23 Tips for Safe Driving
You probably drive a car every day, right? And you probably think you're a safe driver. But think about it: each time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you must perform a series of complicated, split-second tasks. You must coordinate the actions of your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and body movements. At the same time, you must decide how to react to what you see, hear, and feel from other cars and drivers, traffic signs and signals, road conditions and your own vehicle's performance.
These decisions are usually made at high speed and in close proximity to other vehicles also traveling at high speed, and they must be converted into the correct action - brake, steer, accelerate, or a combination of the three - to maintain or adjust your position in traffic. And these decisions must be made constantly, over and over. About 20 major decisions are needed for each mile driven; drivers must frequently act in less than one-half second to avoid a collision with another vehicle or a pedestrian.
When you think of it that way, you may never want to get in a car again. But relax, follow the safety tips described below, use your common sense and best judgment, and you'll be one of the safest drivers on the road.
Be an alert, well-rested driver
- Get a good night's sleep before setting out
- Plan to drive during normal waking hours
- Pull off the road and sleep between midnight and 6 a.m.
- Drive with a companion if you can. Talk to each other and share the driving
- Plan to take a break every two hours or every 100 miles
- If you experience difficulty focusing your eyes or keeping your head up, can't stop yawning, have trouble thinking clearly, remembering the last few miles, or staying in your lane, it's time to stop and catch some shuteye
Be cautious when trying to pass another driver
- If the vehicle you are trying to pass speeds up, let it go. Don't get into a drag race
- Don't take risks. If in doubt, don't pass
Maintain your distance from other drivers while driving on a multilane highway
- The most important rule is to maintain a safe following distance. For every ten miles of speed, stay one vehicle length away from the car in front of you. For example, if you are driving at a speed of 40 miles per hour, you should be a least four car lengths behind the vehicle in front of you. Keeping this safe distance whenever possible will greatly reduce your chances of collision
- If you can't see beyond the vehicle in front of you, increase the distance between you. The driver in front of you might swerve into the next lane to avoid a slow or stopped vehicle and put you in danger of a collision. If you have to stop unexpectedly, get off the road and use your emergency flashers
- Always try to pull your vehicle completely off the road. Leaving even a part of your vehicle sticking out into the roadway can create a serious hazard
- If you have to pull off onto the shoulder, turn on your flashers, whether it's day or night. At night, drowsy drivers watching your taillights could follow you onto the shoulder, thinking you are still moving
- If an emergency forces you to stop and park on the roadway, immediately put your flashers on
- Carry triangle reflectors or flares in your trunk. In the event that you must pull over at night placing them around your car will make you more visible to other drivers on the road, thus reducing the chances of your car being hit
Drive cautiously when road conditions are poor
- Use moderation in judging safe speed. To maintain a safe stopping distance, slow down, but not so much that you become a hazard to drivers behind
- Apply brakes gently and steer without jerky movements
- Beware of travelling too slowly on slick, banked curves. You might slide sideways into opposing traffic or off the road
- Slow down or pull off the road in conditions of reduced visibility
- Use care in judging safe speed. Keep your vehicle clean, especially the headlights, windshield, and tail lights. Use emergency flashers, if necessary
- Get off road and wait for conditions to improve, if necessary. Watch out for pedestrians
- Slow down to avoid a pedestrian who may step in front of your vehicle. It is difficult for pedestrians to correctly judge how fast you are approaching. If you are going faster than normal for the area, pedestrians may think they have time to cross when they don't
- At night, pedestrians often assume you can see them because they can see your headlights so easily. Invest in a membership with a roadside rescue service
- A membership with Triple AAA or a similar roadside rescue service will come in handier than anything else when you find yourself stranded