsy, be it from lack of sleep or medication that is hindering your faculties. Impairment can also refer to your vision. Get regular eye checkups.
Road Rage Is Never The Solution
Try and stay calm while driving. A little courtesy goes a long way but some drivers do not treat their counterparts with respect. You may find a driver who speeds up and tries to cut you off as you’re driving. Don’t respond with anger. This can be a distraction and cause you to lose focus. Try and get as far away from such people as possible. Let them pass you. If you find yourself getting upset and tense, it is better for you to pull over and calm down before you continue with your journey.
Stay Aware of Your Blind Spots
Examples of a driver’s blind spots are in the rear view mirrors, windshield pillars, and intersections. Check your mirrors and ensure that they are in their right positions. When backing out of a parking space, you can turn around to make sure that a vehicle is not in your blind spot. When you’re at an intersection, look both ways before proceeding. Don’t stay in the blind spots of semi-trucks for too long without letting them know that you’re behind them.
Stick To The Speed Limit
The speed limit is not just a suggestion. It can actually save your life. If you are going way beyond the speed limit and for some reason, you have to brake suddenly, you risk overturning your car. Even worse, you can crash into the car that is in front of you if it doesn’t pick up the pace as you slow down. The speed limit is assigned to different areas so that it easy for drivers to stop quickly if they have to.
Be A Defensive Driver
Never make the assumption that the driver in front of you or behind you is going to follow the traffic rules as you do. Being a defensive driver simply means that you foresee possible issues on the road and you take steps to ensure that no harm comes your way. For example, count to three and look both ways before entering an intersection when the light turns green. Make sure you can see a semi-truck’s right-hand side mirror; if you can see it, then the chances are high that the driver can see you. Change lanes cautiously.
There is so much more that can be said about tips to follow to stay safer while driving. But for now, these 10 will have to do. Above all else, never lose your focus as a driver. It can be the split-second difference between a fatal accident and a near miss.