Top 25 Safe Driving Tips – Staying Safe on the Road
Last Updated on August 31, 2020
The best way to lower car insurance costs is to avoid a car accident. You can avoid car accidents by driving safely.
It’s no secret that defensive driving prevents accidents. By implementing certain driving habits, you can significantly reduce your chances of getting into an accident.
Today, we’re highlighting some of the best driving safety tips you can implement today.
Our Top Driving Safety Tips
We’ll start with an obvious one. Many drivers leave too little room between cars. If the driver in front of you slammed on the brakes, would you have enough time to stop? If not, then you’re driving too close. As a general rule, try to leave three seconds between you and the car in front of you. If the weather is poor – say, if there’s water, ice, or snow on the road – then leave four or five seconds of space. The more space you leave, the more time you have to react.
Check Your Blind Spots
Many accidents are caused when drivers fail to check their blind spots. Many drivers fail to shoulder check when changing lanes, which could cause you to hit someone in your blind spot. Other drivers think they shoulder check correctly – but they don’t. Some drivers give a cursory glance over their shoulders without registering visual information, for example. Other drivers do a shoulder check as they’re already halfway into the other lane.
Avoid Driving in Another Driver’s Blind Spot
The most important rule of defensive driving is to treat every other driver like they’re new and stupid. That’s why you should avoid driving in another driver’s blind spot: assume the other driver isn’t going to check the blind spot and merge over to your lane without warning. If you need to drive in the lane beside someone, make sure you’re not in the blind spot just behind their rear bumper to the right or left.
Position Mirrors Correctly
It’s much easier to drive safely when you know what’s around your vehicle. Position your mirrors correctly. Position your side mirrors so you see as much of the road as possible (with your car just on the edge of the mirror or out of frame). Your rear-view mirror, meanwhile, should also show as much of the road behind your vehicle as possible. Keep your mirrors clean.
Avoid Road Rage and Control your Emotions
Many accidents are caused by road rage. Everyone gets angry when driving. However, road rage makes the situation significantly more dangerous for everyone involved. Losing your temper won’t change what happened. Maybe a car cut you off or didn’t signal properly. Don’t turn a minor inconvenience into a life-threatening situation. If the driver is driving dangerously, then report the driver to the police.
Use Turn Signals
When other drivers know where you’re going, it significantly reduces the chances of a collision. Many drivers fail to use turn signals properly. Some don’t use turn signals when changing lanes on freeways, for example. Others just forget to use turn signals. Some use turn signals too late, only activating the turn signal when they’re already making the turn. Whatever the situation may be, using turn signals is an easy way to protect everyone around you. Nobody can read your mind: use turn signals to alert other drivers to your movements.
Know How to Act a Four-Way Stop
Many collisions occur at four-way stops because drivers do not know what to do. The first vehicle that comes to a complete stop at the intersection has the right of way. If two vehicles arrive at the same time and are facing each other, then the left-turning vehicle yields to the oncoming vehicle. If two vehicles arrive at the same time and are perpendicular to each other, then the vehicle on the right has the right of way.
Stay in your Lane During a Turn
Another common issue at intersections is departing your lane. If you are in the right-most lane and making a right turn, then you must continue to be in the right-most lane after that turn. You cannot switch lanes mid-turn. This is a common source of accidents, especially with double turning lanes. Keep note of which lane you’re in and stay in that lane.
Stay Out of the Passing Lane Unless Passing
Some jurisdictions have passed laws prohibiting drivers from being in the passing lane unless passing. However, it continues to be a common problem. You should not drive slow in the passing lane. It increases the risk of an accident for everyone on the road. Yes, you might be going the speed limit, but if you’re going slower than other traffic, then you should not be in the left-most passing lane.
Use Brakes Only When Necessary
Ideally, you leave enough room between you and the driver in front to avoid sudden braking. If you need to slow down, then you can ease off the accelerator. If you need to slow down significantly, then you can use the brakes. If you brake too frequently, then it makes it difficult for cars behind you to judge speed. Cars might not know when you’re braking hard – or just riding the brakes to control your speed.
Wear a Seatbelt
Seatbelts are proven lifesavers. They work. There’s a reason every state (except New Hampshire) requires you to wear a seatbelt while driving. Seatbelts significantly reduce your chance of serious injury or death during a car accident. Instead of being flung from the vehicle and thrown 50 feet across the pavement, you’ll be left with a minor seatbelt bruise after an accident. Which would you prefer?
Avoid Distractions and Phones
Using your phone while driving is always a bad idea. It’s illegal in most states, and it’s a bad idea in all states. If you need to talk while driving, then use a voice-to-text system or hands-free system. It’s not just phones: many drivers die every year adjusting their GPS or car stereo. Some die while fixing their hair or makeup, talking to passengers, helping kids in the backseat, or engaging in other activities. Every year, thousands of people across the United States are killed by distracted drivers. Don’t be another statistic.
Follow Speed Limits
Roads have speed limits for a reason. Traffic experts set speed limits because research has suggested that speed is safe for that road. They have decided that driving faster than the posted speed limit is dangerous. When you follow the speed limit, you significantly reduce your risk of an accident. It gives you more time to stop, for example, and more time for other drivers to react.
