The rules of the road don’t waver, but that doesn’t mean you still can’t learn a thing or two about how to be a better driver. For most of us, driving school and DMV handbooks are long behind us, but there are still some tips that we can use to keep us and our loved ones safer on the road. These 10 driving tips could save your life, so read carefully and pass them along to your friends and family, too. You never know when you might need them.
1. Road Signs Aren’t As Important as Traffic
Although you were taught to navigate based on the signs, when you’re driving, it’s more important to focus on traffic. The flow of it, as well as the direction of other drivers, will serve far more valuable to you than a sign on the side of the road, especially if no one else is abiding by it.
2. A Bluetooth Doesn’t Make Driving Safer
Although we think that wearing a Bluetooth means it’s okay to talk and drive, multiple studies over the years have revealed that there’s no difference in safety risk between handheld and hands-free devices. If you’re driving, it’s best to avoid the distraction altogether. The benchmark study by the University of Utah in 2006 had one of the most shocking revelations of all; out of 41 adults, those driving while under the influence were actually less dangerous to other drivers than those talking on a phone or Bluetooth.
3. You Should Adjust Your Side Mirrors Frequently
That blind spot everyone talks about isn’t able to be eradicated by moving your side mirrors before you actually start to drive. You should make sure that they aren’t showing the side of your car but instead provide as large of a portion of the road and traffic behind you as possible. This can be done at red lights and any other stops when you’re able to do so undistracted.
4. Don’t Hit the Breaks When You Lose Traction
It’s a gut reaction to slam our foot down on the brakes when we lose control of our vehicles, but this can actually cause a major accident. If your car has lost traction, grip the wheel firmly and take your foot off the gas so that the vehicle can gradually lose speed. If you’re moving downhill, you can steer around any obstacles but the car will lose speed faster and you’ll be able to control it again much more safety.
5. Keep Both Hands on the Wheel
It may be because you’re holding your morning coffee or out of pure habit, but driving with one hand actually decreases your reaction time and puts you at a greater risk of being in an accident.
6. Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
These courses are designed to teach drivers how to maneuver their cars in a variety of tough situations, as well as provide general techniques that can keep them more efficient and safer on the road. Extensive research into the statistics behind motor vehicular accidents shapes the curriculum of defensive driving courses and maximizes their impact on the student.
7. Use Headlights Even During the Day
Keeping your headlights on, especially in wintery or stormy conditions, increases your visibility to other vehicles as well as helps you see better, reducing the risk of an accident.
8. Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Many people forget to put theirs on or just don’t think it’s necessary if they live in a rural area or are taking a short drive, but you should always put your seatbelt on as soon as you enter your car and make sure any passengers are wearing theirs, too. Car accidents can also happen in nature, whether it’s from a pothole, blown out tire or animal darting across the road. A seatbelt doesn’t just lower your risk of severe injury, but in many cases has made the difference between life and death.
9. Always Keep an Emergency Kit in the Car
Your vehicle should have a portable kit under one of the front or back seats that contains a windshield scraper, flashlight, car cell phone charger, a snack, bottled water and a blanket.
10. Alway Maintain a 4-Second Distract Between Other Cars
Even if traffic is moving fast, you shouldn’t tailgate anyone. Keeping a 4-second distance between the front of your car and back of another’s minimizes the likelihood of rear ending them should they stop abruptly. It doesn’t sound like much, but those four seconds will give you enough time to hit the breaks or adjust your path should traffic come to an unexpected halt.
There are many ways that we can stay safer on the road. While precautionary measures before starting our engines help, the best tips involve staying vigilant behind the wheel. This comes from minimizing distractions such as Bluetooths, cell phones and loud music, as well as being aware of our position on the road, following traffic cues and knowing how to respond in an emergency accident. While most driving tips seem small, they all come together to create a safe driver mindset that may just one day save your life.