When it comes to driving, there’s always room for improvement. We can all benefit from refreshing our road knowledge and reviewing the driving practices that keep us safe. After all, the best way to make our roads safer is to become better drivers ourselves. So, whether you’re just learning how to drive or you’ve been at it for a while, check out these tips to tune up your skills.
Understand Your Car’s Limits
Take some time to research the pros and cons of your vehicle so you can drive more efficiently and avoid getting yourself into dangerous situations. For example, because Ford Mustangs are designed to provide an entertaining driving experience, people often drive them carelessly at high speeds and increase the risk of an accident occurring. While Mustangs tend to guzzle gas, recent models have an independent rear suspension to keep the car stable on uneven surfaces. On the other hand, Jeep Wranglers have less-than-ideal aerodynamics and slower steering, so they tend not to be the best vehicle selection for those long road trips. However, Jeeps are great for driving in inclement weather conditions.
Check Your Hand Position
Exactly where you grip the steering wheel may seem irrelevant to your safety on the road, but incorrect hand positioning leads to inefficient steering techniques—one of the main driver errors that cause accidents. Keep your hands at nine and three for the optimal combination of control and safety. Use your fingers to turn the wheel, and never grip it from the inside. Correct hand placement on the wheel will also keep your arms out of the airbag path.
Keep a Safe Following Distance
Following a vehicle at a safe distance is essential for stopping safely if something happens on the road up ahead. Smart Motorist recommends staying two full seconds behind the car in front of you under most driving conditions. If you’re driving in bad weather, consider leaving six to nine seconds of distance.
Stick to Speed Limits
Everyone knows that speeding is dangerous. However, many of us think that speeding will get us to our destinations more quickly. In reality, driving over the limit will only shave mere minutes off your commute time. So, try to slow down and stick to speed limits to reduce your likelihood of getting in an accident. By driving more slowly, you’ll also reduce strain on your car.
Put Your Phone in the Back Seat
Distracted driving causes 9 deaths every day. Any activities that take your attention away from the road can increase your risk of experiencing a crash. Some common driving distractions include texting, talking on the phone, eating, personal grooming and checking maps. If you have trouble putting the phone down, keep it in the back seat where you can’t reach it. Planning your route ahead of time can also keep you off your phone.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
As sleep deprivation becomes the norm for the busy public, it’s clear that driving while tired can be just as dangerous as drunk driving. Drowsy driving impairs our reaction times and decision-making skills. Lack of sleep, illness and certain medications can cause us to feel drowsy behind the wheel, endangering ourselves and everyone else on the road. Whenever you drive, look out for signs that you’re too drowsy to operate a vehicle—such as continuous yawning, memory lapses, or drifting out of your lane. If you ever notice these symptoms, consider calling a friend to pick you up. Alternatively, AAA recommends pulling over for a 20-minute nap to recover some energy.
Practice Driving in Tough Conditions
Although we have control over our own driving habits, we can’t do much about the weather. We can, however, learn how to drive in snow, sleet, rain, fog and wind so we can avoid accidents when the weather gets rough. Consider taking a specialty driver’s training course for bad-weather driving. These programs teach students how to maneuver in rain and navigate hills and corners in icy conditions.
You’re never too old to brush up on safe driving habits. Even if you’re a great driver, you never know how other people on the road are going to behave. Driving defensively and avoiding bad habits yourself is the best way to stay safe out there.
About the Author:
This article was contributed by the founder of DriveSafely.info, Mark Connor. Connor created DriveSafely.info after his son, who has ADHD, started driving. He hopes to raise awareness about important driving habits that can save lives by encouraging teens and adults alike to make good decisions behind the wheel.