There’s no question it’s a dangerous world out there. And hitting the road in your car is one of the biggest dangers there is. As safe-driving expert Alex Perdikis says, “Drivers today have to be ready…” You not only have to make sure your car is safe to drive and you drive with caution, you have to watch out for other drivers who may or may not be paying attention.
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Follow these tips to stay safe on the road.
It’s In Your Hands
Remember when you first learned to drive and your parents and instructors laid out all of the rules you had to abide by? Now would be a good time to think about those rules again.
Much of the responsibility for staying safe on the road is in your hands. The way you drive and how you take care of your car makes a huge difference. It’s easy to become complacent over time, but being complacent while in control of a multi-ton vehicle is not a great combination.
Stay safe and follow these guidelines:
- Give yourself enough time to get where you’re going. Hurrying to be somewhere is not only one of the biggest reasons people speed, it’s also stressful. Worrying about being late to work distracts you. Speeding puts your life as well as the lives of others at risk. If you can, leave for work a few minutes early and drive stress-free. It’s a cliché, yes, but still true: it’s better to get to work late than not get there at all.
- Leave the Distractions Behind: Well, maybe not behind. You need your phone, but you don’t need it in your hands while driving. Or, in your ear. No conversations and no texting while you drive. If you absolutely have to communicate with someone, pull over first. You also don’t need to shave, put on your makeup, comb your hair or do any number of other things while you drive. Focus and drive.
- Plan Ahead: Planning ahead for a long trip seems logical, but did you know planning ahead even when it’s your daily commute makes you safer? Do you have to get gas this morning? Is it your turn to pick up bagels for the meeting? Give yourself extra time and plan your route accordingly. And don’t forget to check the weather. Stay informed about weather related issues that may affect your commute. Did it snow? Is it supposed to? Is your area experiencing heavy rains or strong winds? Prepare and plan accordingly.
- Maintain Your Car: Make sure your car is safe, with adequate tires and working brakes. Keep windows clean and free from obstructions. Change the oil and get tuneups when recommended.
- Drive Defensively and Courteously: Keep an eye on everything going on around you. Maintain enough distance between you and other vehicles to give yourself time to react if someone does something unexpected. Watch out for children or animals who may be on the side of the road. And, mind your manners. Don’t hog the road, cut people off, lose your temper or try to get back at another driver over a perceived transgression.
When It’s Not in Your Control
Sometimes things just happen. If another driver exhibits anger toward you, avoid a confrontation by refusing to make eye contact and keeping your windows rolled up. Do not engage with the driver in any way. If the driver follows or harasses you, drive to a public parking lot or nearby police station for help. Do not leave your car until help arrives.
If you’re involved in an accident, stay calm and take pictures before the vehicles are moved. Pictures help the police and insurance investigators determine who was at fault. Always call the police, even if it’s only a fender bender. They may not come, but there’ll be a record of the accident. You may need that confirmation, particularly if the other driver is not insured.