When it comes to our nation’s roadways, it can be a real jungle out there. Danger can lurk around the corner at any time. Whether it’s distracted drivers, poor road conditions, or ice and snow, there are a million factors that can contribute to you ending up in an accident. This makes road safety a serious issue for the cautious driver.
You can’t control the weather. You’re also not responsible for how other people act while they’re behind the wheel. Yet there are things that you can do while you’re driving to help minimize your chances of being in an accident yourself. They may not be not foolproof, but the following road safety tips and techniques can help you stay one step ahead of a bad accident.
Turns Out Your Old Driver’s Ed Teacher Was Right
Remember all those platitudes your Driver’s Ed teacher drilled into you in high school? Turns out they were right. The best way to approach safe driving is to think about the types of things you were told all those years ago. None of these recommendations is flashy or exciting, but that doesn’t change how effective they’re going to be.
Considering it’s probably been several years since your last Driver’s Ed class, here are some refreshers on what you likely would have learned:
Mirror and Belt Check Before You Even Turn the Ignition
The first thing you should to after getting in your vehicle is to fasten your seat belt. Everyone knows that. The next thing you should do, even before turning the ignition, is to check your mirrors. Make sure your rear-view mirror is adjusted to give you the clearest view, and make sure your wing mirrors are tweaked properly as well. A good rule of thumb is to have as little of your car door reflected in your side mirrors, as this minimizes your blind spots as much as possible. And yes, if you have motorized mirrors, it’s okay to turn the engine over first.
Stay Alert, Even When It’s a Pain to Do So
It’s easy to be lulled into a false sense of security behind the wheel. This often occurs when it’s nice out; the windows are down, you’re singing along to the radio without a care in the world, and suddenly out of nowhere — wham. But was it really “out of nowhere” or were you just not paying attention? The truth is that you’ve got to keep your wits about you at all times when driving. You’ve got to constantly check your speed, your position relative to other drivers, and your distance to the nearest stop sign, traffic light, or intersection. It’s a pain to do so constantly, but you’re much more likely to be in an accident the moment you stop paying attention.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
For most of us, driving can be a real chore. It’s a way to get to A to B, but it can be mind-numbing. As a result, there’s a natural inclination to get done quickly, and that can lead to making mistakes like speeding, pulling out into traffic without checking, or racing traffic lights. Those are all great ways to end up in accidents, especially ones that turn out to be your fault. The only solution is to take your time. Yes, this means that it’s going to take a bit more time getting to where you need to go — but at least this way you’ll get there in one piece. Ask anyone who’s been in a car accident if they would have rather just had a slow boring, commute and see what they say.
Make Accommodations for Bad Weather
Driving in inclement weather can be stressful. Heavy fog, rain, and snow can all reduce visibility and make roads treacherous. Ice is even more dangerous, especially while traveling at high speeds, as all it takes is a single patch of slippery highway for you to lose control. This means that the best thing you can do to avoid getting into an accident in bad weather is to not drive. If you absolutely have no choice, though, you need to make accommodations such as driving more slowly and leaving more space between you and the vehicle in front of you. This allows you more time and space to react to a sudden stop or swerve.
When in Doubt, Let the Other Guy Go
Driving can be one of the most stressful things on the planet. Traffic can fill even the sweetest, most even-tempered person with enough rage to bite clear through their steering wheel, after all! It’s tempting to drive aggressively in these situations as a way to vent some of these frustrations, but that can lead to road rage-fueled accidents that could have been entirely avoided. Before you decide to go full Taxi Driver on some harried, clueless soccer mom when she cuts you off in her minivan, take a deep breath and just let it go. Talk to your therapist about it instead of starting something that will end up with you being on the 10 o’clock news.
Keep Your Car in Good Mechanical Shape
Keeping a car running costs money. Usually just a little, but sometimes a lot — especially if you keep up with regular maintenance. Yet this can be crucial in keeping you safer on the road. Replacing your worn windshield wipers means they will keep your view of the road clearer during bad weather. Getting new tires when your old ones wear out help your vehicle grip the road better. Maintained brakes can help you stop short safely. The list goes on and on — it can be expensive, but it’s less expensive than hospital bills in the wake of an accident.
Guest article written by: Amy Simonetta is the manager at myaccident.org an app that is dedicated to helping all victims of Car Accidents find their Accident Report online.