Don’t Let A Pleasant Drive Become a Road Nightmare

It’s easy to forget how dangerous driving is. We delude ourselves, thinking it’s safe because we always wear our seatbelts and we never use our phones. That makes us safe, right? We obey the laws of the road so nothing bad is going to happen. We are responsible drivers, always taking our time and calculating each maneuver we take on the road. We’re not speed kings, changing lanes as though we are at the controls of the Millennium Falcon. We certainly would never take the risk of driving faster than the speed limit. Even if all this is true, and we doubt it is, there are still dangers on the road.

For one thing, there’s the danger of other drivers. Just because you’re driving safe, it doesn’t mean the person next to you on the highway is. They could be completely distracted while driving their car next to yours and an accident could be inevitable. They might even be high while driving. After all, pot is now legal in some states across America. It wouldn’t take much for driving high to become the new drink driving.

Then there are issues with the cars. Some are preventable while others occur completely randomly. For instance, you might blow a tyre on the road. That’s not typically something you can prevent. A nail, a loose piece of debris or a shard of glass on the highway could all be the cause.

All that said, there are ways to protect yourself on the road and make sure you are as safe as possible.

Know The Signs Of A Dangerous Driver

There are a few signs of dangerous drivers that you want to watch out for. The first is speeding. If a car is speeding down the highway, move to the slow lane and let it get as far away from you as possible. Speeding will eventually cause a crash, and you don’t want to be anywhere near a car like this when it happens. Don’t get caught up in their fury either. They might flash their lights, and this often triggers road rage. You just need to just ignore this type of behavior. These individuals are a danger to themselves and everyone else on the road.

You also need to look out for drivers that are distracted or under the influence. If a driver is distracted or under the influence, they might swerve. This could only be slight movements, or they might be crossing to the other side of the road. In this situation, you should pull back or overtake when it’s safe to do so. But remember, they probably won’t be paying attention to you. You’ll need to give them plenty of warning before performing an overtake. Also, try to watch out for erratic behavior inside the car. Anything from flailing hands to an apparent argument should be considered a warning sign of danger.

This isn’t the only issue that you need to watch out for. Some drivers are dangerous without even meaning to be. It’s best to stay away from cars with clothes hung up in the backseat. These are working professionals and have probably been on the road for hours. They could well be tired. Again, drivers who are tired do tend to swerve and will have slower reaction times.

Driving With Care And Attention

Don’t forget, your driving could also be the cause of an accident. It’s not enough to just drive safely. You need to always look ahead and notice if there are any dangers approaching on the road. For instance, you might be driving late at night. In the countryside, the danger here is that you might hit an animal that is crossing the road. What many drivers are unaware of is that there will be signs before the impact. If the animal is on the road, it will look like moving cat eye road lights, even from a hundred yards away. You might also catch the glimmer of their eyes on either side of the road if you are paying attention. This should give a cautious driver more than enough time to slow down.

Drivers should also be prepared to change their driving behavior based on different road conditions. If the road is wet or icy, drivers should be traveling at a slower speed. Although this is not required by law, it could be seen as common sense. Conditions like this make the roads far more dangerous, even for experienced drivers.

Like other drivers, you too need to be aware of distractions. Distractions are not as simple as speaking on the phone or breaking the law. Holding an engaging conversation while driving can be distracting as can talking to a child in the back seat. Researchers found that most of the distraction caused by talking on a mobile phone came from holding the conversation. This is why hands-free can still be dangerous, and you’re best to pull over to make a phone call.

Keep Your Car Road Worthy

Drivers should also know that many accidents are caused due to poor vehicle maintenance. This has been the issue in many high profile crashes. After examining the vehicles, police have found that the car which caused the accident would have failed a MOT. This is why it’s important to get your car or vehicle checked out regularly. By doing this, you should be able to prevent a maintenance issue causing an accident.

Cars, like any other item, suffer from wear and tear. The more you use them, the worse the issues become. For instance, you might find that the car you own has a problem with the brakes. It’s easy to test for this by trying an emergency stop at least once every three months. If you think that the car isn’t braking as quickly as it should, you can buy brakes to replace your existing ones. This will be the best option is the braking distance is a lot larger than it should be. In other cases, you might just need to replace the brake pads.

There are other checks you can perform as well. For instance, you can and should check the tyre pressure for your car. It’s easy to do this by giving each wheel a firm kick. If you don’t feel any give, they don’t need extra air. However, if you do, the car might be dangerous to drive. On an unrelated matter, it will also be using less fuel.

Bad Habits Die Hard

An estimated one-third of people on the road right now would fail their driving test if they had to take it again. The obvious reason for this is that once we have our license, we experience a tremendous feeling of freedom. There’s no reason to pay attention to all the rules of the road, particularly the ones that we think don’t make sense. For instance, why do you need to drive at thirty if there is no one around? The answer is because there might be a hazard that you haven’t seen. In other cases, we’ll push the boundaries of what we shouldn’t do, little by little. You might start by cutting the corner slightly on a turn. But within a few years, you’re cutting across the other side of the road because you’re so used to that same corner.

We need to make sure that we don’t develop these bad habits on the road. They could put our lives in danger as well as anyone else in the car at the time of the accident. You can even think about taking advanced driving classes. These will help you eliminate developed bad habits and learn some new skills.

Don’t Rely On Tech

Tech has improved every aspect of our lives and driving has certainly changed thanks to technology. But arguably not always for the better. For instance, you can’t always rely on your Satnav. There have been many instances where sat nav reliance has caused an accident. In some cases, the incident has been stupid where drivers have taken a road that clearly isn’t there. In other cases the sat nav has given the wrong layout of the road, causing an accident as someone has changed lanes. Therefore, you need to rely on signs and road warnings rather than just your satnav. You should also have a map in the car, just in case.

Other systems in the vehicle that are designed to prevent crashes could create one. An example of this would be the auto steering that is currently being introduced into new vehicles. This is designed to keep drivers on a steady line and brake for them when necessary. However, it’s crucial to understand this is an added precaution, not an ultimate solution. Drivers still need to keep their wits about them on the road, even with this type of tech functioning. It will be a long time before we have true, driverless cars out on the roads.

We hope you find this advice useful, using it to keep yourself and your car safe on the roads.

Emily Muelford
Emily is a British writer whose love of car culture is augmented by a fascination with both the European and American automotive markets. Her perspective is uniquely fish and chips.