As teenagers anxiously waiting to take our driver’s license test, we scour the handbook of laws. Yet, as soon as that license is in our hands, many of us promptly forget the rules of the road.
It’s common to feel like the safety rules are for everyone but you because you’re a good driver. When you feel above the law, you do things like push the speed limit, send the occasional text, and otherwise get distracted.
Those two-second (or longer) distractions can be deadly.
Driving guidelines were created for a reason—to prevent accidents. If you want to stay safe on the highway, live by these essential safety rules.
It used to be the “don’t drink and drive” rule, but it’s been expanded to fit today’s culture. Now, a general “stay sober,” meaning don’t drive under the influence of anything, is required.
An estimated 28% of accidents are caused by someone impaired at the time of the crash. An average of 29 people per day are killed because of this problem.
In a society where many people take prescription painkillers or legalized marijuana, then get behind the wheel, alcohol isn’t the only issue we have. Safety rule number one: Never drive if you are under the influence of any substance.
With 28% of accidents caused by impaired drivers, that still leaves 72% that are the fault of people completely sober. What could cause that many drivers to make dangerous mistakes?
Most of these people didn’t have their full attention on the road. When they were distracted, they caused an accident. Eight people a day are killed in distracted driving crashes, and many of them were pedestrians walking or biking.
This definition refers to driving while engaged in any other activity that keeps you from paying attention to the road.
Sometimes, accidents are no one’s “fault.” Blind spots happen. You weren’t distracted; the other car was not visible.
Unfortunately, this may still end up being your fault legally. As the driver, you are supposed to use your mirrors to look to the left, look to the right, and then look to the left again before switching lanes (looking twice).
The “look twice, save a life” slogan is also used for motorcycle safety. There are fewer of these accidents overall each year. However, a crash involving a biker is 28 times more likely to result in death.
Be aware of your blind spots and small vehicles or bikes that could be hiding.
Road signs make up a big percentage of your driver’s test. Passing the test means we know what they mean, but we don’t all follow them.
Speed limit signs are the main example. It’s so common to go “five over” that most cops won’t even pull you over for this violation. But the speed limits weren’t set to annoy you.
They were chosen as the maximum speed a car could go in that area safely. Going over by any extra speed makes it more likely you’ll get in an accident.
Other often-ignored signs include slowing down for curves, complete stopping at a stop sign (California stops don’t count), and slowing down for yellow lights. Instead, some drivers see it as a challenge to get through the light before it turns red.
Pay attention to the signs and follow them, especially when you’re on a busy highway.
Roads are for public use. However, when someone is on the highway in a hurry or in a bad mood, they may be driving erratically. You still have to share the road with them.
Keep at least a car length between you and them. If they’re swerving, try to get out of the way as safely as you can.
You don’t have to agree with their driving habits. Instead of making it worse with your own road rage, avoid the other car.
If their driving is seriously dangerous and you think they may cause an accident, get their license plate and make and model of the car. Pull over where you can or get off on the next exit and call the local law enforcement.
Most people want to get to their destination safely, though. Let everyone on the road have their fair share, including bicyclists and motorcyclists.
The first car accident in history was in 1891 when the driver of the vehicle hit a tree root. Since then, car accidents have become significantly more dangerous and cause much more damage.
By following these five basic safety tips, you’ll avoid crashes without realizing it. In fact, the next accident you prevent could have saved your own life.