Being a good driver is less about technical skill and more about knowing the rules of the road, obeying laws, and taking precautions. Auto accidents are not only scary and potentially harmful to you, your children, and others on the road, but they cost Americans nearly a trillion dollars a year when you factor in insurance costs, repair costs, and medical bills. Being a safe driver is being a good citizen. Here are five habits that all good drivers have.
They make sure their car is road safe.
Getting your oil changed every 3,000 miles or so and scheduling regular tune-ups are both important practices, but every month or so you should perform some simple safety checks to ensure your car is road-ready. You should make sure your headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals are all functioning properly. On top of that, you should check your tire pressure on a regular basis. There are few things more dangerous on the highway than a tire blowout, caused by improper inflation. Here are some tips for proper tire inflation.
They pull over before doing anything other than driving.
Distracted driving plays a part in a majority of auto accidents. Make no mistake, you are distracted when your eyes, hands, or brain is focusing on anything other than driving. It’s not just about texting and driving. Changing your Spotify playlist, turning around to discipline kids, eating a sandwich, and putting on lipstick are all distracting to any driver. Good drivers make a habit of pulling over before attending to anything in their car that isn’t driving-related.
They put a buffer between themselves and other cars.
Bad drivers tailgate. Good drivers put at least a three-second buffer between them and the car in front of them (if the car in front of you were to stop, it would take you three seconds to catch up to them). You should increase this to at least five or six seconds of buffer time in inclement weather. Having enough stopping time is vital for avoiding accidents. This also, in turn, means teaching them the importance of following the speed limit and slowing down in traffic.
If you’re having trouble getting your teenager to understand the importance of slowing down and giving the person in front of them a little distance when they’re on the road, discuss how their auto insurance premiums will increase if they are labeled as a “high risk” driver. Let them know that if this happens, they will need to pay for the insurance out of their own pocket, which is often enough to get most teenagers to listen to reason!
They practice defensive driving.
Defensive driving is not timid driving. The latter means you don’t make decisive driving decisions, and this indecisiveness can be dangerous. Defensive driving means that you are constantly on the lookout for what other drivers are doing, and thinking about circumstances that could arise. If you’re approaching a crowded intersection, slowing down to make sure someone isn’t going to cut you off instead of speeding through the green light at normal speed — that’s an example of defensive driving. Changing lanes away from a stopped car on the highway — that’s defensive driving. You can’t always count on other drivers to be as mindful and aware as you are. That’s the philosophy behind defensive driving.
They never drive when their vision is impaired – even a little bit.
People who drive with any sort of impaired visibility are just asking for trouble. You may think you can handle it, and you may be able to handle normal driving circumstances. But if anything happens out of the ordinary while you’re driving with limited visibility — it could spell disaster. Here’s a brief list of times you shouldn’t drive: before your windows have fully defrosted in the winter; if it’s raining too hard for your wipers to keep up; if you’re driving directly into the sun and can’t block it with sunglasses or your visor; and if you forgot your glasses or lost a contact.
You can’t always predict what will happen on the road. You can, however, practice safe driving habits at all times, which will help reduce your risk of accidents even if the unexpected occurs. These are also great habits to instill in your college-bound kids before they drive cross-country to school.