Everyone has heard “drive safe” at some point in their life – whether from a loved one, a driving instructor, or signs on the roadway. Driving safe means more than wearing your seat belt or not driving under the influence. As we spend more time on the roadways behind the wheel of our vehicles, often times, we forget little things about driving safely. We may speed up a little because we are running late or follow too closely behind the car in front of us during heavy traffic. Comfort behind the wheel can lead to costly mistakes, so here are some “reminders” about safe driving that you may have forgotten since your permit driving days.
- Know your car’s blind spots. Many avoidable car crashes occur when individuals are changing lanes. It can be easy to miss another vehicle in another lane or attempting to change lanes as well if you don’t check your blind spots and rely on your vehicle’s mirrors only.
- Check around your vehicle. Did you know that 25% of collision claims are when a driver is backing up? Before getting into your car, visually glance around the area. Check for pedestrians and other people getting into their car. You want to make sure that when you back up, that the pedestrians are clear of your vehicle and other drivers are not attempting to back up at the same time as you.
- Put the device down. It really can wait – we used to do it all the time before the age of cell phones. Using a cell phone while driving can reduce your reaction time by 20%. According to the National Safety Council, using a cell phone while driving accounts for 1.6 million crashes every year and 1 in four car crashes are the result of texting while driving.
- Lights On. Hazards Off. In poor weather conditions, like the frequent rains for Florida, remember to increase your following distance behind the car in front of you. Wet roads mean it will take longer for you to stop if the car in front of you brakes unexpectedly – be sure to leave yourself the room to stop safely. Also, make sure your headlights are on to increase your vehicle’s visibility and improve what you see in front of you during the rain – but keep your hazard lights OFF. Not only is it the law, it is a very important safety rule. Hazards are designed for vehicles that are stopped on the roadway or on the shoulder to improve their visibility to other drivers in order to prevent a rear-end collision. Hazards are not designed to be on while driving since it may confuse drivers around you. The only exception for hazards to be on while driving is for vehicles in a funeral procession.
- Be prepared for anything. You can’t assume that everyone is a good driver. Keep in mind that the drivers in front of you and all around you may be distracted by their cell phone or passengers. Be prepared to drive defensively in the event someone breaks suddenly, makes a sudden lane change, or makes a sudden turn without signaling. Check your mirrors and keep an eye on what is happening 50-100 yards in front of your car.