Safe driving is taught in driver's ed classes, but if you're like most people, this is the only time you've been exposed to any intensive education on the subject. This allows the information to fade over time, and in the process, bad habits can develop. Here are a few refresher tips to help you stay safe on the road:
1. Put the Phone Down
This may seem obvious, but according to USA Today, 1 in 4 accidents are caused by using cell phones while driving. Between January and March of last year, a whopping 245,358 car crashes were attributed to cell phone use. Only 5 percent of these accidents were caused by texting, while the other 95 percent were caused by the distraction of talking on the phone. Surprisingly, using a hands-free phone didn't help. The USA Today report says that a study found that a driver will be just as distracted by talking on the phone if the hands aren't used.
2. Keep Your Car in Good Shape
Repairs like advanced brake jobs are expensive, and this causes some people to be unmotivated about getting them fixed. Unfortunately, the laws of physics have no concern for a driver's financial status. If you can't afford to get safety-related repairs, it's best to use another form of transportation until you can save up enough to take the car to the mechanic.
3. Go With the Flow
Be aware of the other traffic and try to match its average speed. This helps both you and the traffic around you avoid dangerous swerving maneuvers. You'll also be less likely to rear-end someone or be rear-ended.
4. Drive Sober
This doesn't just apply to alcohol! There is a common misconception in some areas that it's safe to drive while under the influence of marijuana. In reality, a study shows that someone who drives while stoned doubles his or her chance of an accident. The controversy arises because legislators have had a hard time pinning down a hard blood-THC percentage for a legal definition of marijuana intoxication. If you want to be safe, simply don't get behind the wheel if you've had pot and still feel the buzz. The same goes for any other type of drug that doesn't have a firm legal level of intoxication, such as prescription medications.
5. Make Sure You're Well-Rested
Driving while fatigued slows your reflexes in a way similar to that of a few drinks. Fatigued drivers can also fall completely to sleep while behind the wheel.
6. Accommodate the Weather
Many people attempt to drive the same way all year round, without regard to rain, snow, or ice. Unfortunately, cars react differently than normal during all of these weather conditions, and this leads to accidents. Being "used to" such weather gives some benefit of practice, but can also lead to overconfidence and wrecks. Therefore, it's important to always stay alert to how various forms of precipitation affect road performance.
7. Don't Hurry
If you observe traffic just before and during the rush hours, you'll see plenty of people zooming out in front of others, speeding, trying to beat red lights, and engaging in other such behavior. Their excuse will be that they're "in a hurry." Alas, the requirements of safe driving don't change because of a hurry. Cars take just as long to stop, people still go on the green, and other drivers don't miraculously gain the ability to miss you. The best solution is simply to refuse to hurry. If that means you'll be late, so be it - better to be late and intact than end up in an accident that'll delay you far more than safe driving ever will.
These are just some tips for avoiding accidents while driving. The final one is simply to drive defensively. A driving style that uses caution and common sense at all times is the best general protection from wrecks.