Driving is composed of several skills that you, as a human, already possess.
In fact, you use these skills every day doing other ordinary things with your five senses plus your intuition.
Yes, you use intuition and judgment in your driving.
Otherwise, you just learn to develop your senses differently, and soon enough, you’ll be driving.
Then, you need to learn the rules of the road for your country and city and the elements of safety behind the wheel.
Here, you’ll learn ten ways to be safe.
How Hard Is Driving?
1. Focus On The Moment And Anticipate The Future
What does this mean?
It means you have to focus solely on what is going on around you.
If you’re a newbie driver, or you are prone to distraction, you’ll want to keep the radio off.
Also, your phone should always be far from your hands.
Focusing on the now means you are in control of every movement around you and can maintain the ability to react quickly to any situation that might arise.
If you don’t focus, you’re at risk for an accident.
Anticipating the future means you are looking at the drivers in front of you and using your mirrors frequently to assess your surroundings.
This may sound hard, but it’s not.
It just means you are ready in case another driver stops suddenly or cuts you off, among many other things that can happen.
Typically, nothing will be happening on the daily, but it only takes one to end in tragedy.
Vigilance is key.
You must also anticipate road conditions ahead.
Yes, there are many apps that can help you understand what’s going on.
However, it’s best to get trained to use your eyes instead.
Apps are helpful for long-haul travel, but not for day-to-day in-town driving.
It’s important to use your own eyes because you don’t want to dull your senses and miss something.
2. Alertness Differs From Focus But Just As Important
A lot of things can ruin your alertness.
Being sleepy or driving under the influence of anything, even prescription drugs, is extremely dangerous.
Otherwise, recreational drugs and alcohol are another dangerous combination.
Other things you wouldn’t normally think of can cause a lack of alertness.
Daydreamers are plentiful in this society.
With all we have to think about from day to day, it’s easy to get completely distracted by your own mind and have an accident on the way to work because you’re anticipating your day or thinking about what happened the night before.
It’s natural for our brains to take the wheel of our life, but when we’re driving, this is dangerous and unacceptable.
If you aren’t alert at all times, you are inviting the same disastrous results as when you have a lack of focus.
The lack of both focus and alertness can cause sudden accidents.
The lack of alertness will cause you to be blindsided by another car or maybe even a pedestrian.
You may even wander off the side of the road without noticing before it’s too late.
Lack of alertness and focus in the moment can cost lives, injury, and money for yourself and others.
Accidents that happen because of something preventable can change your life in a heartbeat.
3. Driving For Other Drivers
Yes, drive for other drivers.
People often think they are fantastic drivers, and it’s not practical to try to convince them otherwise because you’ll offend them.
The only thing you can control is how you anticipate the movements of and respond to other drivers.
Again, this may make driving seem hard, but it’s a matter of practice and instinct.
If you’re a newbie driver, then you may want to practice all these principles, especially this one by starting with very small trips.
Go from your house to the store down the street instead of driving solo across town to school or work first.
Stick with the speed limit, stay alert and focused, and pay close attention to the surrounding drivers.
Always stay relaxed.
Don’t try to guess what every driver is going to do.
Just note the surrounding movements.
Ask yourself, “Did you know that the driver next to you was going to pass you before they did?”
We’re not saying that you have to be psychic.
We’re saying you need to take stock in anticipating movements by looking at the car and sometimes the driver.
Here’s an example.
Drivers are notorious for not using turn signals when switching lanes.
There are other telltale signs that the driver is about to switch lanes in front of you.
They may look over their shoulder first, or you may notice the front tire turning slightly before their car follows.
This gives you time to anticipate the move.
4. Maintain The Vehicle Properly
According to the DOT, driver error causes 90% of accidents.
That means that you are in control of your destiny behind the wheel most of the time and can prevent things from happening.
The first three points are the most important ones to remember.
If you get in the car and have other priorities apart from driving safely, you are dropping your control statistics by more than half.
That means you’re raising your chances of an accident by quite a lot as well.
Maintaining your vehicle properly is also important.
Apart from driver error, an improperly maintained vehicle can be a death trap.
Some states and counties do not have vehicle inspections as part of their routine road legalities.
In these places, you’ll see that people put anything that will run out on the road.
Though vehicle inspection is expensive in some areas, it’s even more expensive to fix cars that are not roadworthy.
In addition, a car that doesn’t have good tires can cause skidding, spinning out, and the inability to stop on a dime.
The same goes for the brakes.
Inspect your brakes and have them tested when you get your oil changed.
Conversely, get them checked out anytime you hear a noise, like a squeak or a grinding sound.
If you have issues stopping, especially in inclement weather, accidents can happen.
5. Seatbelts Really Can Save Lives
There are always arguments surrounding seatbelts and motorcycle helmets.
We do know that you are better off than not in most cases.
This is especially true if you are a newbie driver, even if you’re dead set against seatbelts.
The beginning of your journey as a driver is where you’ll make mistakes.
If you’re too seasoned a driver, you’ll make mistakes out of overconfidence.
