Top 5 Safe Driving Tips

If you think that the occasional fender-bender or car wreck is an unavoidable part of being on the road, think again. By practicing safe driving habits, you can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a car accident. All of the high-tech gadgetry in the world can’t make up for common sense, especially when it comes to maneuvering a two-ton vehicle down the road. Safe driving habits don’t always come naturally, though; in fact, some of them are so basic that many people overlook them altogether.Keeping a car insurance policy does not give you a license to be careless on the road. In fact, avoiding accidents is exceptionally smart when you have to pay for auto insurance. By remaining accident-free, you’ll enjoy lower rates and save a lot of cash. Ideally, you shouldn’t ever have to file a claim due to a car accident. While there’s no surefire way to avoid collisions and other mishaps on the road, there are many small but important habits that you can develop that can dramatically reduce your risk.

When it comes to safe driving tips, there’s a lot of conflicting advice out there. The following five tips, though, are ones that every driver should know.

Tip #1: Don’t Speed

When you speed, you lose. That’s true not only financially – speeders tend to pay through the nose for tickets and higher insurance premiums – but in terms of safety, too. Some cynical folks believe that speed limits are strictly in place so that local municipalities can collect fines; in reality, they’re in place to keep drivers safe. By sticking to the spirit and the letter of the law, you can reduce your risk of accidents while on the road.

In the long run, speeding doesn’t bring any real benefits to the table – but it brings plenty of risks. At most, you can only hope to shave a tiny bit of time off of your drive by speeding. According to studies, for every extra mile per hour that you drive, though, your odds of being in an accident increase by four to five percent. In other words, that minute or two that you save could cost you pretty dearly.

Tip #2: Wear Your Seatbelt

Most states have aggressive seatbelt laws these days. That’s for a good reason: Seatbelts really do save lives. The nanosecond that it takes you to click your seatbelt on dramatically reduces your risk of being seriously injured – or even killed – in a car wreck. Indeed, statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, have shown that up to 50% of car accident fatalities involve motorists who weren’t buckled up.

As a driver, it’s easy to get into the habit of wearing your seatbelt. It’s also your responsibility to insist that your passengers wear theirs, too. While you can’t force someone to wear a seatbelt, you can refuse to drive them around if they aren’t buckled up. Also, teach children to get into the habit of using a seatbelt right from the start. By the time they’re old enough to drive, wearing a seatbelt will be like second nature to them.

Tip #3: Keep Distractions to a Minimum

While driving, it’s critical to keep all of your attention on the road. These days, cell phones and texting are two things that tend to needlessly distract drivers. Flipping the radio to a different station is one thing; looking into your lap to compose a text message while hurtling down the freeway at 70 miles per hour is another. In the few seconds that it takes you to push the “send” button, the situation on the road could change drastically. Make it a point to keep cell phones safely packed away while driving. Keep your hands on the wheel – and your eyes on the road – at all times.

Tip #4: Assume the Worst About Other Drivers

Assuming that other drivers are being safe and conscientious is a recipe for disaster. The best rule of thumb is to assume that other drivers aren’t being careful at all. This is an important part of the defensive driving philosophy, and it will spare you from a huge number of accidents. Just because you’re staying alert and obeying traffic laws doesn’t mean that others are doing the same.

Four-way stops are notorious examples of this concept. All too often, one driver assumes that another will stop; after all, he’s approaching a four-way stop. If you do this – and the approaching driver doesn’t stop, as expected – you could end up in an accident. Don’t assume that anyone is going to do the right thing; wait before proceeding through intersections and be prepared to hit the brakes at a second’s notice. Assume that other drivers are texting, doing their hair, drinking and driving or otherwise not engaging in safe driving habits.

Tip #5: Maintain a Safe Driving Distance

Nobody likes being tailgated. When you drive too closely behind other cars, your ability to respond swiftly and safely is dramatically reduced. There’s no telling when or if something will happen that will require the car ahead of you to slam his or her brakes. Countless accidents occur due to tailgating, so make it a point to maintain a safe driving distance. A good rule of thumb is known as the “three second rule.” While driving, choose a random stationary object on the side of the road. Note when the car in front of you passes it, then aim to pass it yourself after at least three seconds have passed. Double that time at night or in bad weather.

The preceding tips won’t guarantee that you’ll remain accident-free. However, they can significantly reduce your odds of being involved in fender-benders, wrecks and other mishaps. When you steer clear of that kind of trouble, you win in a couple of ways. First, you keep yourself and your passengers safe; second, you keep your car insurance rates low. What’s not to like about that? Keep these tips in mind to enjoy the best driving experience possible.

Written By: Sarah Montgomery

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