Pikeville Police Department
Protecting and Enhancing Small Town Life
safe driving tips
Safe Driving Tips
For roads to remain safe, there are essential driving habits to ensure responsible driving. The United States loses approximately 33,000 lives to motor vehicle accidents every year. Motor vehicle crashes also leave more than 6,300 people injured daily.
It is important to note that human error is the leading cause of most crashes, and all drivers can avoid these crashes through safe driving. Simple mistakes like lack of focus and inadequate surveillance can cause severe injuries and even death
The Pikeville Police Department offers the following Safe Driving Tips (provided by DefensiveDriving.org) as a way to Save Lives. By following these Safe Driving Tips, we can Save Lives and Keep Our Roads Safe.
Impact of Drunk Driving
We all know that drunk driving is dangerous, and most people would agree that it’s a good idea to avoid driving drunk. But even with this knowledge, people drive drunk nearly 300,000 times per day, and nearly 4,000 people are arrested for drunk driving every day. You’ve certainly heard that drunk driving can be deadly and that DUIs are expensive, but do you know drunk driving’s true impact? We’ll examine fatal accidents at the hands of drunk drivers, some of the consequences of drunk driving, and how you can take steps to avoid drunk driving yourself — and possibly save your life and that of others.
Just How Dangerous is Drunk Driving, Really? A few drinks and a quick trip home won’t kill you, will it? You might feel like luck is on your side, but the reality is that drunk driving and impaired driving kill nearly 30 Americans every day, or one death every 51 minutes. Consider these Drunk Driving Statistics to put its danger into perspective:
- More than 11,654 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2020 (CDC)
- Nearly four of those drunk driving fatalities include a teenage driver (DFW)
- Alcohol-impaired driving crashes account for 30% (nearly one-third) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States (CDC)
- The average person will metabolize about one drink per hour. A standard drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits. All contain the same amount of alcohol. (MSU)
- 21% of children killed in motor vehicle accidents occurred in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, and over half of those children were occupants in the car with a drunk driver (NHTSA)
- Drunk drivers are more likely to die in a fatal crash involving alcohol than passengers in their vehicle, occupants of other vehicles, and non-occupants combined. Drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher make up 67% of total drunk driving fatalities (NHTSA)
Are Just A Few Drinks OK? Consider this: the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes is nearly identical for those at .02 blood alcohol content and those at .26. Even drivers with just a .01 blood alcohol content are killed in more than 200 drunk driving crashes each year. Drivers with a level of .16 die in the most fatal crashes each year, nearly 550 annually.
Alcohol impairment, even at a low level, has serious effects on your ability to drive. The typical effects of alcohol on your driving abilities include:
- the decline in visual functions, including tracking of moving objects
- the decline in the ability to multitask
- loss of muscle control
- loss of judgement
- altered mood
- difficulty steering
- lowered alertness
- poor muscle coordination
- memory impairment
- lowered speed control
- impaired perception
- impaired concentration
- lowered reaction time and control
- lowered ability to maintain position and braking
- loss of balance
The Expense of a DUI – Drink driving fatalities are frightening enough, but for drunk drivers who don’t die but are rather pulled over, it’s not necessarily a happy story. The financial cost of a DUI is estimated to be at least $10,000 just for costs associated with a DUI arrest, legal fees, and alcohol education. Plus, some estimates indicate that you’ll pay a whopping $40,000 more for your auto insurncae premiums over 13 years following a DUI conviction. Of course these expenses don’t include the potential in property damage, possible job loss, stress on relationships, injury, and loss of freedom. And that’s if no one is killed or seriously injured by your drunk driving accident. Drunk driving is costly, even if you’re not facing a DUI. According to the NHTSA, the estimated economic cost of alcohol-impaired driving crashes in the US is $49.8 billion annually. This includes lost productivity, legal expenses, medical costs, EMS, insurance, property damage, and traffic.
How Drunk Driving Ruins Lives – There’s no question that drunk driving hurts the lives of both drunk drivers and their victims. Drivers and victims who are killed or seriously injured will be forever impacted. But even if you just end up with a DUI conviction, you’ll have serious consequences to face that may last for several months or years — or the rest of your life. Consequences of a DUI conviction include:
- criminal offense (typically a misdemeanor) on your record for the rest of your life
- loss of your license or suspension for months or longer
- the requirement that you use a breath alcohol detection device
- alcohol education classes
- alcohol addiction treatment
- community service
- possible imprisonment for a few days or even a year or longer, depending on the severity of the situation
If you’re convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide, in which a person is seriously injured or killed, you will have a felony on your record. These convictions typically come with sentences ranging from two years to a lifetime in prison. Drivers who receive a DUI spend an average of six months in jail and three years probation. DUI classes take about six months, and court cases drag on for several months. Drivers with a DUI conviction will also likely lose their license for a minimum of three months. This can cause difficulties getting to work, school, and other essential tasks. Individuals with a DUI conviction may lose their jobs or experience trouble at school. In addition to these consequences, you’ll likely have to complete an extensive drunk driving education course. These courses will typically involve education in the dangers of drunk driving and an assessment and intervention as needed. They can be very costly and time consuming. A DUI can set you up for more danger in the future as well. Drivers who have driven drunk in the past and then drive again often end up in fatal crashes. According to the CDC, drivers with a blood alcohol content of .08% or higher that were involved in fatal crashes were six times more likely to have a prior conviction for DWI than drivers with no alcohol in their system. About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drink driving are repeat offenders.
What You Can Do to Prevent Drunk Driving – Drunk Driving is often a crime individuals don’t plan to commit. They head out for a night of fun with friends and simply don’t consider what will happen when it’s time to head home. But when the bar is closed, and you’ve hit the freeway, the dangerous reality of drunk driving can come crashing down on you quickly. You can take steps to stop yourself and others from drunk driving and potentially save the lives of others — even yourself:
- Choose a designated driver: Before drinking, designate a driver who will not be drinking. You can take turns with friends so that everyone can have a night out fairly, but when it’s your turn to drive, don’t drink.
- Never let others drive drunk: Save the lives of your friends or family by not allowing them to drive drunk. Take their keys away and call them a cab, paying for it if you have to.
- Ask for a ride home, or get a cab: If you are drunk but need to get home, ask for a ride home from a friend or family member. If help isn’t available, call a cab or Uber it home. Though there is an expense involved, even a $50 cab ride home pales in comparison to the thousands spent on DUI costs, and is priceless compared to the potential of losing your life or killing someone else while driving drunk.
- Take care when hosting a party: If your hosting a party with alcohol, make sure every attendee has a safe way to get home.
What Does Defensive Driving Mean?
Driving on the road can be a stressful and anger-inducing experience. Your safety rests in the driving abilities of others on the road. When someone cuts you off or doesn’t check their blind spot, it’s easy to become stressed, scared, or furious. Your primary goal whenever you drive is to make it to your destination safely. Learning to remain calm and avoid an accident are key aspects of defensive driving. Defensive driving is a set a valuable skills that give you the ability to defend yourself while on the road. This includes avoid collisions caused by oblivious drivers, intoxicated drivers, or inclement weather.
What exactly is Defensive Driving? Do you remember the last accident or near accident you experienced while driving? If you avoided the accident, do you remember how you avoided it? Defensive driving is more than just avoiding accidents and hoping everything will turn out fine. This practice is a skillset that allows you to identify potential hazards and adapting your driving to prevent an accident. By anticipating situations, you’ll be able to act immediately to avoid a potentially hazardous accident.
The skills necessary for defensive driving are a mix of preparing, observing, and reacting appropriately. Defensive drivers follow these main practices:
- Always plan for the unexpected
- Control their speed
- Respect other drivers on the road
- Prepared to react to other drivers
- Never assume other drivers’ intentions
- Adapt driving for different road conditions
- Always alert and not distracted while driving
Unfortunately, many drivers don’t follow these simple driving practices. With today’s technology needed for everything to be fast, it’s easy for drivers to speed and drive while distracted. Defensive driving is more important than ever to ensure your driving trips are always safe.
If you’re new to defensive driving or are looking to brush up on your skills, there are a few tips you can start practicing today. Everyone at every age should always take time to improve their defensive driving skills. Here are a few tips you can follow to improve your driving today:
- Keep a Safe Distance – The ideal distance kept between cars will vary depending on your speed. The general rule is to leave a three-second gap between you and the car in front of you. To measure this gap, take note of a specific object the vehicle passes, like a tree, mailbox, or traffic sign. As they pass it, start counting the number of seconds it takes you to reach that same object. If your count is more than three seconds and you’re driving slow or below the speed limit, you can safely pick up your speed. If your count was less than three seconds, you should slow down. Those going at a slower speed will have a smaller three-second gap between vehicles. It’s easier and faster to stop a vehicle moving at a slower speed. This doesn’t mean you can push the three-second rule to one second or two seconds as this will increase your odds of getting into an accident.While traveling at a faster speed, this three-second gap should widen. Faster moving cars have more momentum and require more time to stop
- Drive at a Safe Speed – Your driving speed will affect how fast you can stop your vehicle in the event of an emergency. Your driving speed should vary based on the current road conditions. Never exceed a speed that is “reasonable and safe” even if the speed limit is higher. For example, a vehicle driving at 30 mph will need to travel about 120 feet before coming to a complete stop. This includes about 60 feet for reaction time and 50-60 feet of braking time. That same vehicle traveling at 60 mph will need 360 feet before coming to a complete stop. This includes about 130 feet of reaction time and 190 feet of braking. If it’s raining or snowing hard, you should drive at a slower speed. Be mindful of other drivers who may not have four-wheel or all-wheel driving capabilities on their car.
- Always Use Your Turn Signal – Anytime you turn or change lanes, use your turn signal. Many drivers believe their turn signal isn’t always necessary or think they can change lanes or turn without disrupting other drivers.This is not a smart way to think. Turn signals are necessary for anyone within the eyesight of your vehicle, even if you can’t see them. This doesn’t only include other drivers, but pedestrians and road cyclists as well.
- Be Observant of Your Surroundings – Always scan your surroundings while driving. You should be aware of any pedestrians or cyclists along the road, the cars in from and behind you, and what’s on either side of your vehicle. At any moment, a car may cut into your lane or a pedestrian may cross the road without looking. By using your mirrors and looking around all sides of your vehicle, you’ll be able to observe a safety margin around your vehicle. You’ll be able to view any potential accidents and react within a short amount of time. The more you’re aware of what’s around your vehicle, the safer you’ll be while driving.
