Every time you get behind the wheel of your automobile you are operating a potentially dangerous piece of equipment. Whether you’re a long-time experienced driver or just got your driver’s license, there’s always room for improvement. Here are a few practical tips to help keep you safe.
- Take a Defensive Driver Course Did you know the DMV offers a Voluntary Defensive Driving Course? Completing a defensive driving course can benefit you in many ways, including reducing your risk of: committing traffic offenses, receiving driving record points, causing accidents.
- Keep your hands on in the proper position on the wheel This used to be taught as 10:00 and 2:00. Not anymore. Now it’s either 9 and 3 or 8 and 4. This gives you more control and stability when driving, and is also the most ergonomic position in which to hold your hands for long periods of time. With you muscles more relaxed and having more control over your vehicle you’re instantly a better driver.
- Adjust you mirrors to cover you blind spots Car and Driver Magazine advocates adjusting the mirrors so far outward that the viewing angle of the side mirrors just overlaps that of the cabin’s rearview mirror. At first, this can be disorienting for drivers used to seeing the flanks of their own car in the side mirrors. But when correctly positioned, the mirrors negate a car’s blind spots. Practice in your neighborhood before driving the interstate.
- Don’t drive when sleepy or less than alert According to a 2010 study, 17% of fatal accidents involved a sleepy driver.
- Know the best way to merge into traffic Inefficient lane merging can cause traffic, road rage, and accidents. The best, most efficient solution for all of us is to stay calm and zipper merge, each one taking our turn. At the very least, when merging or when others are trying to merge, be patient. But also, don’t be that guy holding up the whole lane.
- Don’t use cruise control in the rain The next time you find yourself behind the wheel of car in a rainstorm, be sure to disable cruise control. If you end up hydroplaning, your cruise control can make it a lot more dangerous.
- Ditch the distractions Distracted driving is a killer, but it’s hard to know how to stop. Even a hands-free Bluetooth can take your focus of the road. Try this: Simply leave the phone in the glove compartment so you don’t have to look at it.
- Know what’s around you Learning the mechanics of driving a car isn’t that difficult. It’s being aware of everything that’s going on around you that requires attention and focus. Practice your situational awareness. Try to be aware of ALL the road signs you pass. Next, make sure you know where all pedestrians are, especially kids and bicyclists, and anticipate their movements. Add being aware of all the cars around you. Then make sure you see all the motorcycles out there too.
- Improve your night driving It might seem like common sense, but having a clean windshield makes a huge difference in night driving. It’s not just the outside of the windshield. Clean the inside as well. And if your headlight lenses have become yellowed or “foggy” over the years, you can clean them with a polishing kit from any auto parts store for about $15. As you’d expect, cleaning your headlights increases the amount of light that gets through and makes it easier to see at night.
- Know where you’re going Even with your GPS navigation system, you could find yourself saying, “Wait, which highway am I supposed to get on?” and in a panic make a sudden, dangerous move. Try to scope out an unfamiliar route as much as possible before you start driving. Try using Google Street view so you can recognize landmarks and tricky intersections before you start out.
We here at Freedom Insurance are all about safety, so we hope this post was helpful for you as you keep yourself and your loved ones safe on the road. Got a driver safety tip? A success story? Tell us in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!