Drivers can face some stressful situations that require them to act quickly. If you’ve just started driving – or need a refresher – these safety tips can help.
Being new on the road sometimes feels like on-the-job training. You’ll encounter situations you’ve never anticipated and will have to react quickly. So buckle up and follow these tips to help you stay safe on the road.
Use seatbelts properly
Let seatbelts work in your favor by:
- Adjusting the lap belt snuggly across your hips and pelvis (not your stomach).
- Positioning the shoulder belt snuggly across your chest and collarbone. Placing the shoulder belt behind you could cause serious head or chest injury in an accident.
Studies show that talking on your cell phone or texting while driving quadruples your risk of having an accident. Other distractions such as eating, tending to children, talking to passengers and applying makeup while driving also cause numerous accidents. Such distractions can keep you from seeing a driver braking in front of you. Or you may change lanes without checking first for oncoming traffic, or fail to notice a red light. Pull over to a safe area if you need to eat, drink, tend to a crying child or talk on your cell phone.
Keep your cool
You’re late for an appointment. You’re stuck in traffic. The car in front of you is driving 10 miles below the speed limit. Avoid this stress by:
- Giving yourself plenty of time to get there
- Knowing alternate routes if there’s a delay
Conditions like these can push some people over the limit. Aggression can lead some drivers to:
- Run red lights
- Cut off other cars
- Take chances that endanger not only themselves, but those around them
If you spot an aggressive driver, get out of the way. Honking your horn, gesturing or otherwise expressing anger could lead to a case of road rage.
Don’t drive if you have been drinking or are drowsy
More than 16,000 people die each year in alcohol-related accidents. Something as simple as braking, steering or moving into another lane can be a challenge for a drunk driver.
Drowsy drivers are responsible for 100,000 crashes each year. About 1,500 people die in these accidents. If you start to feel tired while driving, find a safe place to pull over, then take a nap. But you may still be groggy for 15 or more minutes once you wake up. Coffee may help some people, but not everyone. And its effects may take 15 or more minutes and only last for an hour or so. Other things, like snacks, opening the window or listening to music haven’t been proven to help either. So get a good night’s sleep and be well rested before you take to the road!
If you see these signs of drunk or drowsy drivers, keep your distance:
- Crossing the center line
- Weaving between lanes
- Sudden braking
- Driving too closely to other vehicles
- Running traffic lights
- Making illegal turns
Know how to drive in bad weather
If you have to drive in rain, snow or ice, take these precautions:
- Give yourself extra time to get there.
- Use main roads.
- Use cruise control to avoid skidding.
- Be alert for black ice.
- When leaves are on the street, brake slowly.
- Drive slowly in rain and avoid puddles.
- Make sure your tires are always properly inflated.
Know your blind spots
Your blind spots are the areas next to your vehicle that you can’t see in your mirrors. Because you won’t detect a vehicle that is in a blind spot, always look over your shoulder before switching lanes. For your own safety, avoid driving in another vehicle’s blind spot.
Take extra precautions with trucks and buses
A collision with a large vehicle can be deadly. Be extra cautious when you are sharing the road with one.
- Trucks and buses need more time to stop than other vehicles. Don’t cause a situation that requires a large vehicle to brake quickly. This can lead to a serious accident.
- When passing a truck or bus, make sure you can see the entire front end of the vehicle in your rear-view mirror before pulling in front. These vehicles have large blind spots. If you can’t see the driver of a large vehicle, that means the driver cannot see you, either.