- Plan Ahead – With scanning your surroundings comes planning ahead. By viewing what’s happening around your vehicle, you’ll be able to slow down and decide whether stopping will be necessary. Planning ahead also includes making evasive maneuvers. Should the vehicle in front of you get into a car accident, you can quickly decide whether changing lanes or moving over to the shoulder is the best idea. This will help you avoid the accident and keep yo and those in your vehicle safe.
- Don’t Assume Others’ Driving Intentions – Never assume a driver is going to be following the same safe-driving practices as you. Many drivers may change lanes without using their turn signal while others forget to check their blind spots. Some drivers may turn their turn signal on but not turn or turn in the opposite direction of their turn signal. Be mindful of other drivers on the road and don’t make any assumptions regarding their driving intentions.
- Keep a Safe Distance – The ideal distance kept between cars will vary depending on your speed. The general rule is to leave a three-second gap between you and the car in front of you. To measure this gap, take note of a specific object the vehicle passes, like a tree, mailbox, or traffic sign. As they pass it, start counting the number of seconds it takes you to reach that same object. If your count is more than three seconds and you’re driving slow or below the speed limit, you can safely pick up your speed. If your count was less than three seconds, you should slow down. Those going at a slower speed will have a smaller three-second gap between vehicles. It’s easier and faster to stop a vehicle moving at a slower speed. This doesn’t mean you can push the three-second rule to one second or two seconds as this will increase your odds of getting into an accident.While traveling at a faster speed, this three-second gap should widen. Faster moving cars have more momentum and require more time to stop
Guide to Defensive Driving
Who Needs Defensive Driving? The short answer: we all do. Defensive driving benefits every driver on the road. It makes our streets and highways safer with drivers who are more aware and understand defensive driving techniques that can prevent accidents. But defensive driving courses are beneficial for many drivers, including:
- new drivers
- drivers desiring ticket dismissal
- drivers with a poor driving record
- drivers that need to reduce license points
- drivers that need to reduce auto insurance rates
The Benefits of Defensive Driving – Defensive driving courses can teach you how to be more alert, aware, and safe on the road. And while they’re great for getting you out of a sticky situation on the road, they’re also useful for sticky situations with tickets, insurance, and more. On average, over 100,000 people are cited for traffic violations each day in the U.S. Many states allow people to take defensive driving courses to reduce demerit points on driving records, show driver improvement to auto insurance providers, or to avoid higher fines for infractions.
Defensive Driving Can Get You Out of a Ticket – There’s no mistaking the feeling of dread when you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. You’re getting pulled over — and probably getting a ticket. Are you a terrible driver for getting pulled over? Not necessarily. Traffic tickets happen — even to good drivers. And if you’re serious about improving your driving skills to become a more responsible driver, you can prove it by taking a defensive driving course that will help you get out of a ticket. Many states and municipalities allow drivers to take defensive driving to reduce the impact of a traffic ticket. Some options offered in your area may include taking a defensive driving course to:
- Reduce or remove the fine associated with the ticket (however, court fees may still apply, as well as the cost of the course)
- Remove the ticket from your driving record
- Avoid adding points to your license
Often, if you take a defensive driving course, it’s as if your ticket never happened — and a great way to redeem your status as a good driver. You can keep the ticket off of your record, avoid accumulating points, and even save money on the fine. Keep in mind, however, that using defensive driving courses is not a cure for every ticket. Most states will not allow frequent offenders to get out of tickets using defensive driving courses, as they may set a yearly limit on the number of tickets that can be dismissed with defensive driving.
Defensive Driving Can Reduce your License Points – It’s best to take a defensive driving course before a ticket ends up on your driving record, but if you weren’t able to, it’s not too late to keep points from accumulating on your license. In many states, defensive driving courses can still help you reduce the number of points you have. Using defensive driving courses to reduce points is a great way to improve your driving record and avoid accumulating too many points — putting you at risk for losing your driver’s license and ability to drive legally.
Defensive Driving Can Reduce Your Auto Insurance Premium – Insurance companies benefit from safe drivers, so typically, they will offer a rate discount for drivers who complete a defensive driving course. This can add up to hundreds in savings over the years. And, your insurance company may even offer a discounted rate for the course itself. Defensive driving discounts generally require that you earn a passing grade and will only apply once every few years to a single vehicle. However, you can retake the course when your discount has expired. But defensive driving courses aren’t just for preventing high insurance premiums. They can reduce your insurance rates after a ticket or accident as well. Paying fines for traffic tickets is disappointing, but often, that’s not the worst of it. Far more expensive than a $200 ticket are the higher insurance premiums that will plague you for months, even years, and can add up to thousands. Even a speeding ticket for a few miles over the speed limit or an uneventful fender bender can drive your insurance rate through the roof. By taking a defensive driving course and avoiding putting a ticket on your record, you can avoid the rate hike that typically follows.
Defensive Driving Can Save Your License – In some cases, drivers may be required by a court order to complete a defensive driving course — or risk losing their license. Often, mandatory defensive driving sentences are required for driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving. They are also common for drivers who have accumulated too many points on their driving record. For drivers plagued by serious problems, a defensive driving course can save your license — and your ability to continue to drive legally.
Defensive Driving Can Save Your Life – While some cases, drivers may be required by a court order to complete a defensive driving course — or risk losing their license. Often, mandatory defensive driving sentences are required for driving under the influence (DUI) or reckless driving. They are also common for drivers who have accumulated too many points on their driving record. For drivers plagued by serious problems, a defensive driving course can save your license — and your ability to continue to drive legally. Staying safe on the road can be difficult, but defensive driving basics are easy: pay attention to your surroundings, minimize distraction, avoid hazards, and never, ever drive impaired.
Key Defensive Driving Techniques
Every day, an average of 3,700 people die in road crashes throughout the world. In the US alone, more than 32,000 people lose their lives in motor vehicle accidents every year, with 2 million more becoming injured. The number one cause of car accidents in the US is distracted driving. This means that many of the accidents that occur every day could have been prevented if the drivers had been paying more attention to the road.
There are 10 key Defensive Driving Techniques so that you can keep yourself, your passengers, and your fellow road travelers safe:
- Always Be Prepared – When you drive frequently, it’s easy to get too casual about it. Since many of your recent driving trips have gone by without incident, it’s easy to assume that everything will be fine this time, too. However, you should never get too relaxed about what it means to be driving a vehicle on the road. You should always keep both of your hands on the steering well, sit up straight rather than slouch, keep your focus on road conditions and other vehicles, and state generally aware. Being aware in this way can allow you to see hazards from a distance. If you do see a hazard, you can take safe, preventative action to keep your current driving environment safe and avoid a collision. This might mean safely changing lanes, slowing down, or some other action.
- Stay Focused on Your Driving and the Road – One of the most important defensive driving strategies is to stay focused and avoid becoming distracted. This means you should not use your cell phone or any other type of electronic device while you are driving. To avoid the temptation to do so, put them away.This also means that you should pull over and rest if you are feeling tired. Driving when you are feeling sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving when you have had too much to drink. You also want to make sure that you don’t start daydreaming or otherwise space out when you’re driving. It’s also essential that you don’t get distracted by whatever is going on inside your car rather than paying attention to the road. It is easy to become distracted by things you see outside of your car sometimes that isn’t related to defensive driving. This might be an accident, something strange happening on the side of the road, or a funny road sign. Instead, you’ll want to stay focused and make sure you are able to stay away from other drivers you might be distracted. Lastly, don’t try and multitask when you are driving. This means you shouldn’t be putting on makeup, eating, or drinking while you’re driving. If you need to do any of these activities, pull over and take a minute to do so while you are not on the road.
- Always Keep an Eye on Your Surroundings and Scan Far Ahead – If you want to know how to become a better driver, you’ll want to learn to not just focus on the car that is right in front of you. Instead, you should be aware of your general surroundings and look further ahead for potential hazards. You should also get in the habit of using your mirrors to keep an eye out for potentially dangerous situations occurring behind you.
- Always Try to Predict a Possible Risk – Once you have learned to become more aware of your surroundings, you will then want to learn how to predict a risky situation. Then, you will need to have a plan for what type of action, if any, you should take to keep yourself safe from this potential risk.
- Stay Safely Distant From the Vehicles Around You – When you are learning how to become a defensive driver, there is a simple rule to help you understand how far back you should stay from the car in front of you. It is known as the three-second rule. This means that, based on your current speed, there should be at least three seconds of driving time between your vehicle and the vehicle that is in front of yours.There are a number of situations where you will want to leave even more space than that. These include bad traffic jams, bad road conditions, bad weather conditions, when you are behind a large truck, motorcycle, or bus, or when another vehicle is tailgating you.You also want to make sure that there is enough space between you and vehicles to your side and behind you. To keep a safe distance from vehicles beside you, be sure to drive in the center of your lane. It’s also important to understand where the blind spot of other vehicles might be and to avoid driving there. If you notice that a vehicle is tailgating you, you’ll want to switch lanes when it is safe to get away from their vehicle. If you are in a situation where you are unable to switch lanes, you can lightly on your brake so that they can become aware that you are about to slow down so they can pass. In some situations, you might not be able to change lanes or slow down. Or, unfortunately, the driver may continue to tailgate you even if you do either of these things. If this is the case, pull off the road when you find a safe opportunity to do so to allow them to pass you.
- Don’t Drive in the Blind Spot of Another Vehicle – You never want to drive in the blind spot of another vehicle. If other people are not practicing defensive driving skills, they might be distracted, forgetful, tired, or lazy and not check their blind spot before they make a lane change.
- Don’t Expect That Others Will Be Driving Carefully – When you are learning how to become a better driver, it is easy to start assuming that other drivers are also using the same caution and focus that you are applying to the task at hand. However, this is not always going to be the case.When you are driving, it is important to pay attention to the things that you are able to control. What you can control in the situation is your own driving and not anyone else’s. You therefore cannot expect them to use the same defensive driving strategies that you are using.
- Keep Your Distance From Tired, Bad or Drunk Drivers – Sometimes when you are on the road you might notice a driver that seems to be driving poorly. Maybe they are driving on the lane marker or center lane, driving too slow or too fast, drifting in and out of the lanes, or tailgating. If you notice drivers like this, it is best to safely distance yourself from them and their vehicle.
