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With all the distractions and the fast-paced nature of our lives, safe driving can be difficult in this day and age. However, it is more important than ever to strive to be a safe driver. The following is a list of ways to practice safe driving, and how to avoid motorists who do not.

Keeping Your Vehicle Safe

The first step to safe driving is operating a safe vehicle. Following these tips will not only keep your car in good working order, but it will also extend the life of your car exponentially. Before taking your vehicle out on the road, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

Regular MaintenanceTechnician looking for potential issues on a silver sedan.

Routine maintenance is one of the most important preventative actions you can take for safe driving. You should follow your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. This should  include regular tune ups, oil changes, tire replacements and rotations, and brake check ups. This will keep your vehicle performing at its best, preventing the risk of accidents or other issues from arising while on the road.

Weather Specific Care

It’s not enough to do routine maintenance for your vehicle, especially if you live in areas that tend to experience severe weather. 

Winter Safety

If you live in an area with sudden or severe winter storms, there are several things you need to do to prepare your car for safe driving. First and foremost, checking your tires and having them replaced with newer, or even winter specific, tires. Replace your regular windshield washer fluid with a de-icing fluid, and replace your windshield wipers with winter wipers to clear away ice and frost safely and easily. Be sure to always remove all ice and snow from your car before getting on the road to prevent chunks of ice from blowing off your vehicle and damaging anyone behind you. Finally, always keep your gas tank at least half full, and carry a winter safety kit containing items like a flashlight, flares, a battery recharger or jumper cables, a shovel, gloves and a blanket. These preparations will keep you safe in the very worst winter conditions. 

Summer Safety

Everyone always talks about winterizing a car, but rarely does the topic of summer preparation come up. “Summerizing” your vehicle is extremely important the further south you live. Keeping your A/C in good working order, checking any belts and hoses for rot or other problems, and checking your battery are the biggest steps for summer preparation. In addition to that, having a summer emergency kit containing necessities such as water, a fire extinguisher, rain poncho, spare tire and jack, and other emergency items can keep you prepared for any severe summer conditions.

Keeping Yourself Safe

Another major factor in safe driving is your personal safety. Knowing how to keep yourself safe before turning the car on will set your trip up for success.

Woman driver buckle up the seat belt before driving car

Seatbelts

Everyone knows seatbelts save lives, and yet hundreds of car related deaths are caused by a lack of seatbelts every year. Even in low speed accidents, the chance of injury or death is significantly higher than it would be if the driver or passenger was wearing their seatbelt. Always wear your seatbelt and require any passengers to wear theirs to keep everyone in the vehicle safe.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is one of the biggest obstacles to safe driving. Unfortunately with all of the devices available to the modern driver, it’s easy to be tempted into pulling your eyes off the road or letting go of the wheel.  No text or email is important enough to risk your life or the lives of others. Even using the in-car navigation system while your vehicle is moving can put you at risk. To avoid any risk to yourself, passengers or other motorists, always pull over to use any devices, or opt for hands-free, voice controlled systems, like Siri, to manage any communication that absolutely can’t wait. 

Impaired Driving

Another major issue in the modern world is impaired driving. With busy lives and long commutes, it often happens that drivers are overly tired, leading to very unsafe circumstances. Driving while drowsy is similar to driving while intoxicated. Both severely impact the safety of your driving, causing you to be less alert and affects your coordination, judgment and reaction time. To keep yourself and others safe, if you are beginning to feel tired, always pull into a rest stop to give yourself even a few minutes to rest before returning to the road, and never, ever drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Controlling Your Car Safely

Your car is in good shape with all the routine maintenance done, you’re buckled in and alert, now it’s time to drive! The final key factor in safe driving is knowing how to safely operate your vehicle. 

Defensive Driving

While defensive driving can sound a bit intense, it’s simply the practice of implementing all the skills a good driver should have, as well as being aware of what other drivers are likely to do. Staying focused and alert is the first key to safe driving, as well as following all traffic laws, paying attention to road conditions, planning ahead to allow yourself enough time for travel, and paying attention to other drivers. Many drivers do not follow these simple guidelines, putting others at risk. Always assume that there is a possibility that other drivers will not follow the laws, such as speed limits, stop signs, and traffic lights. Taking an extra 30 seconds at a traffic light that has turned green to make sure the oncoming car with a red light will stop can prevent a potentially life threatening collision. Keeping this in mind will provide you extra time to observe other drivers behaviors and safe choices while on the road. 

Female driver wearing yellow puffer coat driving in snowy conditions

Driving In Poor Weather

Practicing safe driving in poor weather conditions such as rain, snow, fog, sleet, and wind is vital for the modern driver. Thankfully, many cars have built-in functions to help drivers keep control of their vehicle, but relying on those alone is not enough to be a safe driver. The best option in almost all poor road conditions is to reduce your speed. Speed limits are put in place with ideal conditions in mind. When driving in less than ideal conditions, limiting your speed will allow you more time for reacting to other drivers as well as increased stopping time and the ability to better control your vehicle. 

Speeding

As mentioned, reducing your speeds in unsafe conditions is important for safe driving. But what about in ideal conditions? Drivers often do not give themselves enough time to reach a destination, resulting in speeding to try and get there faster. Unfortunately, this puts not only themselves but other drivers at a severe risk as it drastically limits their reaction time and the reaction of fellow motorists. When it comes to safe driving, always move at or slightly below the speed limit, and utilize your cruise control when it is safe to do so. Move out of the way of speeding motorists, and never allow other drivers to force you to go faster. 

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