Safe driving habits reduce your risk of becoming involved in an auto accident. Driving defensively may also may help lower your auto insurance rates by qualifying you for a safe driver discount.
When driving defensively, there are a number of basic tips you should follow to lessen your chances of hitting or being hit by another vehicle.
Avoid driving when you're feeling tired
Your responses are slower when you're sleepy; therefore, driving when you are tired puts you at higher risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. In fact, the Automobile Association reports that some studies estimate fatigue is a factor in up to 10 percent of auto accidents. The number may be higher for accidents that occur on major highways and long distance routes. Some medications can also make you feel drowsy during the daytime and affect your ability to drive.
Operate your vehicle safely
Keep to the center of the lane so you put distance between you and the vehicles traveling in the other lanes. Use your mirrors and signals, and check for blind spots when changing lanes to avoid pulling in the path of an oncoming vehicle and causing an accident.
Don't exceed the speed limit. Driving fast slows your reaction time and takes you longer to stop if you need to avoid a collision. Slow down when you make turns, negotiate a curve in the road, or approach an entrance or exit ramp on a highway.
Try to limit driving in hazardous traffic areas, such as road construction zones, business districts, and congested traffic, that increase your chances of being in an accident.
Stop completely at stop signs and then look both ways and toward the street across from you before proceeding. Be on the alert for other drivers who run stop signs and red lights, which can cause side-impact collisions. Be careful when judging the distance and speed of oncoming vehicles as you pull from an intersection to enter traffic.
Follow the vehicle in front of you at a safe distance. Pay attention to the traffic ahead in case another vehicle suddenly brakes or slows down.
Avoid taking your attention away from your driving
It's important to concentrate on your driving and limit distractions when you are behind the wheel. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 3,154 of the traffic fatalities in 2013 involved distracted drivers.
Texting or talking on your cell phone -- even a headset cell phone -- can distract your attention. When you aren't paying attention, you can run off the road or swerve into another lane. Texting is especially dangerous when you are driving because it distracts both you visual and cognitive attention. You also have to take one hand off the steering wheel.
Kids in the back seat fighting or making a lot of noise when you are driving can also create a potentially dangerous situation since distractions of any sort can cause you to lose focus on your driving. Everyone is safer when you keep your eyes (and your attention) on the road.
Follow the law by buckling up
The simple act of wearing a seat belt saves more than 11,000 lives each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Wearing a seat belt decreases your risk of injury and helps prevent your body from being thrown forward or out of the vehicle if you are in a crash. Being buckled in can also help you avoid an accident by keeping you in place at the wheel and in control of your vehicle.
Slow down and use caution when driving in bad weather
Bridges and overpasses can be especially hazardous in wet or icy conditions. Avoid braking suddenly on a wet or slippery road. Driving more slowly in adverse weather gives you more time to brake. However, if you go into a skid, ease your foot off the gas pedal and and keep steering your vehicle in the direction you are going.Share
4 June 2015
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