Most of us have been driving for so long, we sometimes take safety for granted. Here’s a friendly reminder of mistakes to avoid and bad habits you should break:
Drivers can be distracted by a lot of things, including shaving, applying makeup, texting and talking on a cell phone. Even when you talk hands-free, the National Safety Council (NSC) warns of “inattention blindness,” where your brain absorbs only half of what’s happening on the road.
Drugs and alcohol impair your judgment and your reaction time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 30 people die in the U.S. every day due to auto accidents involving an impaired driver. If you’ve had one too many, take a taxi and never let a friend or loved one drive drunk.
Disregarding the Speed Limit
The faster you drive, the less control you have of the vehicle, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Nearly 1/3 of all motor-vehicle fatalities occurred in speed-related crashes. Know the limit and stick to it.
Ignoring the Weather
Bad weather reduces visibility and can make your vehicle harder to maneuver safely. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that almost a quarter of all U.S. traffic accidents are weather-related. Check the forecast before you head out, and program a radio station with regular weather reports on your dial. In severe storms, stay off the road until conditions improve.
Not Wearing Seat Belts
Too many of us still haven’t gotten the message. According to the IIHS, the top reasons people give for not wearing safety belts are forgetfulness, discomfort and that they’re only driving a short distance. But there’s really no excuse: safety belts reduce the risk of injury in a car crash by 50%, says the NSC.
It’s not only rude and annoying but needlessly dangerous. Tailgating another vehicle reduces your visibility and puts you in immediate peril if the vehicle in front stops or slows suddenly. Think ahead and keep a safe distance.
Chipped or dirty windshields, worn wiper blades, bald or under-inflated tires, broken lights: they’re all safety hazards or an accident waiting to happen. Give your car regular checkups to stay safe on the road.