- Stay Away From Potential Road Rage Situations – When you are driving, you might notice a driver that seems upset at your driving. Perhaps they honked at you or are otherwise driving recklessly. It is important in situations like this that you don’t engage with a road-rager driver at all. This means you should even avoid making eye contact with them. Instead, you should slow down and allow them to drive away from you. It is never a good idea to try and aggravate someone who is obviously already angry, even if you feel like you’re in the right.
- Don’t Keep Changing Lanes and Signal to Others When You Are Going to Change Lanes – The risk of getting into an accident will be increased if you are constantly slipping between cars and unnecessarily changing lanes. You should, therefore, avoid doing so unless necessary.When you do need to change lanes, communicate to other drivers using turn signals, your vehicle’s lights, or hand signals. Just like you cannot read the minds of other drivers, they don’t know what you are going to do either. By using the communication tools you have, you can help keep yourself as safe as possible.
Defensive Driving: It’s Worth It! Learning defensive driving strategies can help to keep you safe while you’re on the road. Many Americans are so used to driving that it has become a fairly casual affair. However, that’s all the more reason that you should learn how to become a defensive driver, so other distracted drivers don’t jeopardize your safety or put you at risk.
Most Dangerous Driving Habits
Driving can be dangerous even if you’re a perfect driver — but who is? Even if you’re a highly skilled, experienced driver with an excellent record, you could be making dangerous mistakes on the road. And while driving, any mistake you make can turn deadly in a matter of seconds. Stay safe, and alert by avoiding these dangerous driving mistakes.
Below are the 10 Most Dangerous Driving Habits to avoid:
- Driving Under the Influence – Drunk driving kills nearly 30 Americans every day, more than once every hour. Alcohol-impaired driving crashes also cause almost a third of all traffic-related deaths. But people drive drunk nearly 300,000 times every day, and 4,000 people are arrested for drunk driving daily. There’s no question that drunk driving kills and that it’s dangerous. It’s also costly and hazardous to your freedom, with a DUI or conviction for a drunk driving death costing thousands and potentially landing you in jail for an extended period of time. To stay safe, it’s best to avoid driving under the influence at all. Choose a designated driver, ask for a ride home, get a cab, or take public transportation home.
- Texting While Driving – One in four motor vehicle crashes now involves a cell phone, and texting or using your phone can increase your risk of crashing by three times. Texting takes your attention and eyes off the road, whether you’re on the freeway or in a neighborhood. You’re more likely to hit objects, cars, or people in your way or veer dangerously off the road. Turn off your phone, store it out of reach, or simply ignore texts as they come in. Or, if you can’t wait, pull over to answer a text, then get back to driving safely with your full attention.
- Distracted Driving – Texting while driving is one form of distracted driving, but distracted driving can include many more dangerous habits, such as eating while driving, putting on makeup, daydreaming, or engaging in intense conversations. Even attending to the needs of children can be incredibly dangerous while driving. In fact, 3,154 people are killed, and 424,000 people are injured annually by distracted driving accidents. Commit to focusing on the road, and pull over if you have any pressing distractions that need your attention immediately.
- Speeding – Everyone knows this one: speeding is an obvious way to drive dangerously. It’s also a good way to end up dead on the road, as speed is a contributing factor in 26% of all fatal crashes. Speed can also make crashes more dangerous, increasing the impact and potential for injury or death. It may be tempting to get where you’re going faster, especially if you’re late. But it’s not worth the risk (or time, or hassle) of a ticket, and it’s certainly not worth your health or your life. Go with the flow and keep your speed reasonable for the traffic you’re in. You’ll be much safer if you stick to a slower speed.
- Aggressive Driving and Road Rage – Aggressive driving doesn’t just drive other drivers crazy; it can kill you, too. In 56% of fatal crashes, aggressive driving is to blame. This can include driving recklessly, improper following, erratic lane changing, or failure to observe traffic laws. Aggressive driving can also graduate into road rage, making an even more dangerous situation as drivers race, intentionally crash, or taunt each other. It can even lead to violence on the road. Even when your patience is tested, it’s safer to practice courteous driving at all times.
- Not Driving for the Weather – Posted speed limits are just that: limits. It’s the fastest you should safely be able to drive under ideal conditions. But the fact is that you won’t always be driving under ideal conditions. You may be driving in the dark, rain, snow, sleet, even ice or hail. And that can lead to slippery and dangerous conditions that make it very hazardous to stick to the speed limit. Be smart about how you’re driving, and consider whether you should slow down to stay safe during inclement weather and other driving challenges.
- Failing to Maintain Vehicles – Your vehicle is meant to last for years, but it’s not meant to run forever with no maintenance or care at all. Parts wear out; fluids get old and murky, tires and brakes wear down. These all require maintenance and replacement, and if you let them go too long, you could be facing a dangerous situation. This can include a tire blowout, engine failure, and a broken down car on the side of the road. You should follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule, stay on top of regular oil changes, and practice good tire maintenance, including regularly checking your tire pressure.
- Failure to Signal or Check Blind Spots – Changing lanes seems simple as you move from one space to another, but it can be one of the most dangerous maneuvers you make while driving. Weaving in and out of lanes, not putting your blinker on, or even worse, not checking your blind spot could result in a serious collision on the freeway or the street.
- Following Too Closely – You can typically choose how far away you are from the car in front of you. And too often, drivers choose to follow far too close. Whether you’re tailgating or simply inching up closer than you should, you’re playing a dangerous game. Get distracted for a moment, or need to stop at any moment suddenly, and you might find yourself in someone else’s backseat. It’s safest to keep two car lengths in between you and the vehicle in front of you. You should leave even more room if you’re driving during inclement weather or following a large truck.
- Not Wearing a Seatbelt – Wearing a seat belt won’t stop a crash, but if you do end up in an accident, it may save your life. Even with today’s advanced safety features, wearing a seat belt is one of the most important ways to protect yourself from serious injury or death during an auto accident. It only takes a moment to put on your seat belt and potentially save your life. Remember to use correctly installed car seats for children as well.
While driving can prove deadly or dangerous in any conditions, safe drivers avoid making hazardous mistakes like drunk driving, texting, or not wearing a seatbelt. Avoid these dangerous driving mistakes to make your next trip on the road safer.
Bad Driving Habits You Should Nip in the Bud Now
If you’ve never gotten into an accident and don’t tend to get pulled over, you might think that you’re a perfect driver. You may even get outraged at other drivers who make mistakes on the road. The thing is, most of us have a lot of bad driving habits that we’re unaware of. Those habits could be putting you in danger or putting undue stress on your vehicle. Improving your driving is possible, but you have to know what you’re doing in order to change. We’re going to take a look at a number of common bad driving habits as well as providing some defensive driving suggestions that could help you improve.
Take a look at the following examples of bad driving habits and see if they might apply to you:
- Tailgating – Many people seem not to understand the importance of keeping a safe distance. We’ve seen this overwhelmingly when it comes to social distancing, and the same thing applies to the roads. The general rule is that you should give yourself about three seconds of space from the car in front of you. You can pick a marker, wait for the car in front to pass it, and count the seconds until you reach that marker. If three seconds go by, that’s enough space. Riding the people in front of you is incredibly dangerous. It puts stress on them to speed up which jeopardizes their safety. Most importantly, though, it reduces the time you have to respond if they have to brake or swerve. Your vehicle takes a toll when you tailgate as well. Staying close behind someone requires that you brake and accelerate often, and that puts undue strain on the entire system.
- Using Your Cellphone in Any Way – Texting has long been a dangerous issue on the road. Advancements in technology have made it a lot safer to answer phone calls or send messages with your voice, but many vehicles don’t have those features. Unless your vehicle allows you to make commands in a hands-free way, you shouldn’t be using your phone while you’re driving. Peeking down to read a text, change the song, or make a call are still very dangerous. Just consider the amount of space you travel when you look at your phone for three seconds. If you’re going sixty miles per hour, you travel 264 feet in that timeframe. That’s enough space for any number of hazards to jump out in front of your car or for conditions to change and put you in danger.
- Forgetting Blind Spots – We hate to break it to you, but your vehicle has blind spots. No matter how sophisticated your car is, there’s no better safety system than your own eyes.Using your side and rear-view mirrors is essential, and your car might even alert you when there’s a car to your side. That said, you should always be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots and check them before you change lanes or merge. Sensor technology is new, and there could be bugs that fail the system from time to time and put you in danger. If you have to turn your head and peak back through your rear window to make sure you’re safe, that’s what you’ve got to do.
- Driving Drowsy – Driving while intoxicated is a massive issue, but did you know that driving while you’re tired can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Depending on how tired you are, your ability to read situations and make decisions is incredibly altered. Plus, you run the risk of falling asleep at the wheel. If you’re too tired, try to rest up before you hit the roads. You can also take some time to make coffee or drink an energy shot and see how it affects you. When all else fails and you have to get somewhere, you can ask someone to drive you or call a cab.
- Outrunning Oil Changes – Oil companies and mechanics are in cahoots and fudge the mileage for your next oil change, right? It’s true that not all cars require the same number of miles between oil changes. The standard “5,000-mile oil change” shouldn’t apply to every vehicle. You should check your owner’s manual to see just how long you have to wait before you get an oil change. That said, make sure that you actually get your oil changed at that interval. It’s a legitimately important part of keeping your car in good shape and ensuring your safety. Cars need oil like we need water, so it’s not something to forget about. If you go too far over your mileage mark, you might be facing a whole lot of repair costs.
- Basing Speed on Other Drivers – You might find yourself trying to compete with other drivers on the road, even if you’re not flagrantly speeding or racing. It’s a common thing to do. We get little grievances and frustrations with certain cars and we make slight moves to pass them or slow down to frustrate them. Similarly, we might go with the pack and decide that everyone is speeding so it must be safe to do it as well. These fluctuations in speed can be dangerous. It’s best to stick to the speed limit and allow others to pass you when you notice that they’re getting antsy behind you. If it comes to it, you can simply pull over and allow someone to go on.
