Whether it’s a quick trip or a long family vacation, be safe out there!
Each year in the U.S., more than 32,000 people are killed in motor vehicle accidents and 2 million are injured, according to the CDC. Every time you get in a car, you are at risk. What can you do to increase your chances of a safe journey every time? The Department of Motor Vehicles provides some smart tips on driving safety. Take a few minutes to review these important guidelines. If you make it a habit to follow these rules, you will be contributing to better road safety for yourself, your passengers, and others on the road.
Rule 1: No distracted driving
From flashing billboards, to mobile phones, to noisy children in the back seat, there are many things that can distract you from paying attention to the road. Distractions like these are causing more and more accidents. To stay safer on the roads:
- Don’t look at your phone screen
- Don’t talk on a hand-held phone
- Don’t text or touch other buttons on your phone
- Don’t operate electronic devices (for example, starting up music)
- Don’t eat or drink
- Don’t reach for items
- Don’t apply makeup while driving
- Don’t hand things to children in the back
- Don’t drive if you’re overly tired
Rule 2: No drinking and driving
Everyone knows it’s illegal and dangerous to drink and drive, but the tricky thing about alcohol is that it impairs your ability to make good decisions. After a few drinks, you might think you are sober enough to drive, when in reality you are not, but your judgment is affected by the alcohol. For this reason, it’s important to plan ahead if you know you are going to be drinking. Plan for a designated driver who is not drinking at all. Or call a ridesharing service or taxi. With the availability of a rideshare service at your fingertips, there is no reason to risk it!
Rule 3: Be careful of bikers and pedestrians
As a driver, you have to share the road with other drivers, as well as with walkers, runners, bikers, and road workers. Pay careful attention when backing out of parking spaces and driveways. Be extra vigilant at crosswalks. Give bikers and road workers a wide area when passing them. Always keep your eyes open for young children who may dart into the road.
Rule 4: Use seat belts and car seats correctly
Safety belts and car seats have dramatically cut the rates of fatalities on the roads. But they only work if you use them. Be sure everyone in your car is wearing their seatbelts. And for children, make sure they are in the back seat, correctly buckled into their car seats or booster seats. To learn more about car seat safety, see the DMV’s website.
Rule 5: Drive at a safe distance
Driving too closely to the car in front of you is unsafe. If you drive too closely, you will not have enough time and distance to stop in an emergency. To determine a safe distance, use the 3-second rule. To do this, focus on a still object, like a road sign. When the car in front of you goes past the sign, begin counting. You should count 3 full seconds before you reach the sign. If you reach the sign before 3 seconds, then you are following too closely.
Rule 6: Pass, change lanes, and merge carefully
On a busy highway, accidents can occur during lane shifts, passing, and merging. Here are some tips to follow for safety:
- Allow people to merge by slowing down to let them in, or if it is safe, change lanes to let them in.
- Always use your turn signal when changing lanes.
- Use the left lane for passing, and then return to the right lane after you have passed the car.
- Don’t pass on the right.
- Try to go with the flow of traffic to avoid unnecessary lane changes.
Rule 7: Follow the speed limit
Speed limits are set for your safety. Driving too fast can endanger yourself and others around you. Driving too slowly can interfere with the flow of traffic. Do your best to stick with the posted speed limit while still staying with the flow of traffic.
Rule 8: Use turn signals
Turn signals are important tools that allow us to communicate with other drivers. Be sure to use them so that other drivers know what you are planning to do.
Now that you’ve refreshed yourself on these driving tips, you should be more prepared to take your next road trip. Remember, getting there safely is the most important thing!
The Harris Casel Institute in Melbourne, Florida wishes safe travels to all its students. Find out about how you can enroll in a healthcare training program at Harris Casel!