Here are the top 10 tips for save driving:
- Keep your vehicle safe
- Practice defensive driving
- Watch out for the other guy
- Don't follow too closely
- Be extra careful in bad weather
- Wear your seat belt
- Don't drive drowsy
- Avoid distractions
- Don't speed
- Don't drive drunk
No matter how long you’ve been driving, it never hurts to freshen up on the latest safe driving tips. To keep you commuting and traveling safely, follow these top 10 safety driving tips from Ed Grabianowski at HowStuffWorks.
10. Don’t Drive Drunk
Approximately 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 10,142 deaths in 2019 alone [source: NHTSA]. The vast majority of those deaths could’ve been avoided entirely if the drivers involved simply hadn’t gotten behind the wheel while drunk. This data also does not reflect the thousands and thousands of other people who are seriously injured by drunk drivers.
9. Don’t Speed
As the old public service campaign so succinctly put it, “Speed kills.” Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive over the posted speed limit, the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent [source: ERSO]. According to the NHTSA, 9,378 people died due to speeding accidents in 2018, and 48% of those fatalities were suffered by people who were not wearing a seat belt.
8. Avoid Distractions
Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 3,142 deaths in 2019 [source: NHTSA]. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, texting behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
7. Don’t Drive Drowsy
A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech reported that 20 percent of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor. The NHTSA reported that driver fatigue caused nearly 700 deaths in 2019. If a driver is tired enough to actually fall asleep while driving, then the results are predictable. Even on a relatively straight highway, a sleeping driver will eventually drift off the road because driving in a straight path without constant adjustments is virtually impossible. Trees, utility poles, ravines, and bridge abutments turn this into a deadly scenario — and that doesn’t even take other cars into account.
6. Wear Your Seat Belt
Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. NHTSA statistics show that nearly 15,000 people survived car accidents in 2017 because they were buckled up correctly. 2,549 deaths in the same year could have been feasibly prevented if a seat belt had been worn at the time of the crash. A staggering 70 percent of fatal crash victims between the ages of 13 and 15 weren’t wearing seat belts.
5. Be Extra Vigilant in Bad Weather
If you’re driving through fog, heavy rain, a snowstorm, or on icy roads, be extra cautious. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you’re driving through weather conditions you don’t know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place that is well off the road, like a parking lot, and wait out the storm. Stopping alongside a road in inclement weather can run the risk of being hit by someone who doesn’t notice your stopped vehicle.
4. Don’t Follow Too Closely
Safe driving guidelines advise drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a “three-second rule.”
3. Watch Out for the Other Guy
Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule is to assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.” In nicer words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, unsignaled turns, swerving, tailgating, and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are you’ll eventually encounter someone like this — and it pays to be ready when you do.
2. Practice Defensive Driving
This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off, and almost caused a huge accident? Don’t be that jerk.
1. Keep Your Vehicle Safe
Vehicle maintenance isn’t just an important way to extend your car’s life — it’s a major safety issue. Many maintenance problems are addressed by state-mandated vehicle inspections. If your car is unsafe, then the inspecting mechanic will let you know what you need to do to fix it. However, there could be a year or more between inspections, so car owners need to be aware of any potential safety issues and get them repaired before they lead to an accident.