- Not Balancing Tire Pressure – Many of us lose air in a tire and just fill it back up until it looks right. You wouldn’t think that this would be too big of a deal, but it turns out that it is.When tire pressure isn’t even across tires, your braking and steering mechanisms are slightly off. Your car also has to compensate for the imbalance in various ways. Those issues put a strain on your steering systems and can lead to significant issues over time. Problems with the frame and steering systems of a vehicle are costly, and they’re dangerous when issues manifest on the road.
- Leaving Your Bright Lights On – How to handle your brights is an area of driver’s education that gets touched on briefly, but it’s often forgotten. You’re driving on a dark road, there’s nobody in sight, so you flip your brights on. It’s what you have to do to increase visibility. When another car drives past you, you might forget that you have your brights on or not even think to turn them off. This can actually be dangerous. Leaving brights on interferes with the other driver’s visibility while they’re in front of you. It also takes a moment for them to adjust their eyes when they pass. So, whenever your brights are on and you notice an oncoming car in the distance, do them a favor and flip the lights off.
- Neglecting Wipers – Your windshield wipers might not get a lot of action depending on your climate.It’s important that they’re always in good shape, though. In the instance that you get splashed with some mud or it begins snowing, you’ll be in a dangerous situation if those wipers don’t work.
- Riding on an Empty Tank – When you drive while your gas tank is close to empty, the car uses fuel from the bottom of the tank. That fuel is where any sediment and debris will end up.When pulled, those impurities can put a strain on your fuel line and clog the fuel filter up. Over time, those issues become more significant and can lead to costly repairs.
- Not Using Your Parking Brake – Most of us think that the parking brake is just there for steep hills and other precarious situations. It’s actually supposed to be used whenever you park the car. Setting the parking brake helps keep the vehicle even and prevents the bulk of the car from resting unevenly on its components. If your home parking spot is uneven, for example, you’ll gradually warp the components of your vehicle.
- Shifting Too Quickly – You back out of a spot and quickly shift from “reverse”, to neutral, to drive without stopping.It’s a classic “cool guy” move that we can all appreciate. The trouble is, shifting without stopping is awful for your drivetrain. You don’t even want to think about the costs of repairing your drive-train because you were trying to look cool.
- Forgetting Maintenance – Cars are home to hundreds, if not thousands of various parts. All of these parts have the potential to wear down, and they all serve a purpose. Unless you’re a mechanic, there’s no way that you could monitor the health of the various pieces of your vehicle. It’s important to have your car checked out frequently to make sure everything is in good shape.
- Multi-Tasking – Eating, ruffling through bags, writing notes, and plotting GPS coordinates are no excuse to be distracted while driving. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as multitasking. You’re only doing two things poorly and interchangeably. If you have to do something, it’s safest to pull over and take care of it before moving forward.
- Ignoring Road Conditions – The speed limit should only be your maximum speed when road conditions are safe. When there’s snow, rain, ice, or anything else on your path, it’s wise to slow down and adjust accordingly.Road conditions are at the whim of nature, and human intervention isn’t at a point where we can keep roads safe. Be sure to stay vigilant and adjust your driving habits to the conditions of the road.
Stopping Distracted Driving
Distracted driving is a dangerous national epidemic. It’s responsible for thousands of lives lost on the road and nearly half a million fatalities. In this info-graphic, you can see just how deadly distracted driving can be — and learn how you can take action to stop it today.
Want more? Take a look at these statistics that illustrate just how dangerous and harmful and distracted driving can be:
- In 2021, 3,522 people were killed in motor vehicles involving distracted drivers.
- Every day 9 Americans are killed by distracted driving accidents.
- Texting typically takes your eyes off of the road for five seconds. For five seconds at 55 mph, you can drive the length of a football field while checking a text – practically blindfolded. Research indicates that two seconds is the longest you can safely glance away from the road.
- One in four motor vehicle crashes now involves a cell phone.
- Reaching for a phone or engaging in other visual-manual sub-tasks increases your risk of crashing by three times.
- When driving conditions and time on task were controlled for, the impairments associated with using a cell phone while driving can be as profound as those associated with driving while drunk. Texting makes you eight times more likely to get into an accident.
- Drivers in their 20s are at the highest risk of dangers from distracted driving; they make up 27% of the distracted drivers in fatal crashes.
- Right now, and at any given moment of the day in America, about 660,000 drivers are using electronic devices while driving.
- Hands-free phones are not substantially safer than handheld use, as your brain is still distracted even though you have the use of your hands. It’s best not to talk on the phone at all while driving.
- 40% of American teens say they’ve been in a car while a driver used a cell phone unsafely
Types of Distracted Driving:
Most people think of texting or talking on the phone as distracted driving. While those are major problems behind the wheel, they’re certainly not the only ones. Distracted driving takes on many forms and can be anything that takes your eyes, hands, or attention off of the road, either one at a time or all at once. Talking with passengers, eating, grooming, and more can be dangerous as well. Are you doing any of these distracting actions while driving?
- Texting: One of the worst driving distractions, texting requires your eyes, hands, and attention.
- GPS and Maps: Like texting, using GPS or reading a map for directions while take your hands, eyes, and thoughts away from driving.
- Talking on the Phone: Even if you’re using a hands-free device, talking on the phone takes your mind off the road.
- Reading or Watching a Video: Even if you’re sitting in standstill traffic, it’s never a good idea to read or watch a video, as these completely distract you from the task at hand.
- Adjusting Your Radio to Music: Changing radio stations may distract you a bit, but choosing a song on your iPod or setting up a playlist can be just as bad as texting.
- Daydreaming: It’s easy to let your mind wander while driving, especially on long trips. Resist the temptation and stay focused on the road.
- Caring for Children or Pets: Children or pets may ask for food, have complaints, or distract you with other needs. Encourage them to wait to make requests until you’re parked or at a stoplight.
- Talking: Even talking with passengers can be a distraction, especially if you tend to be animated or you’re engaging in an intense conversation.
- Searching for Items: Keep your car organized so that you won’t need to root around for items while you’re driving. Keep toll change in the console and sunglasses in your glove box.
- Grooming: Shaving, putting on makeup, or brushing your hair is just as bad as texting. It requires your eyes, hands, and attention and should be avoided while driving.
- Eating: One of the most common forms of distracted driving, eating can be very dangerous, especially if you’re consuming messy food. Stick to easy snacks, or better yet, don’t eat in your car at all.
- Smoking: Smoking is already dangerous, but it’s especially dangerous if you’re driving. Loose embers can cause you to panic, and even just flicking spent ash out the window can be distracting behind the wheel.
How You Can Stop Distracted Driving
Commit to Driving: When you get behind the wheel, focus fully on the task at hand and avoid distractions. Never attempt to multitask. Keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Pull over if you need to complete a task: Do not attempt to anything while driving other than driving. If you need to take on a task, pull over before you do so.
Store or silence your cell phone: Put your cell phone in the glove box or back seat so that you won’t be tempted to glance over and check when you hear a text, email, or phone call come in. If you don’t want to put it out of reach, at least turn off the sound so that you won’t be distracted by any beeps and chimes.
Ask passengers for help: If you need to update directions on your GPS, send a text, find a CD, or take care of other tasks while driving, ask your passenger to do it instead of trying to do it while you’re behind the wheel.
Show children and pets that you won’t respond to distractions: Children or pets may need your help or attention while you’re driving. Train children to understand that you can’t help while you’re behind the wheel and pull over if there’s a task you need to do for them. They should also be carefully secured before you start driving so that you don’t need to adjust seat belts while you’re on the road.
Save intense discussions for later: Avoid having involved or animated discussions while driving. Encourage passengers to remind you to talk about it later when you’re not driving.
Adjust your vehicle before pulling out: Adjust your seats, mirrors, headrest, and seat belt before you leave your driveway or parking spot.
Finish grooming at home or when you’re parked: Take care of shaving, makeup, and other grooming tasks before you leave the house. If you must do them in the car, wait until you’re parked at your destination to perform these tasks.
Plan your route before you start moving: Avoid checking your GPS while in route by simply setting it before you head out.
Set your music up before departure: Tune in to your favorite radio station, find your audiobook or podcast on your phone, or set up your playlist before you hit the gas pedal.
Eat before you leave: Avoid messy foods that can cause problems on the road, instead opting for snacks that do not require your attention. Better yet, avoid eating in the car entirely.
Don’t smoke while driving: Smoking while driving can be a major distraction, particularly if you lose part of your cigarette while moving. Quit smoking while you’re behind the wheel, and don’t allow passengers to smoke, either.
Warn others when you’ll be on the road: Take off some of the pressure to respond to calls and texts by letting your boss, colleagues, and loved ones know that you’ll be driving and unable to respond. It’s also a good idea to check in before you leave.
Don’t bother others while they’re driving: If you know your spouse or friend is commuting home, don’t call or text them. Wait until you know they’re home to get in touch.
Create a safe driving plan for your family: Model safe driving behavior and require that teen drivers follow rules to avoid distracted driving as well.
Be a safe passenger: As a passenger, encourage distraction-free drivers. You wouldn’t get in a car with a drunk driver, so don’t get in a car with a distracted driver, either. You can help by offering to be a designated device handler, replying to texts, looking up directions, and changing radio stations
Things You Can Do To Survive a Car Accident
Car accidents can happen any time, anywhere, and even to defensive drivers with safe driving habits. When faced with an accident, you may be blindsided — or you may see it coming and have an opportunity to act. At that point, you’re shifting from crash avoidance to crash survival. What you do in those few seconds can make a difference in the severity of the accident and may even save your life. Read on to learn what you can do before, during, and after a car accident that can help you and your passengers survive a crash.
What To Do Before A Car Accident – The best way to survive an accident is to avoid accidents completely. But even safe drivers can get into accidents. Take these steps before there’s ever danger on your radar so that you’ll be safer in the event of a crash. Wear your seat belt: In an accident, a seat belt can mean life or death, so this is absolutely the best thing you can do to survive a car crash. Seat belts reduce serious car crash injuries and deaths by about half, and those are good odds. You may not have control over much of what happens during a car accident, but this step is one you can take long before you’re in danger. Secure your seat belt low on your hip bones and make sure your shoulder belt goes across the center of your chest. Secure children safely in car seats.
Drive the safest car you can afford: Manufacturers continue to make cars safer every year, introducing new features like automatic braking and lane-departure warnings. They also make improvements and perform better on crash test ratings. When you’re shopping for a car, pay attention to safety. Check official crash test ratings, investigate safety features, and consider these factors when purchasing your vehicle. And whatever car you’re driving, make sure you know the standard and optional safety features including where your airbags are and whether or not you have ABS.
