Safe driving amounts to a lot more than just taking a course in driver education; it also consists of the one thing that driving schools can’t teach you, using your common sense. Always think, think, think, and never just react. Remember that the best driver is the one who’s always on the alert, watching the traffic, road conditions, the behavior of the other drivers, in general paying attention to everything around him. Here are some tips to help you drive safely:
1. Wear Your Seat Belt Properly
While driving lessons all stress the importance of wearing your seat belt, what they fail to tell you is that in order for it to be effective you also have to wear it the way it was meant to be worn. You should fasten your lap and shoulder belts tightly but comfortably, and keep the lap belt on your hips, it should not lie on your stomach or thighs.
2. Examine Your Tires
Check your tires on a regular basis to see if the treads are wearing down, of if there are any cracks or puncture marks you aren’t aware of. Also buy a tire gauge, you can get a cheap one, and check your tire pressure often. The recommended pressure is usually found inside the door of your car, or if you don’t see it there then in your owner’s manual.
3. Pay Attention to the Weather
Rain: If you’re driving in the rain and it’s looking stormy out, you should turn your headlights on even if it is daylight. Rain and darkening skies can obscure your vision and you should take every precaution to ensure that you’ll be able to see what’s going on in front of you. Also, if your windows start fogging up keep the defroster on and if that doesn’t work try the air conditioner. You can also open a window just a crack.
Fog: If the fog is especially bad, then make every effort you can not to drive in it. All the driving schools will tell you that. But if you can’t avoid doing so, then put your headlights on regular or low beam. In the case of visibility deteriorating to the point that you don’t feel safe driving, then pull off onto the side of the road and wait it out.
Snow: Take it slow if you have to drive in snowy or icy conditions. Keep your headlights on and your foot on the brake. Leave extra space between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Also, watch the road carefully for sudden changes like a patch of ice.
4. Look Both Ways at Intersections
Now that’s something you’ve heard often if you’ve taken driving lessons. Wait a bit and don’t pull out after stopping for a stop sign or traffic light until you’re positive the other drivers are stopping or yielding.
5. Stay Awake
If it’s late at night or very early in the morning and you find yourself having to drive, but starting to drift off, behind the wheel do one of the following:
- Open a window or even turn the air conditioner on, for some fresh air.
- Pull over to the side of the road and take a break.
- If you’re lucky enough to be driving with a companion, then share the driving.