Responsible driving habits are essential to keeping the roads safe. Every year, nearly 33,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes. An additional 6,337 people are injured in crashes daily. In 94 percent of all crashes, human error is to blame, including errors such as distractions, inadequate surveillance, and inattention. You can stay safer on the road and improve your driving skills by practicing these safe driving habits.
- Don’t drive drunk: Drunk driving is always a bad choice. This bad driving habit kills more than 10,000 people every year. You should never drink and drive. Instead, you should plan how to get home safely and avoid driving under the influence of drugs.
- Don’t drive distracted: Texting and driving can be fatal. Nine Americans are killed every day in distracted driving accidents. Annually, distracted driving is a factor in 3,154 fatalities and 424,000 injuries. That’s 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes. Never text behind the wheel and avoid distracted driving habits including eating, smoking, talking on the phone and using GPS. It’s a good idea to keep your phone out of reach so you won’t be tempted to use it while you’re driving.
- Avoid speeding: Speeding is a factor in 28 percent of all crashes in the United States and it is the leading cause of fatal crashes. For every mile per hour you drive over the speed limit, your crash risk increases incrementally. Slow down and obey posted speed limits. You should travel at a safe speed for conditions, slowing down if there’s traffic or difficult weather to deal with.
- Don’t tailgate: Tailgating is a dangerous driving habit, as it closes the gap between you and the driver in front of you. If they stop suddenly, you may not have enough time to slow down before you hit them. You should leave at least two seconds of travel time in between you and the car in front of you.
- Avoid aggressive driving: Speeding, failing to yield proper right of way, weaving in and out of lanes, and cutting off other drivers can be very aggressive. These actions can bring about road rage even in otherwise calm drivers, leading to a dangerous situation. You should stay calm on the road and avoid or move over for other drivers who are behaving aggressively.
- Wear a seat belt: Seat belts have saved thousands of lives. They keep you restrained during an accident, preventing you from being thrown from your vehicle or becoming a projectile, hitting your dashboard or other surfaces inside. Every time you get in your vehicle, use your seat belt and insist that passengers do so as well. You should wear your seat belt so that the shoulder belt rests and your shoulder and in the middle of your chest, while your lap belt sits snugly on your hips.
- Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists: Every seven minutes, a pedestrian is injured. Every two hours, one is killed. Pedestrians are at a safety disadvantage against drivers, so drivers should take care to watch out for pedestrians and avoid collisions with them. Staying vigilant in looking out for pedestrians is important, as is following traffic signs and signals. You should always give pedestrians the right of way and follow speed limits. Avoid distractions and never drink and drive.
- Take extra care in school zones: School zones have lower speeds for a good reason. Children may not be as careful as adults when walking in and around roadways, so it’s up to drivers to be extra alert and slow down. Children may run into the street without looking and without warning. Look for pedestrians in and out of crosswalks around schools. And of course, be sure to avoid distracted driving and observe cell phone laws for school zones.
- Don’t run red lights: More than 900 people are killed every year as a result of red light running, often pedestrians or passengers. These accidents are especially dangerous as vehicles are hit broadside close to passengers without the crumple zones of a front or back bumper. You should always observe traffic signals and plan how you’ll make your way through an intersection. Don’t try to outrun yellow lights. Slow down for stale green lights and be ready to stop. It’s also a good idea to pause before you head through an intersection, as cars may be traveling through and pose a hazard. Look both ways, then proceed.