Store potential projectiles: Anything can become a projectile during a crash. Rocks collected on a hike, sports equipment, your laptop, an overnight bag. Seemingly harmless items can become dangerous when flung across your car at a high rate of speed, hitting you or your passengers. Even a can of soup in your grocery bag has the potential to turn fatal when it’s flying at 60 miles per hour in a car crash. Do your best to travel light, removing all unnecessary objects from your car every time you get home. When traveling with objects that could become projectiles, carefully stow them in your trunk, covered back storage area, or in wells behind seats. Consider using a cargo cover or net to secure items in the back of SUVs and minivans. Note that unsecured passengers and pets are potential projectiles as well.
Invest in an auto survival tool and first aid kit: Keep a seatbelt cutter and glass breaker handy in your vehicle at all times. Be ready to cut your seat belt or break your window to escape if necessary. You should also have a first aid kit available for emergencies.
What To Do During A Car Accident – In many accident situations, there’s not much you can do to make things better. In fact, you may not even see the accident coming, or it happens so fast, you can’t make any adjustments to make yourself safer. But if you do have the chance to act, consider these tips that can reduce the severity of the crash and keep you safer:
Trust your anti-lock brake system: Most vehicles today come equipped with anti-lock brakes, a system that will pump brakes faster than you’re able to in order to slow down your vehicle efficiently. If you need to brake quickly, just hold your brakes firmly and allow the ABS to pump your brakes for you. You may feel the pedal vibrate so that you know it’s working. This system works best when your wheels are pointed straight forward.
Slow down: Speed is one of the most dangerous factors in any accident. The faster you or the other vehicle is going, the more of an impact there will be. If you see an accident coming, do your best to minimize your speed.
Consider acceleration: In an accident, more speed is often the last thing you want to add to the equation, but in some situations, it’s the right choice. If it is possible for you to speed up and get out of the way, this is a smart action to take.
Remain in control or regain control of your vehicle: If your car starts to skid, steer in the direction of the skid. Avoid braking or pressing the accelerator until your tires regain traction. Always keep a firm grip on the wheel, and do your best to remain calm.
Avoid sudden movements: Respond quickly but smoothly to potential accidents. Avoid jerking your steering wheel or slamming on the brakes unless it is absolutely necessary, as these actions could cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
Aim for the object that will do the least damage: If hitting something is inevitable, do your best to steer toward an area that is likely to cause less damage. That means if you have a choice, steer for the bushes rather than oncoming traffic. Of course, keep in mind that big trees may be more dangerous to hit than other objects, and new road signs may be designed to snap off on impact. Ultimately, try to avoid head-on collisions with other vehicles or running into secure immovable objects like concrete barriers.
Stay in a normal driving position: Hunching, ducking, or anything that moves you out of the normal driving position can make your injuries worse, as vehicle safety systems are designed to protect you in this position. Ducking can cause your head to hit the steering wheel or dashboard and get you too close to the airbag as it deploys. Moving your arms in front of your steering wheel could put them in the way of your airbag as well. Stay upright and hold the steering wheel for the best protection.
What To Do After A Car Accident – Even after an accident has passed, you may not be out of danger. Rubberneckers, fire, and injuries that are not yet apparent are still quite dangerous. Get help and stay safe with these tips:
Call 911 for help: As soon as you can, call authorities to help attend to your emergency. This will ensure that you get medical attention and clear the accident as soon as possible.
Assess whether it’s safe to leave your vehicle: Your car may be the safest place to be even after a crash. Getting out on the highway where there may be rubberneckers or while other vehicles are crashing around you in a multiple-vehicle pileup can put you in serious danger if you’ve exited the car. Assess whether there is moving traffic and if you have injuries that might require you to stay still. Leave if it is safe to do so, but remember that the safest place to be maybe in your seat with your seat belt still fastened.
Reduce the risk of fire: Turn off your engine, do not smoke, and do not allow anyone else to smoke. The accident may have resulted in a leak of flammable materials, such as gas. Leaving your car running or smoking in the area can cause vapors to ignite.
Apply first aid: Find your first aid kit and attend to any injuries that you can handle until emergency services arrive.
Get out if there’s danger: If there’s a fire or you’ve landed in water, you’ll need to exit your vehicle and help any passengers get out as soon as possible. This is particularly tricky if you’re in water. As soon as your vehicle hits water, get out. Open your window immediately to give yourself the best chance of escape. Remember that it will be difficult if not impossible to open your door with water pressure. Break side windows with your foot or a safety tool. Do not attempt to break the windshield as it is designed for impact. Leave everything behind except for other people.
Things You Should Do if You're in a Car Accident
Auto accidents happen every day — they even happen to otherwise safe, defensive drivers. After an accident, you may be confused, angry, and hurt, but it’s important to keep a level head so that you can stay safe and carefully document the details of the accident. The steps you take after an accident can have a serious impact on safety, insurance claims, and more, so it’s important that you get it right. Make sure you’re taking care of these important tasks if you’re involved in a car accident — even a minor one.
Stay calm and assess the damage in your vehicle: Quickly determine if you or any passengers are injured and whether or not it is safe to move or get out of your car. Take a deep breath and do your best to remain calm before taking action.
Get to a safe area: If possible, move your car to a shoulder or a nearby parking lot, while indicating to the · other driver that they should follow. This way, you’ll be out of traffic and less likely to be injured by passing vehicles. You’ll also cut down on rubberneckers and avoid causing traffic difficulties for others. Use flares, warning blinkers, and any other indicators you may have to warn other drivers of your presence. Never leave the scene of an accident, even if it is a minor one.
Be on the alert for drivers leaving the scene: Keep in mind that the other driver may not stick around, especially if they are at fault or uninsured. If this is the case, attempt to photograph or write down their license plate number to share with the police and your insurance company.
Turn off your vehicle and get out: If you’re not seriously hurt, get out and check on the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. Remember that safety and injuries take priority. Call 911 for help if needed. Do not attack the other driver verbally or physically. Accidents happen — avoid reacting emotionally even if it was clear the other driver acted negligently. Then, take a look at the damage to both vehicles. Remember to stay out of traffic, giving other vehicles plenty of room to get by. Don’t forget you’re in a dangerous location on the side of the road.
Call the police: A police report can help keep the facts straight and make it easier to deal with insurance companies as well as the other driver. Give the police all of the facts you know and allow them to determine who is at fault for the crash. Ask for the police report number and request a copy of the accident report.
Take photos as soon as possible: Remember, the other driver may not stick around even though they’re legally required to do so. Getting photos of the damage (and their license plate) before anything is moved may prove to be important in winning a case. Especially when the accident is not common, but a Lyft or Uber one. These cases are more complicated, and the photos are more than important to be taken right at the scene. They will surely help you afterward while consulting with a Lyft accident lawyer who understands the ins and outs and who will help you in attaining justice. Even if the other driver cooperates, you’ll need evidence of the damage. It’s a smart idea to take a photo of the other driver with their car — which can make it difficult for them to later claim they weren’t involved. Take photos of the other driver’s insurance card for easy reference.
Get as much information as you can: Write down license plate numbers, insurance information, driver and passenger names, as well as the make and model of all vehicles involved. Describe the weather, traffic, time of day, and any other important factors. Note the location of the accident as well as the name and badge number of responding police officers. If there are eyewitnesses, write down their names and contact information. Draw a diagram of the scene and take notes about how the accident happened. Make sure to document the direction each vehicle was traveling.
Don’t admit fault or downplay injuries: Even if you think an accident was your fault, don’t say so. Don’t place blame on the other driver, either. Let the police decide. Don’t sign any documents except for a police report. You should also avoid telling the other driver or police that you feel fine: simply tell them you don’t feel like you need medical attention at the moment. It’s very common to not feel injuries or pain at the scene of the crime when your adrenaline is pumping and then feel whiplash or other injuries hours or days later.
Call for a tow or get roadside assistance if you can’t safely drive: If your vehicle is unable to move or you are concerned it is unsafe to drive, call a tow truck and have it towed to a mechanic or dealership for help.
Get medical attention if needed: If you have any injuries or concerns about your health related to the accident, go to your doctor, urgent care center, or emergency room immediately, especially if you lost consciousness. Injuries may become worse or more painful with time. Getting medical attention right away also helps to legitimize an injury if you need to make a claim. Many insurers will raise an eyebrow if you’re able to wait a few days to get medical help for a seemingly serious injury. Even if you don’t seek medical attention immediately, see your family doctor shortly after the accident to rule out any hidden injuries. Keep track of all medical treatment and expenses. It’s also a good idea to document any impact injuries have had on your daily life, especially missed workdays and the inability to complete regular tasks and activities.
Call your insurance company: Even if you’re not at fault, your insurance company can help you with claims. It’s also important to establish good faith reporting in case the other driver’s insurance company denies responsibility and you need to make a claim on your own insurance. Keep in mind that most state laws prohibit insurers from raising premiums for drivers who were not at fault in an accident. And even if an accident is your fault, drivers with a history of good driving may have accident forgiveness, so don’t assume your rates will skyrocket after you call your insurance company.
Call the other driver’s insurance company: You will likely need to contact the other driver’s insurance company to file a claim and get reimbursed for your expenses. Be prepared to answer lots of questions and do your best to give truthful information to the best of your knowledge. Do not admit fault or downplay any details. You may work with the insurance company for weeks or even months for reimbursement of repair, rental, and medical expenses. You will likely also be able to make a claim for general damages (typically pain and suffering and missed work).
Replace car seats: If your accident occurred with children in car seats in your car, don’t hesitate to replace them. Car seats should always be replaced after a serious accident, as they are only designed to be safe for a single crash. Even if they appear to be in good shape, unseen damage may have occurred. The cost of replacing car seats should be reimbursed the same way any vehicle repairs are taken care of with the insurance company. Keep in mind that most manufacturers recommend replacing car seats after any crash, even minor ones, so even if you were able to drive away from the accident and have no apparent injuries, it’s a good idea to replace car seats just to be safe. Refer the insurance company to your manufacturer’s instructions recommending replacement if they attempt to deny reimbursement for car seats in a minor accident claim.
