Driving Tips Based on NHTSA Statistics
- Forget drunk driving
Every hour a person is killed in an alcohol-related car crash in the USA and about 13,000 lives are claimed annually, 181 of them being minors. That’s why staying sober is a key to safe driving, since BAC of even 0.02% results in declined visual functions and impaired concentration.
- Avoid driving distractions
Almost 3,500 fatalities were caused by distracted driving in 2015, and about 400,000 people were injured. This is an exhaustive explanation for why tips on safe driving often mention such seemingly harmless activities as texting, talking on cell phones or with passengers, eating or tuning stereo systems.
- Don’t fall asleep when behind the wheel
Crashes related to drowsy driving claim almost 900 lives yearly, while their total number amounts up to 83,000 road traffic accidents. According to NHTSA statistics, the risk of falling asleep while driving is higher between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Just have a good night’s sleep before driving in these critical hours and keep off the road every time you feel drowsy.
- Drive safe with your seat belts fastened
Seat belts save about 14,000 people each year, but there could have been almost 3,000 additional lives saved, if they had worn their seat belts. Make sure that you and your passengers buckle up properly – your seat belt must sweep across the pelvis and rib cage, while staying away from the neck.
- Stick to speed limits
Choosing speed wisely is always among top car safety tips, but speeding still kills more than 9,500 people annually. Keep in mind that even staying within speed limits, you need to take into account the existing road and weather conditions, so avoid aggressive driving behavior even if traffic signs allow for a higher speed.
- Drugs are not a good choice for driving safely
Yes, in some states the laws allow you to use marijuana and prescription drugs and 20% Americans are involved in drugged driving. Statistics show that 25% of them are more likely to get into a road traffic accident compared to those drivers who don’t use even legal drugs. Drugged driving is risky driving, so you’d better steer clear of it.
General Driving Tips Based on Real-Life Practice
- Think fool-proof
You can completely obey the traffic law and drive safely, but this doesn’t mean that all drivers do the same thing. There are aggressive drivers, drunk drivers and just inattentive drivers, so you cannot rely on their adequate reaction when performing various maneuvers. When passing other vehicles, turning or changing lanes, make sure that you have enough time and space to respond to inadequate actions of other road users.
- Watch for turn signals
Yes, you have already learned it from your driver’s handbook, but our vehicle safety tips touch upon some unobvious aspects, such as false use of turn signals. Other drivers can turn on the signal too early or forget to turn it off, so you mustn’t take it for granted that the vehicle ahead of you is really going to turn.
- Maintain a safe distance
Don’t get too close to a vehicle in front of your car, even if you are quite sure that your brakes are super sharp. There can be a vehicle behind your car and you have no idea how sharp its brakes are or how experienced the driver is. Besides, the vehicle ahead can give a jerk backward, so allow it to have some space for an unexpected maneuver.
- Don’t try to fool traffic lights
It is one of the obvious safe driving tips, but nevertheless – always slow down when approaching traffic lights and never try to enter intersections when the signals change. A few "lost" seconds at the traffic lights can save you a bunch of money in tickets, while haste can cost your life.
- Avoid large vehicles
When you drive behind a full-size car or a bus, this reduces your vision significantly and you cannot control what is going on ahead. For safe maneuvering, e.g., overtaking, you need to observe three cars ahead to have appropriate control over the situation. That’s why you should be extremely careful when following large-size vehicles and keep away from them whenever possible.
- Use your ears
Try to keep your side window open or at least slightly open to hear sounds from the outside. This will allow you to significantly reduce the risk of an accident, since you will be able to both observe and hear what is happening on the road.
Brief Defensive Driving Safety Course
- Stay alert
Do you know that a significant number of road accidents happens in a drivers’ neighborhood? Since drivers get used to driving around their homes, they lose the alertness amid familiar surroundings and tend to make silly mistakes. Do focus on driving and stay alert, even if you drive to a neighboring supermarket.
- Give way
If you are not quite sure who has the right of way, let another driver pass, while accompanying your decision with gestures or signals to make sure there is no misunderstanding. Let an aggressive driver ride first, even if you are sure that the right of way is yours since we are talking about defensive driving, not traffic rules.
- Purchase and use equipment for both passive and active car safety
ABS, airbags, child safety seats and other pieces of equipment are specifically designed and tested to make your trips safer. If your car is not properly equipped, purchase additional safety options. And make sure to use them properly, even if this causes some inconvenience.
No, this doesn’t mean that you may ease control over a driving situation. Safe driving is not about traffic rules, but about your state of mind. Don’t freak out while being stuck in traffic jams, don’t pick a fight with other drivers or pedestrians and even put out of your head all irritating things, which are not associated with driving – stay cool and calm to avoid stupid mistakes made in anger.
- Look ahead
Many drivers look forward just for 5-8 seconds, instead of the recommended 15-20 seconds. This gives enough time to recognize a potential threat and to make sure it will not turn into a real problem. Looking ahead for a little bit longer, you will be able to notice road work, traffic jams or signs, instructing you to change a lane well ahead of your car. Use your side vision to catch more of driving situation.
- Create an open space
Provide your own safety by actively creating an open space around your car. Do not let other drivers limit your freedom of movement. The abundance of free space gives extra time and helps to avoid collisions. Keep a distance of at least two seconds between your car and the vehicle ahead of you. Avoid staying in blind spots and don’t let other cars get too close to you – change the lane or choose another speed.
- Let them know
Use your lights and sound signals to let others know that you are there. If you make eye contact with another driver, it is rather unlikely that he will move across or make other aggressive action. Use your turn signals, brake lights, headlamps to make yourself visible to other drivers, even if this is not required by traffic rules.
- Stay predictable
Plan your actions in advance and show your intentions properly. Don’t wait until the last second to use your turn signals or don’t change lanes suddenly – safe driving doesn’t like surprises.
- Watch for blind spots
Check rear view mirrors every 5-8 seconds and don’t hesitate to look over your shoulder again and again. Prior to starting your car, make sure there are no kids playing near it.
- Monitor your tire condition
Sure, you need to maintain all parts of your vehicle in good working order, but tires don’t need professional diagnostics. Just check the pressure and tread pattern regularly to avoid decreased handling, braking, and traction.
Take advantage of our driving safety tips and obey traffic rules to drive happily ever after!