There are a lot of dangers on the road, both common and uncommon – but how much of a distracted driver are you? We’re going to go through a few of the ways to combat some of the more common issues when it comes to staying safe on the road.
Whether you’re driving a car, scooter or bike, there are some basic things that you should be not doing. You can’t be stupid and drive while intoxicated or otherwise distracted (this means no talking on the cell phone, no texting – all the obvious stuff).
There are also common practices that you should be doing, like wearing a helmet or seat belt. But there are a few things that may slip under your radar when it comes to driving safely.
If you’re tired when you’re driving, that can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. Maybe not completely, but being tired while driving can drastically alter your driving habits. A study conducted recently found that 20% of all accidents have drowsiness as a contributing factor.
Obviously, if you fall asleep at the wheel, you are going to drift off the road and run into any number of things, from phone polls to ditches and trees. But that isn’t the only dangerous thing about driving while tired.
Especially driving on the highway when you’re at the speed of traffic, your reaction time needs to be at pace with everyone else. When you’re tired, that’s not going to be the case. Even a few seconds inattention can spell doom for you and any passengers that you may have in your car.
Watch the Weather
This may be an “obvious” way to stay safe, too, but people don’t always abide by it. Just because you have a car that has its snow tires on or is 4-wheel drive doesn’t mean that you can drive the same way that you would in perfect weather with perfect roads.
Be considerate of the obstacles put before you – any weather means you’re at higher risk for distraction (because it requires even more attention, if possible) and consequently, more accident prone. Any kind of weather means that there are more factors affecting your driving that are out of your control. And that isn’t anything that you can change.
You’re going to want to maintain extra space between you and the car in front of you, be careful around curves, and drive below the speed limit if necessary. And a special note if you pull off to the shoulder of the road to wait out the weather – turn off your lights, especially in fog or snow, as other cars will be looking for lights to follow, and may not realize that you aren’t moving until it’s too late to avoid collision.
Three Second Rule
We all learned the 3 second rule when we were in driving school, years and years ago – but some of us disregard that rule in the fast lane just because we need to get where we’re going and we don’t care if we’re tailing the car in front of us.
It’s not just annoying to the other driver, it’s not safe for either of you. The reason the three second rule exists so that you can have enough time to properly react if the car in front of you stops suddenly or makes a sharp turn, or do something unexpected on the road. And if you aren’t far enough behind them, you’re probably going to cause a collision yourself.
For those of you that need a refresher, the three second rule is quite simple. Find a stationary object in front of you – like an exit sign or a mile marker – and when the car in front of you passes it, start counting. It should be 3 seconds between when the other car passes the object until when you do.
Assume Everyone Else Is An Idiot
It’s true – one of the biggest dangers to you on the road is other people. You can’t control what they’re going to do, and you can’t read their minds. You don’t know if they actually know the traffic laws, if they are actually going to be turning just because their turn signal is on….and the list goes on.
If you’re particularly concerned about the other drivers on the road and the damage that they could do to you and your car, you would do well to sign up for a defensive driving course.
Maintain Your Vehicle
This is another pretty straightforward safety tip, but it’s not just yourself that you need to keep at attention on the road – if your car isn’t responding properly, the three second rule may not help you avoid an accident, or the weather could cause even greater issues with your car.
Make sure that your car is up-to-date – and actually read your owner’s manual to see what should be done on your car and when.
What do you find are your biggest distractions when driving and what do you do to combat them?
Melissa Lawyer likes a guy that thinks safe and wears scooter helmets for men. She also thinks that staying safe while driving is important – and hopes that everyone wears their seat belt!