Car Emergency Kit Essentials
Emergencies happen. Whether it’s a tire blowout, dead battery, or even a bathroom emergency, you may find yourself on the side of the road someday — and a well-stocked emergency kit can save the day. Even if you’re driving a new car or have roadside assistance, it’s helpful to have supplies that can get things fixed up quickly. New car tires aren’t immune to running over road hazards, and roadside assistance can sometimes take far too long to reach you to actually be helpful.
A car emergency can happen at any time and anywhere, and while it would be ideal to break down right outside a dealership where you can get help, that’s probably not going to happen. Instead, you may have an emergency on a dark, desolate road at night or even during a natural disaster when help isn’t easy to find. A car emergency kit can be very handy in these situations — and it can even save your life.
Even if you never have to use it, a car emergency kit is a good idea to have. It can help you get through basic roadside repairs like changing a tire or temporarily fixing a hose, even jumping a battery, or surviving a blizzard in your car. Stay safe and comfortable in any roadside emergency with a fully stocked emergency kit. Below are important items no car should be without:
Your owner’s manual: Your driver’s manual contains important information on jump-starting your car, locating your spare tire and jack, and more. It should always be kept handy in your vehicle’s glove compartment.
Roadside assistance and insurance information: The side of the road is the last place you want to be scrambling to find out the 1-800 number to call for roadside assistance or to report an accident to your insurance company. Keep this information handy in your glove box with your driver’s manual.
Duct tape: Duct tape is good for so many quick repairs, including broken hoses, taillights, and side-view mirrors.
Jumper cables: Don’t get stuck with a dead battery. With jumper cables, all you need is another vehicle willing to help you get jump-started.
Spare tire: Make sure you have a spare tire and properly inflated along with your other tires. It would be best if you also were sure you have your spare tire jack — and that you know how to use it.
Tire gauge: Find out right away if a tire is too low or too high and needs pressure adjustment.
Fix a Flat: A tire sealer and inflator can help you quickly patch up a tire and limp your way to a tire shop for help instead of changing out to a spare tire.
Basic fluids: They may take up a lot of room, but oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, and other important vehicle fluids can really help out in a pinch. It would be best if you also were sure to carry extra of any fluid your vehicle is known to be leaking.
Spare fuses: Spare fuses are so small and easy to replace. There’s no excuse not to have a spare fuse kit handy.
Car escape tool: A seat belt cutter and window breaker can help you get out of your car quickly if you need to escape in an emergency.
Work gloves: Whether you need to change a tire, check your oil, or shovel snow, work gloves can make the job easier, cleaner, and more comfortable.
Multitool: A multi-tool is useful for many quick roadside repairs, so it’s always good to have handy.
Flashlight: Emergencies can happen at night, and you’ll need light to see safely. Make sure you always have a flashlight in your car and that it’s ready to go with fresh batteries.
Reflective triangle: Warn other drivers that you’re on the side of the road safely with a reflective triangle. Two or more is best.
Vehicle fire extinguisher: Not many people carry fire extinguishers in their vehicles, but this tool can be a lifesaver if you’re in an accident or your car overheats. Look for a fire extinguisher that is specifically designed and rated for vehicles.
Tire traction materials: Avoid getting stuck in the snow. Keep cat litter, sand, carpet, or pieces of carpet handy in your car to put under your tires if you need to gain traction.
Snow shovel: Be ready to dig your way out of the snow during the winter with a snow shovel. To save on space, look for a collapsible version.
Ice scraper: Keep an ice scraper in your car so that you’ll always be ready to clear ice off of your windshield for visibility.
Tow chain: Whether you need it for yourself or others, a tow chain can get you out of a bind. This is a good tool to have, especially in case you get stuck in snow or mud.
First aid kit: A first aid kit can help you patch up scrapes and injuries. Your kit should include band-aids, bandages, gauze pads, tape, pain relievers, and alcohol prep pads.
Toilet paper: This may not help in a real emergency, but we can guarantee you’ll be glad to have it if you need it. Keep a roll or more in your car. To save space, take out the cardboard tube and flatten the roll down.
Paper towels or baby wipes: You’d be surprised how many ways you can use paper towels or baby wipes in your car, especially in an emergency. They can keep your hands clean and help you out if you’re checking your oil or performing other roadside vehicle repairs.
Blanket: Handy year-round, blankets for everyone in your family can keep passengers warm whether it’s cold outside or they’re just getting blasted by the air conditioning. If you get stuck in a blizzard or other winter weather situation, they could even save your life.
Water bottles and nonperishable food: Another useful thing to have if you get stuck is sustenance. Keep water handy and store nonperishable food. Many people prefer food and water packets, but water bottles and snacks like energy bars or granola bars are a good idea, too.
Paper maps: Even if you’re used to using GPS or your cell phone for directions, remember that they won’t work everywhere. Don’t get lost in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. Download and print or simply buy an old-fashioned map to keep in your car just in case you need directions, and you’re not able to use mobile devices for help.
Mobile phone charger: Your phone should always be in the car and be well-charged in case you get stuck. Make sure you have a phone charger that always stays in your car. Most people use a car charger, but a solar-powered mobile charger is also a good idea.
Battery-powered radio: Again, you may not always have cell service, especially during difficult weather or natural disasters when phone lines are overloaded. A battery-powered radio can keep you informed even when you don’t have vehicle or cell phone power.
Emergency cash: You may be armed with a loaded debit card or credit card, but they aren’t accepted everywhere, and when power is out, they won’t even work. Make sure you have emergency cash available for gas, hotel, and other necessities.
Avoiding Road Rage
Road rage is an epidemic that has the potential to affect every driver on the road, whether you’re an aggressor or victim. Aggressive driving can lead to death or injury, but it can often be avoided. Learn more about important road rage statistics and information and what you can do to avoid aggressive driving and becoming a victim of road rage.
How to Avoid Road Rage – While aggressive drivers are everywhere, the most dangerous road rage incidents happen when two or more drivers have aggressive responses to each other. Getting cut off in traffic can quickly escalate to further aggression if you choose to honk or gesture at another driver. Even if you’ve been subjected to rude or aggressive driving behaviors, it’s important that you don’t respond in kind. Think twice before laying on your horn or making a rude gesture, and you can avoid provoking road rage.
Use these tips to slow down, calm down, and stay safe even with aggressive drivers on the road:
Practice polite driving habits: Avoid tailgating, cutting off other vehicles, speeding, weaving, leaving high beam headlights on, and erratic braking. Don’t drive in the left lane slower than the rest of traffic. Merge politely, and always err on the side of being courteous. This is smart to do not just to avoid road rage, but to make driving easier and more pleasant for every motorist.
Slow down: Simply let aggressive drivers go around you and typically, they will quickly be on their way.
Get away from aggressive drivers: If you notice a driver with aggressive behavior, get some distance between you, whether you slow down and let them get ahead or change lanes so you’re not right next to each other.
Don’t make rude gestures or yell at other drivers: Remember, you’re not the police, and it’s not your job to remind others how to drive, even if they’re doing a terrible job. Avoid making eye contact with an aggressive driver who is trying to pick a fight.
Use your horn sparingly: Horns should primarily be used in emergency situations. Tap your horn lightly if you need to get a driver’s attention, and give drivers ahead of you at lights a few extra seconds of grace before honking to remind them to move through the intersection.
Call a road rage hotline: Many states now have aggressive driver hotlines that you can call to report aggressive drivers. Instead of confronting an aggressive driver, simply let the authorities know about their actions and how they can be found.
Avoid making driving a competitive sport: You’re not a race car driver — you don’t have to win on the road. In fact, winning as a regular driver is simply getting home safe. Getting worked up over a vehicle that’s cut you off or gotten in your way somehow isn’t worth it. Remember: getting home safely is more important than teaching another driver a lesson.
Apologize if you’ve done something wrong: If you’ve accidentally cut off another driver, braked too fast, or made some other mistake that could be offensive, simply smile and wave as an apology. This will disarm and calm most drivers.
Don’t drive under distress: Avoid driving if you’re angry, upset, or drowsy.
Adjust your driving attitude: Give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. Many mistakes are unintentional and not meant as a personal offense. Consider whether responding aggressively is worth being injured or killed.
Have reasonable expectations about your travel time: Know when you’ll be driving in traffic, give yourself plenty of time, and don’t set unreasonable expectations for how fast you’ll get to your destination.
Call 911 if you’re under attack: If an aggressive driver attacks you, call 911 right away and stay on the phone with the dispatcher. Consider driving to the nearest police station, convenience store, or other public location with witnesses. Do not drive home.
Road Rage and Aggressive Driving Behaviors include:
- Following too closely
- Driving at excessive speeds
- Weaving through traffic
- Cutting off other vehicles
- Honking without cause
- Running stop lights and signs
- Erratic braking
- No turn signal
- Inappropriate lane usage
- Flashing headlights at slow drivers
- Sporadic speed or sudden acceleration
- Using a vehicle as a barrier
- Gesturing or yelling at another driver
- Chasing other vehicles
- Getting out of a vehicle to threaten another driver
- Intentionally hitting another vehicle or person
- Driver confrontations, physical assault, and murder
Aggressive driving is a Traffic Violation, but escalated road rage is a Criminal Offense. Factors that lead to road rage and aggressive driving include:
- Running late
- Traffic delays
- Disregard for the law
- Habitual or clinical behaviors
- Disregard for others
Safety Tips for Driving in High Winds
Did you know that high winds can have a devastating effect on road safety? In fact, over 1.2 million vehicle crashes a year are weather-related, including from driving in high winds. When learning to drive, it’s common not to experience any type of bad weather. This may be due to the time of year you learned or because your lesson was canceled. As a result, new drivers can be caught off guard in the event of driving in high winds. They often don’t know what to do, and this causes them to panic. This kind of situation is hazardous, not only for them but for other road users. It increases the chance of a crash and can have a long-term effect on their confidence. So, it’s important to know what to do whilst driving in windy conditions. If you have the knowledge and expertise required, then you can remain calm and stay safe.
Below are some tips for driving in windy conditions:
- Only Drive in High Winds if it’s Urgent. It’s common sense to realize that the best way to stay safe in windy weather is not to drive at all. If there are high winds in your area, which are classed at around 40mph or more, don’t travel. By doing this, you won’t put yourself or others in harm’s way. If you’re unsure about traveling, then check local weather and news reports. Often, when there is bad weather, they advise you not to travel or only travel in an emergency. Emergency travel is usually classed as seeking medical help or escaping a dangerous situation. It shouldn’t be to go to a grocery store, cinema, or other social events. You should also remember that if you do need emergency help, you’re advised to call 911 immediately.
