Whether you’re a newbie or you’ve been on the road for a couple of decades, you’re never too old or experienced to practice safe driving. We’ve put together some driving safety suggestions to help keep you and your loved ones safe in the car.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
This refers to both the actual landscape and the other drivers around you. Keep an eye out for disruptions ahead so you can prepare yourself should the driver in front of you suddenly brake or make any other unexpected move. Just because the light is red does not (unfortunately) mean they’ll stop. While in an ideal world every driver would obey the law and be conscientious towards everyone else on the road, reality doesn’t quite work like that.
Make sure to be alert and constantly on the look out when in unfamiliar surroundings. If you’re driving in an unfamiliar rural area, Google map or gps the route beforehand so you know where you’re going. Depending on which part of the world you’re in, it’s also a good idea to research any potential wildlife dangers (deer darting out on the road, bears etc) so you know what to expect. If you’re in an unfamiliar city, stick to busy well-lit roads and keep your doors locked. If you need to keep checking road signs, stick to the slow lane so other drivers can pass you.
It’s also a good idea to always keep an emergency kit in your car consisting of a flashlight, maps, first aid kit, tea lights and matches, first extinguisher, and blanket.
As you may have heard, texting while driving is one of the number one causes of accidents. In fact, it’s considered even more dangerous than drinking and driving! If you’re the driver, please don’t text or use your phone while driving. The same goes for phone calls; unless you have a hands free bluetooth device in your car that lets you dedicate your full attention (and both hands) to the road in front of you, don’t make or answer any phone calls while driving.
Make sure any pets or children you have in the car with you are secured and belted in. It only takes one moment of being distracted to cause a serious accident. By the same token, don’t play music too loudly if you know it’s going to distract you, and keep a pair of sunglasses in the car at all times to prevent the sun’s glare from affecting your visibility.
Make Smart Decisions about Your Own Mental and Physical State
Aside from the obvious ‘don’t drink and drive’, there are actually a number of other times that you should seriously evaluate whether you should be behind the wheel of a car or not. A huge number of accidents happen when one or more of the drivers on the road are tired or didn’t get enough sleep. Never underestimate the importance of reflexes in reaction to a potential collision.
If you’ve recently started taking any medications, read the list of side effects and pay attention to what your body is telling you. Check with your doctor to make sure you’re okay to drive even if you don’t feel drowsy, anxious, or distracted.
Lastly, don’t make yourself drive if you’re not comfortable. Say for instance, you’ve been out for dinner and had a beer. You’re still under the legal limit and know that you have every right to drive according to the law. If, despite that, you still feel like you won’t be as in control of yourself or your vehicle as you normally would be, take a cab home, request an Uber, or get a ride with someone else. Listen to your gut.