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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Five habits to cultivate for safer driving

As we become more experienced drivers, we can become overconfident in the amount of control we have as drivers, and can drop some of the habits that have been keeping us safe. It may have been years since we had an accident, or even a close-call, and so we become blissfully ignorant of the risks of driving. Becoming sloppy in this regard can cost us financially and personally; consistently driving without taking proper safety precautions will likely lead you to be involved in an accident. Or, you may find yourself on the receiving end of an expensive ticket. At any rate, it's important for us to revisit and recultivate these habits.

1. Obey speed limits
Excessive speed is a factor in one-third of all fatal crashes, yet most people admit to speeding on a regular basis. Speeding is dangerous because it makes it more difficult to spot and react to conditions on the road. The faster you're going, the less likely you'll be able to react to a stalled car in your lane or a patch of ice in your path. In winter especially, speeding should be avoided at all costs. It usually doesn't get you to your destination any quicker, since most cities have timed lights which favour people going the speed limit, and it puts you and everyone else on the road at risk.

2. Cut out distractions
Followers of our blog may be getting tired of all the articles we write on the dangers of distracted driving, but it is a serious problem that has only recently been getting attention. In the US, 20% of injury crashes involve reports of distracted driving. While you may not think that programming your GPS or fiddling with your iPod is a serious threat to your safety, the statistics show otherwise.

3. Maintain safe distances with other vehicles
Following the driver ahead of you too closely is one of the worst habits you can develop as a driver. Not only does it put you in danger, but it directly threatens the safety of the person ahead of you. If they were to  slow down quickly to react to road conditions, you could rear end them and injure both parties. If someone is driving too slowly in the passing lane, a quick tap on the horn will let them know that they should be in the right-hand lane. If you aren't sure whether you're following too closely, try this trick: count the seconds it takes for your car to pass the same fixed object that the car ahead of you just passed. If it is less than two seconds, you're tailgating. In poor weather, there should be four seconds between you and the car ahead.

4. Use your signal
Signalling is one of the simplest habits to implement. You literally only have to lift a pinkie to signal properly. Signalling lets other drivers know when you're changing lanes or turning. In city driving, where you may have to slow down abruptly to turn, it's important that you let the driver behind you know. Otherwise, you may find yourself in rear-ended!

5. Plan ahead when you know you'll be consuming alcohol
After having a few drinks at the bar, it's easy to think that you haven't had "too much." Despite how you may feel, remember that you should not drive for at least two hours after having a drink. Make your life easier and take a taxi or walk home -- it's simply not worth the risk of getting a DUI offense and having your license revoked, or causing an accident because of your negligence.

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