- Plan Your Journey In Advance. If you are looking to go on a long journey out of town, then it’s recommended to plan your journey in advance. This is useful if you are looking to travel across states, especially those within the tornado alley (Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, and Ohio). These are where high winds are common, and tornados regularly occur. So if you are planning on driving through any of these states, then you should be prepared.
First, you should check all state and local weather conditions. You can do this by calling 511, although it may vary between provinces. Plus, there are plenty of weather apps you can download that keep you up to date. If there is a severe weather warning, they can alert you and guide you.
Secondly, prepare for driving in windy weather and storms. It’s advisable to plan for any type of scenario, giving you a higher chance of staying safe. To do this, you should:
Take a spare tire and puncture repair kit
Take a mobile phone car charger
Pack warm clothing, including blankets
Have a first aid kit
Bring a torch with extra batteries
It’s easy to become stranded in stormy conditions, but by following this advice, you’ll be prepared for any situation.
- Slow Down. When we’re in dangerous situations, sometimes our natural reaction is to escape quickly. When driving in a windstorm, some people try to get to their destination faster. But, this puts them in more danger and at a higher risk of crashing. Gusts of winds surround the car and affect the handling and braking. They also come in short and unpredictable bursts, and as a result, they catch people off guard. If this happens to you whilst driving at high speed, you’ll have less time to react. To help prevent this from happening, you should slow down. This way, you’ll have more control of the car and be able to react more efficiently.
- Adapt According to Your Vehicle. The best types of vehicles to drive in windy conditions are small sports coupes. This is because they are more aerodynamic, meaning the wind can easily travel over them. Trucks and buses are the worst as they are blown around more easily by side winds. In fact, it’s almost like being hit from the side by another vehicle. Plus, it’s common for trucks to topple over in the most severe wind conditions, so we recommend parking somewhere safe if you are driving one. You can then wait until the conditions have eased before continuing. This is also similar for motorcyclists. It can take far less wind to affect the bike’s handling and knock you off balance. If you were to crash, you have very little protection and could be hit by another vehicle. So, you should avoid traveling at all in windy conditions. Finally, if you are driving a 4×4 or saloon, be cautious. The car can still topple over or be knocked off the road. So, you should slow down and park somewhere safe.
- Anticipate Winds. If you are about to go from a protected area, like a tunnel, and into an open space, be prepared for sudden gusts. They can catch you off guard and easily cause a crash. So before approaching, slow down significantly. By doing this, you can stay in control of your vehicle and stay safe. You’ll also help protect other drivers behind you as they’ll follow your lead.
- Be Cautious When Overtaking. Ideally, you want to avoid overtaking other vehicles, but sometimes this is unavoidable. So, when overtaking trucks, buses, motorbikes, and even cyclists, take the following precautions. First, give them a wide birth. We’ve already established that trucks, buses, and motorbikes are most at risk from high winds. If a bus or truck was to be blown over onto your vehicle, it could be fatal. So when overtaking, stay as far away from them as possible. If the worst did happen, your vehicle would have more chance of not being hit.
In terms of motorcyclists and pushbike users, just do the same. If they come off, they could be thrown into your vehicle’s path. If you were to hit them, it could have devastating consequences. Finally, as you are just about to overtake the large vehicles, anticipate side winds. You’ll no longer have the protection of the bus or truck so approach it as you would exiting a tunnel.
- Be Aware of Falling Debris. If you are driving in a forest or the countryside, you need to constantly be on the lookout for falling trees. It’s common for branches and entire trees to be blown down, and they can cause severe accidents. In fact, people have been killed by fallen trees. But, they don’t have to hit you directly to be dangerous. They can fall into the road and cause a blockage. This is especially dangerous at night or in foggy conditions because they are hard to notice. So, if you hit one at high speed, you’re likely to suffer severe injuries. To protect yourself, slow down and ensure your lights are on. If a tree or branch is overhanging, then try to avoid traveling underneath it. Finally, also look out for falling roof tiles and electricity poles. Damage to these is common during storms; always stay alert.
- Hold the Steering Wheel Correctly. Most of us are guilty of driving with one hand on the steering wheel sometimes, but you should never do this when driving in a heavy storm. Instead, you should imagine the steering wheel is a clock face and place your hands at 2 and 10. This gives you full control of the vehicle and allows you to react in the event of a sudden gust of wind.
- Be Careful When You Park. If you need to park somewhere (and we recommend you do during heavy winds), you should park somewhere safe. Do not park in the following places:
Near cliff edges
Underneath trees or large poles
You should also be careful when you exit your vehicle, as winds can come in any direction. They may cause you to fall or slam the door into you.
Safety Tips for Driving in the Rain
Driving in the rain is an everyday occurrence. Rain happens all the time, and people still have to go places even when it’s wet on the roads. But wet weather driving can be hazardous, causing skids, hydroplaning, and slick roads. It can be tough to keep control of your vehicle when roadways are wet, but these tips can help you stay safer. Follow these tips to tackle rainy roads like an expert — and know when it’s smart to avoid driving, turn around, or pull over to wait for the rain to pass.
Don’t drive if you don’t have to: During heavy rain conditions and flooding, it is often better to stay where you are. If possible, stay out of hazardous rain and wait until the worst has passed before you hit the road.
Slow down: Rain means you need to budget for a longer travel time as traffic will be moving slower, and you’ll need to slow down. Hydroplaning most often occurs when vehicles are driving too fast, so slowing down is a smart move. Take extra care to slow down when the rain starts, as fresh rain will bring out the oils on the roadway and make conditions slicker.
Never use cruise control in wet conditions: Using cruise control during wet weather can cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Drivers may need to reduce speed by easing off the accelerator to prevent traction loss, but this is not possible when using cruise control. Additionally, the driver must remain fully engaged during wet weather driving, so cruise control should be avoided.
Turn on your defroster: Avoid windshield fogging that can interfere with your visibility by turning on your front and rear defrosters to clear it up.
Give extra room to other vehicles: You should always maintain a safe following distance, but be especially careful to give vehicles in front of you plenty of room. That way, you’ll have more time to react to what’s up ahead. Be sure to watch carefully for brake lights ahead of you.
Turn your lights on: If your windshield wipers are on, your lights should be, too. Headlights can help increase your visibility during the rain and make it easier for other vehicles to see you, avoiding a collision when it’s tough to see through the rain.
Avoid hard braking: Use your brakes as little as possible, taking special care to avoid hard braking if you can. Slow down, give others room, and take your foot off the accelerator fast enough so that you won’t have to slam on the brakes.
Avoid sudden movements: Gentle steering, braking, and accelerating are best on wet roads.
Stay away from areas prone to flooding: Know which roads in your area are likely to flood and take a different route if you’re experiencing heavy rains.
Turn around, don’t drown: Driving into flooded areas can be dangerous and even deadly. Drive into a road that’s flooded too deeply, and your car could begin to float and take on water. It can even be washed away — with you in it. Don’t risk it. Check for depth gauges and know the roads you’re driving on. If you’re not sure how deep the water is, turn around and find another way.
Never drive off-road during rain: You may become stuck in puddles that you can’t judge the depth of. Don’t drive through moving water if you can’t see the bottom.
Know how to handle a skid: If your car begins to skid, don’t panic. Continue to steer in the direction you want to go and avoid slamming on your brakes, as it makes it harder to control your vehicle.
Be calm if you’re hydroplaning: If your car starts to hydroplane, gently ease your foot off the gas and avoid steering. Just slow down and hold on until your vehicle regains contact with the road.
Drive-in another vehicle’s tracks: Make it easy for your tires to handle the water and see what’s up ahead by following in the tracks of a vehicle ahead of you — give them plenty of space.
Avoid large trucks and buses: The spray created by large tires can reduce your visibility, so stay away from them if possible.
Be ready for gusty winds: With rain often comes wind, which can push your car and other vehicles around on the road or cause you to lose control. Keep a firm grip on your steering wheel, give a wide berth to high profile vehicles that may be more susceptible to wind, and be aware that you may be hit with strong gusts.
Watch for pedestrians: Take care not to splash pedestrians. Watch for puddles along the roadway where they may be walking parallel to you as you drive. 88% of pedestrian fatalities happen in the absence of inclement weather, but that doesn’t mean drivers can let their guard down.
Drive in the middle lanes: Water tends to pool more in outside lanes, so stick to the middle if possible.
Check your tires: Your tires are your best friend in wet weather driving, providing traction and keeping you steady on the road. Check your tread and tire pressure to make sure you’re ready to hit the road even when it’s wet.
Check lights and windshield wipers, too: Your windshield wipers can clear water quickly and help you see better, while lights give you and other drivers better visibility in the rain and dark. Make sure everything is in working order.
Pull over if it’s really bad: If you can’t see cars in front of you or are having difficulty controlling your vehicle, simply pull over and wait for the rain to slow down.
Safety Tips for Driving in the Fog
Have you ever been out on the road when the fog sets in? Suddenly your visibility is obscured, and you can’t see more than a few feet in front of you. To an inexperienced or unprepared driver, driving in fog can have serious consequences.
Fortunately, there are some strategies you can implement to ensure your safety and the well-being of those around you. Driving in the fog can be dangerous, but it can also be manageable for a prepared driver.
There are a few things that every driver should know about driving safely in fog. Keep reading for helpful tips that can save your life!
- Go Slow – Reducing your speed is one of the top ways to prevent an accident. And in foggy conditions, this only becomes more true. Reduce your speed on foggy days. Remember that the posted speed limit refers to the maximum driving speed during ideal conditions. If the weather is not perfect, that speed is no longer appropriate. Instead, you shouldn’t go any faster than you can safely drive. Slowing down gives you extra time to react in case of an accident. In addition to driving slower, you should also take care not to brake out of the blue. New drivers often hit the brakes out of nowhere, and that is an especially bad idea on foggy days. This is because your vehicle is harder to see in the fog. A driver behind you might not see you through the mist. And if you slam on the brakes, they might rear-end you because they don’t have time to get out of the way. If you are preparing to leave your home and it looks foggy outside, do the smart thing and allow for extra traveling time. The one thing you should never do while driving in the fog is hurry. So allow yourself enough time to drive slowly and safely.
