You’re already familiar with the basic rules of the road. And you’ve heard the horror stories on the news when someone gets into a tragic car accident. The fact is, most accidents can be avoided if people maintain “situational awareness” on the road.
Situational awareness means remaining aware of your own circumstances as well as those of the other drivers around you, road conditions, weather conditions, pedestrians, etc. Here are five important safety tips to keep in the forefront of your mind as you drive:
1. Drive Sober. Set limits for yourself, and make the commitment to not exceed your limits. Social drinking tends to be seasonal, and as the holidays approach there will be more get togethers for Thanksgiving, Christmas (or whichever religious holiday you observe), etc. After a long bout of “social distancing” throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, people are relieved to finally be able to socialize again. Just remember, your tolerance for alcohol may have dwindled after such a long “dry spell” of abstinence. That means the one or two cocktails you have at this year’s office party may have a more pronounced effect on your body. Remember, too, that even if you do not drink, there are thousands of other people who share the road with you, and they may not exercise the same good judgment you have. Maintain a vigilant awareness of erratic drivers, and exercise caution so you stay safe and healthy.
2. Seatbelts: Wear them! This goes beyond the whole “Click it or ticket” message. You’ve heard it, that “seatbelts save lives”. It’s true. Your airbag won’t stop you from getting thrown from your vehicle in a rollover accident. Likewise, you can get severely injured if your airbag deploys in a front end collision without wearing your seatbelt.
Accidents happen, and the likelihood that you’ll walk away from one with no (or only minor) injuries is pretty good if you’re wearing a seatbelt. And don’t forget your kids and pets, too. Child seats and pet restraints are essential to prevent injuries in an accident, as well as to reduce distractions while you drive.
Keep everyone safe.
3. Weather… as in “whether or not” to drive. Wet roads, icy roads, fog: you must keep the weather conditions in mind as you set out to drive. Are your wipers working? Do you have enough washer fluid? Are your tires in good shape, and properly inflated?
Driving is simple. Driving safely requires a bit of thought and preparation. In addition to your vehicle’s condition, you also need to factor in such considerations as speed, day-or-night driving, your physical condition of alertness or fatigue, and your experience with the driving weather. For example, if you haven’t driven much in snowy conditions, you may be unaware of hazards you might face. On the flip side, if you’ve driven in snow often, you might be over-confident and become careless. Keep yourself in check, and take deliberate measures to stay safe.
Realize that snow or puddles may hide large potholes that could cause damage to your vehicle or an accident. Know that you can’t see “black ice” which can cause you to instantly lose traction or control of your vehicle. Consider treating your windshield with a water beading treatment such as “Rain-X” (or comparable product) to enhance your visibility. And maintain a safe distance from other vehicles (always), especially in fog or poor lighting situations.
4. Recognize and avoid road hazards. You are already familiar with road hazard like potholes, railroad crossings, construction zones, tire debris, deer (and other animals), etc. They’re all hazards that lie within your field of vision as you drive. As a conscientious driver, you probably slow down and avoid potential disaster by keeping a safe distance based on road, whether, and lighting conditions.
However, many hazards aren’t on the road, itself. They can be above you. Among other things, consider the “Falling Rock” signs commonly found in mountainous or hilly terrain. Such hazards can be particularly dangerous after windy, rainy or icy conditions where falling debris gets dislodged. Some dangers are fairly permanent, such as the falling-rock hazard. Other dangers can be transitory, as in the case of a hail storm which can damage your car, smash your windshield, etc.
Whereas most hazards can be avoided (either by exercising good judgment by not driving in a hail storm or paying attention to road signs), some are virtually invisible. Take, for instance, a downed-tree that has fallen atop of powerlines during a storm. There’s a lot of weight just waiting to fall on top of an unsuspecting driver who passes beneath at exactly the wrong moment. Pay attention to your surroundings so you don’t become that driver.
5. Distracted Driving. Just don’t. Sounds simple enough, but the temptation is there. That’s why you need to create a “policy” for yourself, and commit to following it.
Yes, we’re all in a hurry from time to time. It can be easy to rationalize “one quick text”, or looking up a phone number while you’re on the road. Just don’t. The consequences (to yourself as well as others) are too dire to mention.
It’s better to pull over to send your text or make your call, arriving two or three minutes later than you would otherwise, than to get into an accident involving injury or death. Calling, texting, putting on makeup, eating a meal, etc. while driving can be a “terminal” decision. And if you’re in an accident, the repercussions can be life-changing. You could lose everything. It’s just not worth it. Likewise, be alert for others who may be driving distracted. Keep your distance and remain safe.
Be especially vigilant when driving in congested situations such as in city traffic or in school zones. It may not be another driver that you must avoid– it might be a pedestrian who is walking-while-texting, or a young child who excitedly darts out from between school busses to cross the parking lot on the schoolground. Again, think, and be situationally aware.
Stay aware of the above five pointers, and you’ll have a much safer driving experience. You’ll also avoid potential legal problems and enjoy better insurance rates by hopefully remaining accident-free. Always remember, it’s not just your own driving you need to be thinking about; it’s “the other guy” on the road, the unwary pedestrian, the road conditions, and the weather.
Learn more about how Bratton Insurance can safe you money on your vehicle coverage. Visit our Automobile Insurance page. And stay safe out there!
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