The Holiday season brings a time of reflection when people think about what they are grateful for and revaluate personal habits that may need adjustment for the start of a new year.
During this time, it is good to ponder your defensive driving habits. You may stop reading now, because you’re thinking “I’m good. I don’t touch my cell phone at all when I drive- so I’m not distracted, therefore I’m a defensive driver.” Not using a cell phone while behind the wheel is an excellent habit (keep up the good work!) there are other safe driving factors to consider.
While there are many more than 10 safe practices for you to follow as a driver, we’ve compiled a list of 10 that can help you do a self-check to see if you have laid good groundwork for safe driving practices for now and into the new year.
1.Never Drive impaired – You know the rules, you should never drive if you’ve had alcohol or if you’re on prescription drugs that impair your abilities. But driving impaired also includes being tired or ill, with the flu season in full swing, you may not be 100% alert if your body is fighting a virus. If you’re not feeling quite right, don’t get behind the wheel and put yourself and others on the road at risk.
2.Observe the speed limit- Speed limits are set for a specific reason, which is to keep you safe! They are not set as an suggestion, rather they are set based on what traffic will bear in that given strip of highway or neighborhood. For more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities. So allow enough time for your trip and remember that these limits are for your safety – not to inconvenience you.
3.Tailgating- Avoid tailgating. The higher your speed, the more room you’ll need to stop behind the car ahead. Driving in a residential area or maybe a business district with slower driving? Still allow a good distance between vehicles for unexpected stops. The person ahead of you may be looking for a specific address or a child or pet may run out into the street.
4.Turn signals- Your vehicle turn signals are the way you communicate to those you are sharing the road with. Use turn signals even when no other vehicles are around, if you make it a habit, you’ll always remember to use them when it really counts.
5.Don’t run red lights – Even if you are the only vehicle on the roadway you are traveling on, don’t run the red light. When you are approaching a red light at an intersection, it is always best to come to a complete stop and wait for the green light. When the light changes to green, it is always best practice to check the cross traffic to be sure they are stopped. How many times have you heard someone say, “I didn’t see them coming?” You can control your driving practices to be safe, but you never know if the other driver follows the same practice.
6.Avoid all distractions- It’s not just your cell phone that can serve as a distraction. Whether it’s talking to passengers, adjusting the radio or GPS, or glancing in the backseat to check on children or pets, it’s all considered distractions and you need to minimize the risk by planning ahead. Set your playlist and gps before hitting the road and make sure children (and pets) are properly restrained. Also make sure they have necessary things to keep them occupied, so they don’t create a distraction. You want to be sure that everyone arrives safely to the destination.
7.Buckle up – In NY it is the law, but it is more than just a law, it’s the law because it can be life saving for you and your passengers. Backseat passenger need to buckle up as well, as ANY un restrained passenger can become a projectile in a crash. This leads to safety tip #8-
8.Secure your passengers – Before starting the car, be sure that all passengers are buckled up. Properly secure young children in the appropriate car seat for their size and age and make sure they are properly installed. Visit a car seat inspection site in your area, find a location by typing in your zip code HERE
9.Vehicle Maintenance-Take care of your vehicle so you can rely on it to perform as expected. Routine and regular maintenance is needed, (including checking your tires!) in order to be a responsible driver.
10.The Bottom Line: Be alert at all times. In short, as a driver you need to make sure you are alert to what other vehicles around you are always doing.
If everyone takes a few more safety precautions when they get behind the wheel, it can lead to safer roadways for everyone. Let’s start the new year safer than ever, Happy 2020!