Millions of people traverse the nation’s roadways each day, so it is important to keep the roads as safe as possible for all travelers. Fortunately, with the help of modern safety features and proper driving precautions, many accidents are preventable. Here are a few ways to practice safe driving next time you are on the road.
1. Buckle Up
The seat belt is one of the oldest safety features; yet, it remains one of the most essential. The CDC estimates that among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by approximately 45% and decrease the risk of serious injury by 50%. Thanks to increased enforcement of seat belt laws and vehicle features that alert the driver if seat belts are not buckled, an increasing number of drivers and passengers are consistently wearing their seatbelts. Nonetheless, the ultimate goal remains to get 100% of riders to buckle up. Wearing a seat belt is one of the simplest and most effective ways of protecting yourself in the event of a crash.
2. Stay Alert
While seat belt use may be on the rise, unfortunately, so is distracted driving. The proliferation of cell phones had led to a new and dangerous form of distraction. In a recent survey, over half of drivers admitted to checking social media while driving, and 25% have recorded a video while behind the wheel. Eliminating distracted driving is a key step needed to make our roads safe. Although using apps is one of the most common forms of distracted driving, even things like checking on a child or pet, talking on the phone, or browsing music can divert your attention away from the road. Always remember that it only takes a split second for a road situation to change. Your vehicle could drift out of the lane, a car could suddenly brake in front of you, or a child could run into the street. Keep yourself and those around you safe by always paying attention.
3. Mind the Weather
Just because the speed limit is 65 mph on a clear day does not mean that same speed is appropriate for bad weather. Slow down if roads are slick or visibility is limited. Braking sharply on wet roads can lead to hydroplaning. To avoid this situation, anticipate sharp curves ahead of time and keep extra distance behind the vehicle in front of you. The most important thing is to drive at a speed where you comfortably have control of your car, even if this means moving a little slower. However, if possible, try to match the speed of nearby traffic so that you are not driving excessively fast or too slowly, as this speed differential may create a hazard for other drivers.
Even on a sunny day, you must still take extra precautions when there are strong winds. Always maintain a firm grip on the wheel, and make sure to pass with care. Larger vehicles like trucks may be easily buffeted by gusts and drift out of their lanes.
Whether you personally drive often or have family and friends who are on the roads, improving road safety should be a collective concern. Every individual can immediately follow these few simple steps to potentially save lives.