Be Alert and Know Your Limits
Every year, thousands of Americans die because they drove while tired. Some people are “pushing through” on a long road trip, for example, fighting to get to the next stop. Others are driving after a night shift at work. Whatever the reason may be, it’s crucial to be alert and know your limits on the road. Don’t drive when you are tired or fatigued. If you are struggling to keep your eyes open, then your reaction time is slower. Studies have shown that drivers who have been awake for 18 hours straight have similar reaction times to drivers with a blood-alcohol level of 0.05. Pull over and nap at a rest area. Or, get a hotel for the night. It’s cheaper than an accident.
Adjust for Conditions
Many drivers fail to adjust for conditions and get into an accident. The speed limit on the freeway might be 70 miles per hour, but that speed limit assumes optimal driving conditions. It may not be safe to drive that speed during a blizzard or rainstorm, for example. Adjust your driving to the conditions. Prepare for weather-related effects on the road. If you’re not comfortable driving in snow, ice, or rain, then pull over or stay off the road.
Maintain your Vehicle
Many drivers get into trouble because they fail to maintain their vehicles. Simple vehicle maintenance can reduce the risk of accidents. Keep your tires inflated correctly, for example. Keep your headlights and taillights clean and operating normally and replace broken lights. Change your oil and other fluids regularly. Make sure you have enough windshield wiper fluid. A small maintenance issue could turn into a serious incident – say, if your car breaks down when you’re in the left lane of an eight-lane freeway, for example.
Look Far Ahead of your Vehicle
Anticipate problems before they occur. Look ahead of your vehicle when driving. Don’t just respond to conditions that are immediately in front of your vehicle. Scan far ahead. Look at the sides of the road for any animals that may attempt to cross. Watch for speeders or erratic drivers. Look ahead for any intersections that may require a stop or any lines of red brake lights that could indicate a traffic jam.
Position your Wheels Straight When Turning
If you are turning left across a busy intersection, then you might have to wait for oncoming traffic to clear. In this situation, you should keep your tires positioned straight forward. Only turn your wheels once you are committed to making the turn. That way, if a car bumps you from behind, that car will not push you into oncoming traffic. Or, if you inadvertently lift your foot off the brake or accelerate, you will not drift into traffic.
Consider your Surroundings Every 20 to 30 Seconds
Many defensive driving experts recommend doing a scan of your vehicle’s surroundings every 20 to 30 seconds when driving. If it’s safe to do so, then do a shoulder check on both sides even when you’re not merging, for example. If anything happens in front of your vehicle and you need to rapidly change lanes, you’ll have a good idea of what’s around your vehicle – like which lane is safe to swerve into.
Walk Around Your Vehicle Before Entering
Before entering your vehicle and driving away, do a complete walkaround. Check the side, front, and back of your vehicle. A child or a child’s toy might be there. A pet may be there. Some obstruction may be there. You might have forgotten there’s a curb in front of your vehicle in a parking lot. It only takes a few seconds to walk around your vehicle, but it can significantly reduce the risk of a horrific accident pulling out of your driveway.
Pack an Emergency Kit
If you’re driving on a long road trip or in winter conditions, then consider packing an emergency kit. Some people have an emergency kit in their vehicle at all times for any unexpected situation. That kit can include emergency blankets, hazard signs, basic car repair tools, food rations, drinking water, fresh batteries, a phone charger or fully charged phone, a road flare, and other safety tools.
Aim your Headlights Correctly
Sometimes, the headlights in a vehicle are not pointed in the optimal direction. Some new vehicles point the headlights lower than they should, for example. Or, an older vehicle may have uneven headlights. Your headlights are crucial not just for your sight – but for alerting other drivers where you are on the road as well. Visit a body shop for headlight alignment. Or, park against your garage, turn your headlights on, and adjust as needed. Make sure the headlights aren’t so high that they’re blinding oncoming traffic.
Avoid Staring at Oncoming Lights
Your visibility drops 90% at night. Your visibility will drop even further if you stare at oncoming headlights. Your eyes have grown accustomed to the soft, low light of your dashboard. Staring at oncoming headlights can temporarily blind you. Some drivers also subconsciously turn towards oncoming headlights when distracted or drowsy.
Visit an Optometrist Regularly
You might be a good driver – but that doesn’t matter if you can’t see very well. Yes, you may have had perfect vision your entire life. However, it’s still important to visit the optometrist regularly to update your prescription or verify your eye health. Some people are surprised to discover that they should have been wearing glasses for years, for example.
Use High Beams When Appropriate
Many drivers use high beams incorrectly. High beams are ideal for open roads or rural areas at night. They help you see more of your surroundings, reducing the chances of being surprised by an animal, a turn, or an obstruction. Always dim your high beams when behind another vehicle or when an oncoming vehicle is approaching.
Final Word: Safe Driving Saves Lives and Money
If every driver implemented the safe driving tips above, the world would be a much safer place
Our driving safety tips are not just proven to save money on car insurance – they’re also proven to save lives.