- Use the Right Lights – It is true that your car’s lights can be beneficial when driving in the fog. But very often, people are confused about which lights they should be using. Not all of your car’s lights are equally advantageous in the fog. For example, do not use your bright lights, also known as your high beams. High beams are great for driving in the dark, so many people think they will be useful in the fog. But in fact, they reflect off the fog and make it harder for you to see. Instead, use your low beams. Since they are mounted low on your car, they can help you see the road in front of you. This is useful when the fog is thick. You should also use your fog lights. Fog lights can help you see when conditions are bad, but you need to remember to turn them off when the weather improves. Driving with your fog lights on during a nice day can be dangerous. If you are worried about being seen from behind, you can use your four-way flashers. These can be good if you are crawling at a snail’s pace and want to make sure no one will ram into you from behind.
- Pull Over – No matter what, there is one surefire way to guarantee your safety on foggy days: don’t drive in it. If the fog is bad and your trip is not necessary, postpone it for another time. If you have to drive, you may find that the fog gets worse in the middle of your trip. If that is the case, there is nothing wrong with pulling over for a while to wait for the worst of it to pass. But be careful about where you pull over. Many people are tempted to pull over on the side of the road because it is the easiest option. But in fact, this is not the best choice. Other drivers may see you parked to the side and think you are part of traffic. They might hit you by accident because they don’t know that you are stopped. Other drivers may not see you at all. If you are too close to the side of the road, they may side-swipe you as they drive by. So if it is possible, pull off onto a side street or a parking lot. That way, you can wait for the worst of the fog to pass without endangering your safety. And if you continue driving, remember to keep an eye out for other drivers who may have pulled off to the side of the road.
- Amplify Your Spatial Awareness – Spatial awareness is a necessary element of driving expertise. But it is essential on foggy days. You should try to pay extra attention to where you are in relation to other cars. Try to avoid getting too close to other cars. This means that on foggy days, you should avoid passing or changing lanes. It is also a good idea to turn off cruise control when the weather is foggy. Bad weather often causes frequent stops and starts, and you want to be ready for those. It is recommended that you stay 3-5 car lengths behind other vehicles on nice weather days. This is because this distance typically gives you enough time to stop or move if something happens suddenly. On foggy days, make sure you are at least 5 car lengths behind another driver. This extra spatial awareness could save your life on foggy days. For more tips on how to drive in fog or other compromised conditions, visit our website for answers to all of your questions.
- Keep Your Windshield Clear – If it is foggy, it may also be raining or damp. If this is the case, it is your duty to make sure you keep your windshield clear. Liquid on your windshield can create glare, making it even harder to see through the fog. Fog is also a great reminder to keep your windshield clear of dirt and grime. On nice days, dirt on the windshield may not seem to matter. But it is amazing how it obstructs your vision when the weather is bad. Clean your windshield regularly, whether you are driving in foggy weather or not.
- Follow the Road Lines – If you are being responsible and maintaining an appropriate distance from other drivers, you may not see them. This means you will not be able to rely on them for guidance on the road. One of the most difficult parts of driving in the fog is determining where your lane begins and ends. And that is what the road lines are there for. Instead of relying on other cars, locate the markings on the right side of your lanes and follow that as your guide. Many roads also implement reflectors on the lane markings for this purpose. Following the painted road lines is a great way to stay safe and on track during foggy days. But remember that if you are having a lot of trouble locating your lane, it may be time to revisit tip number three. Pull over and wait out the worst of the fog.
- Listen – The problem with fog is that it obscures your vision, perhaps the most important sense for driving safely. But when one sense is hindered, you may find that your other ones can become more useful. On foggy days, roll down your window and listen to what is around you. If the fog is bad, you will not be able to see other vehicles. But you might be able to hear them. Listen for the sounds of approaching cars and drive your vehicle accordingly. But once again, if you cannot see anything at all, it is better to pull into a parking lot and wait out the worst of it. The usefulness of listening while you drive is also a reminder that in the fog, it is best to eliminate distractions.. Turn off the music and ask your passengers not to talk. The better you can focus, the safer you will be.
Prioritize Driving Safely in Fog. Foggy weather can make safe driving a lot more difficult than you are used to. But with the above seven tips, driving safely in fog is possible. Remember, the weather may change, but the importance of your safety does not.
Safety Tips for Driving in the Snow and Ice
If you’re a new driver or you’ve never lived in an area where winter weather is a frequent reality, you might not be familiar with some of the difficulties that come along with driving in snow and ice. Driving on ice and getting through snowy roads can be complicated. Even people who have been braving the snow for their entire lives can get into accidents if they’re not careful.
Tips for Driving on Ice
But how can you avoid disaster when the roads are slippery, and there’s snow-packed around your car? We want to offer you some advice so you can practice good snow driving safety. Keep reading to learn all of our top tips for driving when the weather outside is frightful.
- Know (and Don’t Push) Your Comfort Levels – The first piece of advice you should take to heart when driving in winter weather is to know what you are and aren’t comfortable with. This is especially true if you’re new to driving. It is always better to exercise caution. If you know that you have somewhere that you need to be, but you don’t yet feel comfortable driving in the snow and ice, don’t be afraid to find another way. If you’re unable to cancel whatever engagement or responsibility that’s going to take you out of the house, look into your public transportation or rideshare options. If possible, see if you can carpool. The rest of these tips will help you when you’re ready to brave the snow and ice but never feel ashamed to opt-out.
- Always Remove Snow From Your Car – Many people make the mistake of leaving ice and snow on their cars before they set out. They know that they need to clear off the windshield and windows, but they quit once they have decent visibility. This presents several problems. First, if you only remove the snow without thinning out the ice, you’re not going to be able to see as well as you need to. It’s a good idea to let your car warm up before you have to leave. When it comes to snow, the snow on the top of your vehicle is just as dangerous as the snow on your windshield and windows. It can be dangerous for you and the people around you. If you come to a sudden stop, some of that snow can slip down onto your windshield, blocking your visibility. What’s more likely, though, is that it will slip back onto the car behind you. Snow could block their visibility, and any chunks of ice can damage their car. If you can, park your car somewhere that it’s protected from the snow. You can also use a tarp if the snow doesn’t get too heavy.
- Invest In Snow Gear – If you’re from an area that doesn’t get a lot of snow, you’ve likely never used snow tires or chains. While people who are well-acquainted with snow may not need these things, they’re important safety tools for anyone who needs help navigating the winter weather. Some tires have studs, while others have different treads that allow them to navigate snow with more security and traction. While you still need to be careful, it will be easier to drive with these tires than it would be with your standard all-season tires. In areas that get a lot of snow, most auto shops will put these tires on for you and take them off when the snowy season is behind you.
- Brake Slowly – You will, at some point, experience some skidding when you’re driving on ice or packed snow. This happens to everyone. The first thing that you’re going to do is panic. Resist the urge to slam on your brakes, even if you’re scared. This won’t help you, and it can cause you to spin out or damage your car. Instead, gently pump the breaks so your car can come to a slow and deliberate stop.
- Drive More Slowly – Speaking of going slow, you also need to consider your speed when driving on ice and snow for the first time. You’re used to driving the speed limit (we hope). You go faster on highways, and you go slower in neighborhoods. This is still true when it’s snowing, but you need to bring your speed down. Only go as slow as road safety allows. People will understand if you’re going slow because you’re new to snowy weather, but make sure that you aren’t in anyone’s way.
- Watch for Black Ice – Do you know how to spot black ice? Black ice is a thin layer of almost transparent ice that blends into the road. While thin, it’s still slippery and dangerous. This ice forms when the temperature during the day is warm enough to melt ice (or it rains), but the road stays wet. This means that when the weather dips below freezing again, that water freezes and creates a slippery layer over the road. If you hit black ice, do everything that you can to maintain control of the vehicle. Don’t brake unless you have to. Instead, let your car come to a stop by taking your foot off of the accelerator. Learning how to spot black ice is difficult. It adds shine to the road, but that isn’t always noticeable. You’ll start to identify areas where black ice is more common as you continue driving in the winter weather, but at first, it’s best to assume that it’s there and drive accordingly.
- Give a Lot of Space – You should always give the cars ahead of you space in all weather conditions, but it allows extra room when it comes to snow. Remember that other people are like you. They’re not familiar with the weather, and they may also have problems when it comes to speeding up and slowing down. You want to give yourself (and them) enough room for error. You also want to make sure that you give yourself room to brake. If you’re too close to the car ahead of you, it won’t be possible for you to brake in a reasonable amount of time. Assume that you might skid even if you know you’re a competent driver. It’s better to be cautious.
- Avoid Dangerous Routes – There are always some routes that will be less ideal than others when it comes to driving in poor weather conditions. Take note of these and avoid them when you’re able to. If you’re planning on taking a long trip, plan your route ahead of time. Avoid any mountain passes if you can, even if that means taking the longer way. You should also use caution in your own town. Are there any hills that might be too icy for an inexperienced driver to conquer? Are there roads that plows skip because they’re not as well-used as others? Take note of these things and factor them into your driving plans. It’s always better to be safe rather than sorry, even if that means that you will have to extend your route.
- Give Yourself Time – Speaking of extending your route, make sure that you’re always giving yourself enough time to get where you need to go. Snowy weather isn’t a good time for rushing and driving last-minute. You need time to warm up your car, clean off snow, and get rid of ice. This means that you should give yourself a few minutes to warm up your car, so it’s easier to get rid of that thick ice layer. You also need to account for the extra time that you’ll be spending when you’re driving at a slower pace, as well as any extra time that it will take to take longer routes. Rushing will cause an accident. Don’t risk it.
- Practice – If you’re able to, try to practice driving in safe spaces, even if you’ve been driving for a long time. Driving on snow and ice is a whole other ball game. Empty parking lots are great for this. You can learn how much distance you need for your car to stop and what you can expect as far as control goes. You’re never too advanced to take time to practice when you’re driving under new conditions.
Driving In Snow and Ice Can Be Dangerous! Never underestimate bad weather. Driving in snow and ice takes practice, and even if you’re already familiar with it, mistakes and accidents can still happen. Use caution on the road during the winter, and always make sure to know your limits. It’s easy to cause an accident when the weather is bad.
Services and Resources
City of Pikeville
25 Municipal Drive
Pikeville, Tennessee 37367