Today, people drive safe cars on safe roads. Several years of public information campaigns and advertisements have made most people safer drivers. As a result, this has resulted in a decrease in accident fatality rate.
Nevertheless, despite this progress, the number of accidents and fatalities worldwide is still quite staggering. As a matter of fact, automobile accidents are still the leading cause of death for individuals aged between 3 and 34 in the world.
Technological improvements will continue to help in bringing those numbers down. However, the bottom line here remains that most accidents are a result of human errors. As such, the best way to reduce the risks of being involved in accidents is by practicing safe driving behaviors.
Whether you are just learning to drive or you have been behind the wheel for some years now, it is a good idea to review the basic rules for safe driving. Below is a comprehensive list of 7 safe driving tips:
1. Don’t Drive Drunk
More than 30% of all auto accident fatalities in the world involve drivers who are impaired by alcohol. Such accidents usually lead to most deaths on the roads. Most of these deaths could have been avoided if the drivers involved hadn’t gotten behind the wheel when drunk.
Alcohol causes several impairments that lead to accidents.
Even at a low blood-alcohol level, intoxication reduces coordination and reaction time. It also lowers inhibitions, which might cause drivers to make foolish decisions. At high levels, alcohol causes double or blurred vision and at times loss of consciousness. Drunk driving is not just a terrible idea but it’s a crime.
2. Don’t Speed
As most old public service campaign succinctly put it, “Speed kills.” Researches have shown that for every mile per hour (mph) you drive, the possibility of you being in an accident increases by 4-5% percent. At much higher speeds, the risk increases more quickly.
Speeding is among the most prevalent factors that contribute to traffic crashes. For your average drives across town, driving even 16.1 kph faster is only going to save you few minutes while increasing the crash risk by as much as 50%. Even on the long trips, the time that you’ll save is inconsequential as compared to the risks that are associated with speeding.
3. Don’t Drive Drowsy
Researches have shown that 20% of all accidents usually have sleepiness as one of the contributing factors. If the driver is tired enough to literally fall asleep while driving, then the results are quite predictable. Even on a fairly straight highway, a sleeping driver shall eventually drift off the roads. Trees, ravines, bridge abutments and utility poles turn this into a very deadly scenario — and that does not even take the other cars into account.
You might think that a few yawns are nothing big to worry about. However, just being a little bit drowsy is enough to increase your risks of getting into an accident. The responses can range from dozing off for few seconds at a time to “zoning out” and losing focus on the roads. At highway speeds, 1 or 2 seconds of inattention might just lead to disaster.
4. Wear Your Seat Belt
Seat belts usually save lives. When worn properly, they will prevent you from getting thrown around the inside a crashing vehicle or being thrown through the windshield and getting flung completely out of your vehicle. Statistics reveal that more than half of the accident fatalities happen to people who aren’t using seat belts. The numbers are much more scarier for young passengers and drivers: A staggering 70% of fatal crash victims aged between 13 and 15 weren’t wearing the seat belts.
Everyone has heard about horror stories of people who were killed in bizarre accidents in which they would have lived if they had only been wearing a seat belt. As a matter of fact, in the overwhelming majority of crashes, people have greater chances of surviving when wearing a seat belt.
5. Be Extra Careful in Bad Weather
If you are driving through heavy rain, fog, a snow storm or even on icy roads, always be extra cautious. Take all the other tips presented in this and make good use of them: Drive below the speed limit, maintain extra space in between you and the cars ahead, and be careful around curves. If you are driving through weather conditions that you don’t know quite well, consider delegating the driving duties to someone who knows the area quite well, if possible. If the weather becomes worsens, just ensure that you find a safe place to wait for it to improve.
You should also know how to turn on fog lights in case the weather becomes foggy
If you are experiencing bad visibility, either from snow or fog, and you end up off the roadside (intentionally or otherwise), turn off the lights. Drivers who cannot see the road shall be looking for other vehicles to follow along the highway.
When they see your lights, they will drive toward you and they might not realize that you are not moving in time so as to avoid a collision.
6. Don’t Follow Too Closely
Safe driving guidelines always advise drivers to maintain a safe distance between themselves and cars ahead. Drivers need adequate time to react just in case that car makes a sudden stop or turn. It can be a bit difficult to estimate the recommended distance while driving and the precise distance would have to be adjusted. As such, most experts recommend the “3-second rule.”
The 3-second rule is quite simple. Find any stationary object on the roadside. When the vehicle ahead of you passes, start counting seconds. At least 3 seconds should pass before your vehicle passes the same object. Once you’ve got some driving experience and you have practiced keeping the minimum distance, you will develop an instinct for it and know well how close to follow cars without having to count.
7. Keep Your Vehicle Safe
Vehicle maintenance is not just an important way for extending your car’s life but it’s an important safety issue. Many vehicle maintenance issues are usually addressed by the state mandated vehicle inspections. In case your car is unsafe for use on the road, the inspecting mechanic shall let you know what you have to do so as to fix it. However, there could be one year or more between the inspections, so vehicle owners need to be aware of all potential safety issues and then get them repaired before they result into an accident.
One of the common maintenance problems that might lead to an accident is improper tire pressure. Too high/low pressure or uneven pressure can impact performance or even lead to a blowout more so in high-performance cars or the heavy vehicles such as SUVs.
Another important area is the vehicle’s brakes. In case you notice some “softness” within the brake pedal, or when you feel a vibration when brakes are applied, you should get them checked out by professional mechanics. The brakes might be wearing out or you could be having a problem with the vehicle’s hydraulic system.
Road safety is very important, so that drivers use roads cautiously and safely to help keep themselves, motorists, pedestrians and passengers safe. Traffic accidents are main cause of injury in many countries, but they can actually be avoided by following the above safe driving tips.