Whether you’re going about your daily commute to school or work, or you’re going on a road trip, safe driving is the surest way to get to your planned destination. Most of us remember many of the lessons we learned during driver’s ed., but there’s always room to add a few more bits of advice to help you drive safe.
Here are six tips about driving safety you should keep in mind before and during your next drive in your vehicle.
1) Keep Your Distance
This rule applies to both when driving on the highway or driving on side streets. The basic rule of thumb is to leave about two seconds between your car and the car ahead of you. This allows for enough room for you to brake hard in case the vehicle ahead of you brakes hard.
If you’re driving in the rain, sleet or snow, you’ll want to leave about another second of space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. These conditions call for you to drive safe and with more caution, which means more space will be needed in case you need to brake suddenly.
2) Check Your Brakes
Your brakes can make the difference between stopping safely and crashing into another car. But having brakes won’t mean a thing if they’re worn so badly, that they fail to work adequately. That’s why you need to have your brakes inspected, repaired or replaced as needed.
Generally, you want to have your mechanic inspect your brakes every other oil change. If you start hearing a screeching or squeaking sound from your brakes, it’s best to take your vehicle in for an inspection; otherwise, check your owner’s manual for more information on when to check your brakes. If you’re so inclined, you can save money by changing your own brake pads.
3) Always Check Your Blind Spots
Blind spots are defined as areas where you cannot see while you’re in your vehicle. It’s important to reduce your blind spots as much as possible.
There are three easy ways to do this:
- Adjust your rear view mirror so that it’s set to show your your whole back window. This view is important as it shows you the vehicles behind your car.
- Adjust both of your side mirrors so that each one can show you the vehicles behind you in the left and right lanes. You’ll get a better view of what’s immediately behind you, but you’ll still have to do one more thing to to greatly minimize your blind spot.
- Always turn your head and check your blind spot well before changing lanes. This step will greatly reduce your chances of getting in an accident. Plus, you’ll have time to signal your lane change before going through with it.
In the image above, you’ll notice the blue car in the middle has its rear view mirror and side mirrors positioned to cover blind spots behind and to the left of the car. However, the driver’s blind spot is present outside the passenger side window. The passenger side mirror only shows the left rear quarter panel of the red car. As a result, the driver would be wise to turn his head to the passenger side and check for vehicles in the right lane before executing a lane change.
This simple step can greatly reduce fender benders, traffic tie-ups or serious crashes on the highway or road.
4) Don’t Text and Drive
Texting and driving is a dangerous distraction behind the wheel. No matter how many times your phone alerts you of a text message, tweet, or reply from Instagram or some other social media service, don’t reply while you’re on the road. The more time you spend replying, the less time you’ll have to react to the traffic around you. Simply put, texting and driving is a recipe for a dangerous situation to occur.
If you really need to answer or make a phone call, reply to a text message, or send out a clever tweet, just pull over into a parking lot of a business. You’ll have all the time you need to do what you have to. This can spare you the embarrassment – or worse, the pain and suffering – of getting in an accident because you were texting while driving.
One other alternative is to equip your Bluetooth-enabled phone with a headset for your phone calls. You could simply answer the call while you drive. Just make sure to lower the volume of the radio.
Many newer vehicles include several smart features that will allow you to connect your phone with its infotainment system. Certain models also include a speech-to-text feature if you want to reply to a text message. Remember to connect your phone to the infotainment system before you drive. Trying to do so while driving defeats the purpose of minimizing distractions while driving.
5) Use Your Headlights
There’s an added benefit to using your headlights: you get a more illuminated visual field ahead of you. Regardless of whether it’s pitch black outdoors or the skies are overcast and gray, driving with your headlights on is common courtesy and smart.
One way to make sure your headlights are working well is to turn them on at night while your vehicle is parked. You’ll notice how bright or dim your lights are in these conditions. If you notice your lights aren’t really that bright, check the outside of the headlights for excessive haze or a thick film that may be opaquing the light. These conditions generally exist on older vehicles.
To fix this problem, simply wash your vehicle and pay special attention to the hazy headlights. Pick up a headlight restoration kit at your local auto supply store and follow the instructions. If you follow the instructions correctly, this should end up thoroughly reducing – if not completely eliminating – the headlight haze that exists on your vehicle. The cleaner your headlights, the more light goes through.
6) Use Your Hazard Lights
Hazard lights are a great way to communicate with fellow drivers and others about your need for assistance. But you can also use them to advise them of dangers ahead or around you.
Traditionally, you’ll see fellow drivers use their hazard lights when they’ve stalled their vehicles on the side of the road, or when they’re driving with a mechanical problem that’s slowing them down.
One way to use your hazard lights is to advise other drivers of inclement weather immediately ahead of them. Turn on your hazard lights and slow down as you’re driving through a snowstorm or heavy rainstorm. This will warn drivers that you’re reducing your speed and to be cautious of the weather. It’s a quick courtesy driving tip that can be useful in many situations.
Hazard lights can also be used to warn drivers of generally slower driving conditions ahead of you. This can mean seeing a stalled vehicle or crash ahead, driving by a law enforcement official who pulled over a motorist on the shoulder of a freeway or road, or warning others about debris on the roadway. The important thing to remember about this tip is that these examples are all under the umbrella of courtesy driving.
By warning your fellow motorists about these suddenly changing conditions, you’ll be doing your part to help reduce the possibility of an accident to yourself and those around you. You’ve also just learned other times when to use your hazard lights.
So there you have it. Our six simple tips for safe driving can really benefit you and any other driver out on the roadways. Be sure to share this post with your family and friends so that they can keep this advice in mind the next time they go behind the wheel.
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