Car care is an important part of auto safety in . But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on roads is to drive safely.
Defensive driving is safe driving. And defensive driving is all about attitude. You have to decide that you will be a safe driver in , no matter what anyone else is doing.
car owners can start with awareness. Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, the road conditions, other vehicles on the road or expressway and road hazards. Have you ever suddenly realized that you have arrived somewhere, but you don’t really remember driving there? That is unsafe driving.
Never assume that other motorists are paying attention. You be the one on alert. You be the one to take initiative to stay out of the way of other drivers. And don’t let familiarity dull your alertness. Remind yourself to pay as close attention while driving on the roads near your home as you would in unfamiliar territory around .
Prepare your so you can give the road your full attention. Secure passengers and pets before leaving the driveway. Secure loose items in your so they can’t become projectiles if you have to brake suddenly. If children or pets become a distraction while driving, pull over and take care of the problem before re-entering traffic. Unclutter your windows. Take down the danglies from your rearview mirror. And don’t use your dashboard as an office. Move distractions and clutter to the backseat. Keep your windshield clear.
Properly maintain your . Preventive maintenance doesn’t just prevent repairs; it prevents unsafe vehicles. Make sure your tires, lights, brakes, suspension, alignment and steering get regular check-ups at . Also, listen to your service advisor when he gives you auto advice about other systems in your . Knowing about the wear and tear on your can help you avoid dangerous situations.
Avoid driving when you are sleepy or angry. Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip in , and learn to set aside relationship, job or other issues while you are in a vehicle. Again, you have to take charge of your own safety. Don’t daydream in your vehicle. Also, talking to passengers can be a distraction. Keep your mind on the road. Conversations may keep you from daydreaming or excessive boredom on a long trip, but always keep your driving foremost in your mind.
Maintain a proper speed. Driving too fast is dangerous on crowded roads, but driving too slowly can cause accidents, too. At night, don’t overdrive your headlights. Your stopping distance needs to be shorter than the distance your headlights are illuminating.
Never drink and drive. Alcohol plays a part in half of all fatal accidents in and nationally. Also, don’t drive drugged. Pay attention to the warning labels on any medications you are taking.
Other motorists need to see you and know what you want to do. Use your turn signals, and stay out of other drivers’ blind spots.
If you can, avoid driving over debris in the road. You can damage your or end up in an accident. Of course, if swerving to avoid the debris is dangerous, then slow down and navigate as best you can. Do what you can to alert other car owners to the problem. You may want to pull to the side of the road and report the debris or move it to the side of the road, if you can do so safely.
Never follow too closely on roads or expressways. Observe the two-second rule. Choose an object ahead such as a tree or traffic sign. As the car in front of you passes it, start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. If you reach the object before you’re done, you’re too close. Back off.
If you are on one of the interstates, or if you are hauling a heavy load, or if you are tired, or if in any way you are not the model of the alert and attentive driver, then increase that two-second rule to three seconds. Give yourself an added measure of safety. If the weather is bad, increase the rule to five seconds.
Inevitably, someone always pulls in front of you when you are trying to follow the “seconds” rules. Don’t get mad. Just back off and leave them to their bad driving habits. Remember, you are not going to give up your safety for anyone else’s cussedness. It’s always a bad trade.
If someone is following you too closely, pull over and let them pass. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If you’re late, worry about it after you’re there, not while you’re on the road.
If you see a vehicle driving erratically in , stay away. Take the next right or the next exit off the expressway. Notify the police as soon as you are safely stopped.
And of course, don’t be the idiot driver we all complain about in . Don’t contest your right-of-way, don’t race to beat someone to a merge, and don’t cut into someone else’s two seconds of space. Winning these types of ego trips may end up losing you your —or worse, your life or the life of a friend.
The professional automotive team at wants all drivers to stay smart and stay safe.