While you may not realize it every time you get into your car, driving an automobile is a privilege and carries with it many responsibilities. An automobile is a powerful and potentially dangerous machine, both for yourself and those around you. You should only operate an automobile with caution, giving it your entire attention. Here are some general tips to ensure a safe and rewarding driving experience. Many may seem like common sense, but even the most experienced driver can be refreshed every so often.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has many helpful guidelines for the safe use of the road. This information can be found at:www.nhtsa.dot.gov/portal/site/nhtsa/menuitem.5928da45f99592381601031046108a0c/
A Lengthy List of Things You Should Do While Driving
- Wear your safety belt. Put it own before you turn the car on.
- Make sure that children in your car are placed in the proper restraining devices. State laws are usually quite clear with regard to the age/weight at which a child must be in a car seat. There are no exceptions! However, also do what you can to make the ride comfortable for children, including stopping to expend pent-up energy.
- Know the traffic rules for your state and local jurisdiction. Never looked at them? You should.
- Follow the posted speed limit.
- Exercise caution at all times. Drivers often go on “auto-pilot,” particularly in areas that are familiar, contributing to many preventable accidents.
- Respect and yield to pedestrians. They have the right-of-way on crosswalks!
- Watch out for cyclists and give them room on the road.
- Treat other drivers as you would like to be treated. Remember the appreciation that you have when a driver is courteous to you and try to treat other drivers in the same way.
- Pay all fines you incur and pay them promptly.
- Always be prepared for the worst. Carry an accident-kit, a spare tire, and a working jack. You should know where these things are and how to use them if necessary. In the case of an accident, being prepared makes all the difference in the world.
- Keep up on the regular maintenance of your car. An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure… and less expensive in the long run.
- Plan your trips well and always make sure that you have a road map or atlas. Batteries die and satellite navigation systems fail but a map will always get you where you need to go.
- Never drink and drive or enter a vehicle with a person under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Always exercise caution when dealing with other motorists. Don’t make assumptions about what they will do. A turning signal does not necessarily mean they are going to turn. It is best to give other drivers enough space to make mistakes.
- Use your turning signals. Don’t expect other drivers to know what you are going to do.
- Never break a traffic law intentionally. Don’t tailgate, drive or pass on the shoulder, or fail to yield. Never, even if you do not see any other motorists, run a stoplight or stop sign. The laws were written for a reason. That reason is your safety and the safety of other drivers. Don’t compromise that safety by breaking the law.
- Keep your car sound system at a reasonable volume. If you blare it, not only can it disrupt and upset others, but it may also prevent you from hearing horns, emergency sirens, and train signals. Hearing is essential to safe driving.
- Do not use your cell-phone when driving. Do not call, text-message, use the internet, or any other wonderful function of your phone while driving. If you need to use you phone, pull over to a safe location. While hands-free devices are helpful and often legal, they still provide a distraction.
- Do not do other things while driving. It is unsafe and foolish to eat, change your clothes, brush your teeth, shave, put on make-up, or engage in any other similar activities while driving. It many states these actions can be ticketed. They compromise your attention and are very dangerous. Driving requires you complete attention.
- Remember that your car is a powerful machine, not a toy. Do not use it to play chicken, race, or to intentionally frighten people (such as rapidly pulling toward them and slamming on the brakes). Do not lightly bump other vehicles.
- Resist road rage. Your emotions should not govern you while driving. Ignore irritating drivers, don’t stoop to their level. Do not take the foolish actions of other drivers to be challenges. Do not try to “get back” at other drivers. Road rage is extremely dangerous.