AD | Featured
“The one thing that unites all human beings, regardless of age, gender, religion, economic status, or ethnic background, is that, deep down inside, we all believe that we are above-average drivers.”
This quote from author Dave Barry eloquently sums up how Americans feel about their driving skills. According to a study from psychological scientists Michael M. Roy of Elizabethtown College and Michael J. Liersch of New York University, the majority of people classify themselves as safe drivers. This behaviour is known as illusory superiority but is often colloquially called the Lake Wobegon effect, a reference from the radio show A Prairie Home Companion. In the show, the fictional town of Lake Wobegon is described as a place where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.” But the data suggests otherwise.
The Harris Poll, a market research and analytics company, polled drivers and found that a high percentage of people admit to using unsafe driving practices regularly. The two don’t add up. So how can you ensure that you avoid accidents on U.S. roads and highways and don’t suffer the pain and trauma that auto accidents cause every day? Here are some easy and proven safety tips for drivers to follow when they get behind the wheel.
Focus on the Task
Driving is such a normal activity for most Americans that it’s easy to get distracted. But distracted driving is dangerous and can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 2,800 people died in auto accidents caused by distracted driving in 2018 alone. The term is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving and paying attention to your surroundings. This includes talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, working with the radio or stereo, calibrating an entertainment or navigation system, and anything else that takes your mind off of safe driving practices.
When you’re on the road, focus on getting to your destination safely. If you need to take a call or perform another task while on the road, pull over and park in a safe space before doing so.
Keep an Eye on Your Surroundings
Many people call this driver safety tip “defensive driving,” but the term doesn’t really explain the practice. The idea behind defensive driving is to watch others around you (cars, trucks, bikes, pedestrians, etc.) and anticipate or react to their movements in a timely manner. By doing this, a driver can avoid many accidents. Expect the drivers around you to make mistakes, because all you can control is your own actions.
Remember to keep plenty of space between you and other vehicles, use your blinkers to turn or switch lanes, let speeding vehicles go around you, and don’t tailgate. Cars and trucks are big, heavy machines that go really fast. Making sure yours stops, starts, and operates safely around other vehicles is very important.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Although it seems obvious, this driving safety tip cannot be left out. Seat belts save lives, and all 50 states have seat belt laws. It’s the easiest thing you can do as a driver or a passenger to ensure your safety when in any vehicle. According to NHTSA, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2016 alone, and a further 2,500 could have survived if they had buckled up before their trip.
Seat belt safety also means making sure kids of all ages have the proper safety restraints. The American Academy of Pediatrics has a set of recommendations for car seats and seat belts for infants, toddlers, and young children based on age and weight. They have an easy-to-understand guide that you can find here. NHTSA makes it clear that seat belts are the single most effective safety technology for all vehicles. Between 1960 and 2012, seat belts saved more lives than all other technologies combined.
Obey the Rules of the Road
From speed limits to roundabouts, obeying traffic laws and practising general driving etiquette is an important safety tip for drivers. Obey all your state’s Department of Motor Vehicle rules and regulations, such as stopping at stop signs, yielding when indicated, and obeying traffic lights.
Another seemingly obvious driving safety tip is to obey speed limits. Many people might treat them as a suggestion, but a speed limit is posted to keep traffic flowing safely along a particular stretch of road or highway. If you exceed the speed limit, you’ve broken the law. No one is perfect when it comes to staying exactly on a posted number at all times, but the data doesn’t lie. NHTSA studies prove that for more than two decades, speeding has been involved in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities.
While using these driver safety tips can help you avoid some accidents, the fact is that accidents happen every day, no matter how safe someone drives. Having a plan for dealing with the aftermath of a collision is also important. For example, being involved in a semi-truck accident can weigh heavily on persons involved in that sort of accident, checking to make sure everyone is okay should be the first step.
Keep an emergency kit in your car or truck, one with basic car repair tools and flares or luminescent glow sticks for night incidents. Have a basic first aid pack to deal with immediate injury needs. And in the days and weeks after your accident, you may need to seek the advice of a semi truck accident lawyer to discuss insurance settlements and other liability issues.