Your vehicle carries more than just precious loved ones, it holds flammable materials and weighs more than 3,000 pounds. In many cases, it can kill. Understand the risks every time you get behind the wheel and more importantly, what steps you can take to stay safe.
Avoid distracted driving. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Texting, eating, and putting on makeup are just a few tasks to avoid while operating a vehicle. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Each day in the United States, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.” There are three types of distraction: visual, manual and cognitive. Minimize other activities while driving to ensure you are focused on operating your vehicle safely. Taking your eyes and mind off the road could be lethal.
Don’t speed. There are speed limits for a reason. Extensive analysis goes into assigning speed limits. Even in ideal driving conditions, things can happen quickly. A deer or other animal can dart out in front of you, another vehicle could come to an abrupt stop, and flat tires have been known to happen unexpectedly. The faster you are going, the greater your chances of collision.
Be a proactive driver. At Top Driver, we claim to teach Driver Intelligence. Proactive driving is the primary focus of the Driver Intelligence we seek to build in our students. In proactive driving, we go over S-C-C and how to apply the technique to driving. S-C-C stands for:
- Scanning – Knowing where, when and how to look 360 degrees around the vehicle for signs, signals, roadway markings, and potential hazards.
- Communication – Using various methods to notify those we share the road with of our intentions.
- Cushion of Safety – The area around the vehicle that we try to keep clear of hazards. Front of the vehicle: Maintaining Proper Following Distance of 3-5 seconds.
Perform vehicle maintenance regularly. Many drivers overlook this topic. Whether you rely on others to change your oil, replace your brake pads, etc., it’s your responsibility to ensure your vehicle is maintained properly and meets inspection standards. The best source for this material is in your vehicle’s owner’s manual. Also, be prepared for unexpected situations. Keep the following items in your vehicle: flashlight, blanket, signaling devices (triangles, flares), jumper cables, abrasive material (sand, salt, kitty litter), small snow shovel and snow brush/window scraper. Obviously, you can adjust for weather conditions. No need for a snow shovel in July.
Don’t drive impaired. There are many factors that affect drivers on the road, some things we can’t control and others we can. There is, however, one key factor that drivers can control — yourself. Do not operate a vehicle under the influence of drugs (alcohol and over the counter medications are considered drugs). Depressants, narcotics, stimulants, and hallucinogens all have the ability to alter your vision, physical responsiveness, and your thinking skills. Drugs quickly affect reaction time, coordination, and judgment. Drivers under age 21 face a license revocation in addition to the penalties that apply for DUI offenders age 21 and older. A person under age 21 convicted of DUI may be ordered by a judge, as a condition of probation or discharge, to participate in the Youthful Intoxicated Driver’s Visitation Program.
Interested in learning more from Top Driver? Click here to check out our full list of safe driving tips for adult and teen drivers!