Before hitting the road this holiday, check out our top ten driving safety tips
As we approach the long Independence Day holiday weekend, it’s a great time to review our ten driving safety tips before you head out with the family on the open road. Even if you are a skilled, experienced, and safe driver, reviewing these safety tips keeps in mind that a little bit of care and caution go a long way when you travel.
Top Ten Driving Safety Tips
As a responsible driver, safety needs to be the priority on your top-of-mind awareness radar. Operating a motorized vehicle is something we take for granted in our fast-paced, hurry-up world. But even though life moves fast, you have a responsibility to keep your passengers, other drivers, and yourself out of an unfortunate incident. You can do your part to avoid traffic accidents by following these commonsense tips.
Tip 1: Do Not Drive Distracted
Driving must maintain your full attention. Multi-tasking is a buzzword we frequently hear today. But multi-tasking behind the wheel is a no-go. Distracted driving consists of any activity that removes your attention from safe driving, including attempts at multi-tasking.
• talking or texting on your phone
• interacting with passengers in your vehicle
• adjusting the entertainment or navigation system
• eating and drinking.
Out of all of these actions, texting is the worst distraction. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. At 55 mph, that is the same as driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed. In 2018, 2,841 people lost their lives in accidents due to distracting driving. Is sending that text worth the risk and adding to that grave statistic? No, we certainly don’t think so.
Tip 2: Never Drive Under the Influence
If you have been drinking alcohol, taking certain types of prescriptions or non-prescription drugs, or using marijuana, it is essential not to operate a vehicle.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in 2016, 28% of all traffic-related deaths in the United States were from people dying in alcohol-impaired crashes. Regarding drugs, legal (and illegal) drugs are involved in about 16% of motor vehicle crashes. And, with marijuana use on the rise, marijuana users were about 25% more likely to be involved in a crash than drivers with no evidence of marijuana use.
Tip 3: Wear Your Seat Belt
Wearing your seat belt is essential for safety.
In the state of Michigan, we have a primary seat belt law. What does this mean? Michigan law enforcement can stop drivers and their passengers solely for not being buckled up and issue tickets for the infraction. Drivers and front-seat passengers must always use their seat belts.
Also, passengers 8 to 15 years old must use their seat belt, regardless of where they sit in the vehicle. Children younger than age four must securely ride in a car seat. Additionally, children ages four to eight years old must be properly buckled in a car seat or booster seat until they are eight years old or 4-feet-9-inches tall (whichever comes first).
Tip 4: Follow Posted Speed Limits
Although it is tempting to push the speed limit to arrive at your destination sooner, it’s important to always stick to the posted speed limit.
Speed limits, established after careful consideration has been given to the road at hand, undergo a detailed process. Traffic engineers choose a design speed in the planning stages. The engineers then evaluate the operating speed for the built road. They then measure the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed at which 85 percent of drivers travel at or below.
This 85th percentile speed is based on the premise that the majority of drivers choose reasonable driving speeds for given road conditions.
Tip 5: Follow the Rules of the Road
Ready for a quick refresher on simple rules of the road from your driver education days?
Here we go:
• Obey Traffic Signals — Pay close attention to traffic lights. Remember to obey traffic signs.
• Use Turn Signals — Be considerate and always use your turn signals before turning or changing lanes. Doing so makes you a predictable driver for others on the road and maximizes safety.
• Make a Complete Stop — When you approach a stop sign or red light, bring your vehicle to a complete and deliberate stop — because you never know who or what is around the corner.
• Avoid Assuming — Stop making the mistake of assuming other drivers are going to take corrective actions or do what you think they should do.
• Utilize Passing Lanes Responsibly — Be courteous and considerate of other drivers by using the left lane efficiently. The passing lane is not your driving lane. It’s dangerous and can lead to an accident.
Tip 6: Exercise Patience
Even if you happen to be running late or getting stressed out in traffic, be mindful and patient. Many accidents are caused by drivers rushing.
The better choice: simply look ahead, allow more time for lane changes, be mindful of pedestrians or bicyclists, and realize that all the rushing in the world will not make a bit of difference in the grand scheme of your trip.
Think of it this way: if you are involved in an accident, you will arrive at your destination much later than if you were patient in the first place!
Tip 7: Adjust for Weather
While we can hope for beautiful driving weather with dry road conditions, a good driver remains prepared for any circumstances. So, when you encounter rain, fog, or snow, remember the following:
• Slow down below posted speeds.
• Turn on headlights – during daytime hours, in the rain, or fog. Your vehicle’s headlights always allow other drivers to see your vehicle.
• Increase your following distance to 4 seconds or more.
• Avoid puddles on the road.
Tip 8: Respect Stopped Vehicles
You see another vehicle, stopped on the road’s shoulder. Move over to get out of the way. Change lanes, if possible. If you can’t change lanes, then slow down for safety’s sake.
Tip 9: Share the Road
Remember that you are not the only driver, and all of us need to share the road with others. All drivers should be treated with respect. When other drivers have the right-of-way, be sure to yield to them.
And, regardless of who has the right to continue through an intersection, if it seems the other driver won’t be following the rules, play it safe and yield.
Additionally, be on the lookout for motorcyclists and bicyclists. Pedestrians have rights as well. Always slow down and be prepared to yield to pedestrians when they are in a crosswalk.
Tip 10: Take Care of Your Vehicle
Although mechanical things can malfunction when driving, ensure your vehicle maintains a good working order before that road trip. This means:
• Replace windshield wiper blades at regular intervals
• Top off windshield wiper fluid
• Confirm all exterior lights are in working order
• Check tire pressure
• Have regularly scheduled maintenance, such as oil changes, performed on the manufacturer’s recommended schedule.
When you keep these driving safety tips in mind, you and your passengers will have a better chance of arriving at your destination safely. Now, enjoy your northern Michigan getaway or your fun-filled cross-country adventure. Enjoy good times, plus make happy memories!