We say you’re better safe than sorry.
6. Never Tailgate
Tailgating is when you drive too close to the backend of someone else’s car.
This causes a lot of issues.
The most obvious is the risk of crashing into the back of the car in front of you if they should slam on the brakes.
You are considered at fault most times, even if they stop short illegally.
The police will charge you with at least a portion of the accident. Your insurance rates will skyrocket from there.
It’s not worth it.
Here’s what happens when you tailgate and an accident happens.
Insurance is a problem from there.
Your premium will go up, or they will cancel you.
The action depends both on the law and the insurance company.
Your record now has an issue, and they place points on your driver’s license, and you have to show up in court.
They must spend time and money on something preventable.
The record and expense will follow you for many years, if not for as long as you have a license.
You can mitigate or prevent some of these inconveniences, but it will cost you more time and money with no guarantee of success.
It’s best if you just hang back and give the other drivers room.
We know some people can be impatient and believe the other drivers will move faster if we intimidate them by tailgating.
This action only sends the message that they should go slower.
It’s human nature, so just avoid it.
Bodily injury in accidents that involve being rear-ended can be life changing if not life ending.
Tailgating shouldn’t do that, depending on your speed, but another driver and you can end up with back issues that could rob you of work, money, or wellbeing.
7. Speed Does Kill And Change Lives
According to studies, 31% of all fatal accidents are because of speeding.
You don’t have to be well above the speed limit to be in danger.
As a driver, you are in control of a two-ton vehicle.
That’s a lot of heavy metal, gas, and oil which are volatile.
To have an impact at higher than 30 miles per hour can be deadly.
Don’t let your eyes fool you.
The sheer weight of a vehicle that’s thrown off balance is deadly.
It’s about physics, not how slow a car looks as it’s moving.
Most crashes happen suddenly and at speed.
Even if you’re fast on the brake, just stopping a car at speed can throw it into a spin that’s too fast for you to stop.
Speed and weather are not good bedfellows.
You may be the best in rainy weather and become overconfident.
This means you haven’t been in the wrong situation and had to slam on your brakes in this kind of weather.
If you have done this without incident, you’ve been lucky.
Only a limited percentage of that has been about skill and the rest depends on the conditions.
Keep a few things in mind.
First, it only takes once.
If the typical elements you are used to driving under change, you’re in trouble.
You may not be aware of that change until it’s too late.
Second, if you are traveling in unfamiliar territory, the risk is higher.
Bottom line: err on the side of caution and obey the speed limit.
8. Drive Defensively
Defensive driving means something different to everyone.
Make sure you know that staying calm during aggressive driving tactics is the key.
When you hear the term “defensive,” you may think the opposite, that it’s you who must drive aggressively.
This is not true.
You must be calm and predict the actions of other drivers and make decisions fast and safely.
Accidents caused by aggressive drivers and those who panic are common and preventable.
These are silly accidents.
Unfortunately, they can be fatal and for no other reason than people can do unnecessary things on the road.
There is no excuse for aggressive driving.
People do it.
Learn to circumvent it with defensive driving.
The aforementioned points cover most of the elements of defensive driving, but there are a few more.
Covering blind spots is an important point.
When a driver is passing you, you won’t see them for a second or two.
This is enough to cause a terrible accident if you collide at speed.
Be sure to be aware of your periphery.
You can add a small mirror on the far tip of the side mirrors to aid you in seeing the blind spot.
This is the most common area.
Move them to suit your blind spots.
Approach intersections cautiously.
Always reduce speed and follow these next few tips.
You may not realize it, but red light runners are common and the cause of many fatal accidents.
It’s a preventable danger with defensive driving.
Reduce your speed at intersections and look both ways, even if the light is green or you have the right of way.
Not everyone will obey either of those things.
Here’s the most important one that people get themselves in trouble with.
When you approach an intersection with a light, and the light turns green before you get to where you can see the oncoming traffic, slow down considerably.
Don’t speed up as most people do because you may run into the red light runner on the other side.
Also, don’t depend on lights being perfectly timed everywhere.
9. Fortify Your Car With Safety Systems
Your car can come with safety features that can reduce the effects of a crash or aid in the prevention thereof.
Safety for children is a big concern, so get the correct child restraints for their age and face the child seat the right way as instructed by your car’s and the child seat’s manufacturers.
10. Use Your Blinkers And Yield When In Doubt
To err on the side of safety, use your blinkers at all times, and yield when in doubt.
We don’t always remember all the rules of the road.
When driving in unfamiliar places, you may not know who has the right of way.
Here, it is best to yield.
Blinkers are an essential part of driving safely.
Use them whenever you are making a turn or changing lanes.
The key is timing.
You should use your blinker 100 feet before turning and 900 feet before passing or exiting a highway.
Using your blinker at these points will allow other drivers around you to make the best decision (or worst, unfortunately) on how to deal with your impending movement.
Driving is a skill and an art.
You learn new things about driving the more years you drive.
There are common sense steps, like the ones mentioned in this article, that you can take to keep yourself safe and your insurance premiums down.