There comes a time in each of our lives when we must leave the comfort and protection of our parents and become independently functioning adults.
Perhaps the largest part of this is learning to drive, and though there are some of us who are anxious to hit the road, the majority of us – myself included, when I first began learning to drive – can’t wait to get behind the wheel of that vehicle and join the menagerie of road-goers.
The obvious first step to getting your driver’s license is going through driving school, and while this certainly isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, it’s the most important.
Anyone can operate a vehicle with enough training – it takes a driver’s ed to learn the rules of the road, how to safely deal with harsh weather conditions and other drivers, and safe driving practices.
The latter is probably the most important of these aspects; it helps you understand the importance of the rules put into place, teaching you how to be more alert when you’re on the road, to look out for other drivers while also keeping yourself in check, and helps to create a safer environment on the road for all of us.
In this post, we’ll be going over several important safe driving tips to give you, the budding driver, an idea of what to expect, as well as giving more experienced drivers a bit of a refresher course. After all, we all need a little bit of a reminder sometimes, and there’s certainly no shame in that.
Your Car Should Always Be Well-Maintained
As a responsible car owner, it’s your duty to keep it well-maintained to extend its value. Maintaining your car is more than just cleaning it, you also need to ensure that it’s road-worthy.
Make sure to check the following before driving your vehicle:
- The gas levels should never be near empty
- Check if the lights are all working properly
- The water level should be checked every 2 weeks
- Make sure to check the fluid levels (engine oil, coolant, brake fluid, radiator, washer fluid, transmission, and power steering)
- Take note of your car battery’s expiration date
Always Use Your Seatbelt
Just running some errands? It doesn’t matter! Whether you’re driving for a short period of time or not, wearing your seatbelt is nonnegotiable.
Up until today, we are reminded by the media about the importance of buckling up. However, some drivers and passengers refuse to do so. Some are too complacent because cars have air safety bags.
But, remember that the simple act of practicing wearing your seatbelts even on short trips, will help save your life in case you get into an accident.
Keep Your Distance
Are you aware of the 3-second rule?
When driving, you should keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Most drivers use the 3-second rule to establish a safe distance.
For example, look for a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car in front of you passes that object, start counting at least 3 seconds before you pass that object.
A safe distance will give the driver enough time to stop in case the driver in front suddenly steps on their brake.
Never Drink and Drive
This one is mostly for those of us over the age of 21, but I’m certainly not going to sit here and pretend that younger folks don’t dabble a bit in the drink as well, because we know that teens are involved in drunk driving crashes too. It’s not something I condone, it’s just the way it is.
What most people don’t realize is that, when you drink alcohol, your balance and speech aren’t the only things that become impaired; your judgment and reaction time go down the drain as well. Driving while drunk is extremely dangerous to both yourself and other drivers, and is never a good idea – not even if you’ve only had one drink.
While the number of alcohol related accidents and deaths is slowly dwindling down as the years pass as we continue to concentrate on the dangers of drunk driving, it’s still an issue which is ever-present, and should always be taken seriously. If you or someone you know has been drinking, or is planning on drinking, your best bet is to either stay home, or designate a friend you trust to drive you somewhere if you absolutely have to go out.
No Phones Allowed
This is a bit of a stretch, as you certainly need your phone in case of an accident, but the cause of that accident should never be because you were using said phone while you were driving. I mean it.
There’s nothing at all within a text message or even a phone call that can’t wait until you’ve arrived safely at your destination. Cell phones pull your full attention from the road, and even though it may be for a few seconds, a lot of bad things can happen within the span of that time.
Even at a low speed, both fatal and non-fatal crashes have been known to happen due to a lack of attention to the road. Because of this, the best practice is to just leave your phone on the seat next to you, in the center console, or in your bag, forgetting it exists until you’ve gotten where you’re going.
Other drivers will thank you, your friends and family will thank you, and you can check all the notifications you want at minimal risk once you’ve reached the end of your trip. It’s a win-win for all, don’t you agree?
Avoid All Distractions
Phones aren’t the only distraction you’ll encounter while driving. Doing things like reaching into your bag or glove compartment, putting on makeup, fixing your hair, eating and driving, and using your rearview mirror to check yourself rather than the traffic behind you are all things that can take your attention off the road and risk the lives of others or yourself, so don’t do it.
The only thing you should be doing while behind the wheel of a moving vehicle is focusing on driving and the other drivers around you. Sure, you may think you’re the most skilled multitasker in the world, but consider this: not everyone is as talented as you think you are, and while you may be keeping an eye out for everyone else, there’s no way everyone is keeping an eye out for you. Better safe than sorry, right?
Turn Signals Are There For A Reason
One of my personal pet peeves is a driver who doesn’t signal when they turn or change lanes. It really grinds my gears!
While it is always wise to use caution when turning or changing lanes, it’s also important to remember that people are not mind readers, and signaling before making your move makes everything easier for everyone on the road.
Using a turn signal is the easiest and most efficient way to let everyone around you know what your intentions are, and helps keep accidents to a minimum.
I’m also going to take this time now to educate you a little bit, in the even that your turn signal may be broken.
Did you know that there are hand signals you can use to warn other drivers of the moves you mean to make? Yeah!
While these aren’t quite as visible to every other driver, and are utilized most by those operating motor bikes, they are still helpful to those in your immediate vicinity, and we’ll all thank you for using them.
You learn something new all the time!
While these tips are certainly not the only important safe driving tips out there, they are some of what I consider to be the most important to maintaining the safety of yourself and other drivers while on the road.
You should always do everything you can to make the road as safe as possible not only for yourself, but for others as well, and everyone on the road will silently thank you for your efforts.