When you are out on the road, potential dangers await you at every turn. Other drivers may be aggressively speeding, unable to stay in one lane, tailgating, turning and changing lanes without proper signaling…the list could go on and on. While you cannot place yourself in a protective bubble shielding you from all possible damage, there are plenty of strategies for maximizing your safety and minimizing accidents and injuries.
A lot of people look at their time behind the wheel as an opportunity to multi-task—talking on the phone, texting, eating and applying make-up are some of the most popular. Driving requires a great deal of focus and the more that focus is shifted to something else, the more danger you put yourself and other drivers in. This is an obvious one so maybe giving you some interesting facts will really drive the point home.
North American-based insurance company Allianz notes that use of cell phones increases the risk of an accident by two to five times; concentrating on a phone call impairs your driving ability by the same factor as having a blood alcohol level of .08—which is right at the cutoff of the legal limit in the United States. Distraction.gov, a site run by the US government, reports that reading or sending texts takes your eyes of the road for at least 4.6 seconds; at speeds of 55 mph, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field blindfolded.
Concentrate on the Horizon, Not Just the Car Directly in Front of You
Maintain ‘’high eyes’’ a term used by racecar drivers that denotes focusing on the road horizon. When you are just concentrating on the car in front of you and following their lead—brake when they brake, speed up when they speed up—their screwing up makes it more likely you will screw up too! By concentrating on the overall traffic pattern, you will be better equipped to handle any issues that come up.
Keep a Safe Distance from the Cars In Front Of You
Keeping a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you will minimize the risk of an accident. Grant Yuan, a driving expert who contributes to SeattleAuto.net reports that most experts recommend staying at least 4 seconds behind but he recommends 2 to 3 seconds as a greater amount of time may invite people to cut in front of you, a maneuver that also increases the risk of an accident. If you have an SUV, however, stick to at least 4 since a heavier vehicle takes more time to completely stop.
Considerations for Lane Changing
You are safest when you stick to one lane, driving at the speed limit; minimizing lane changes cuts the risk of many common causes of accidents, such as switching lanes when being in a driver’s blind spot or accidentally cutting someone off.
While you are driving happily along in the same lane, you need to be vigilant about staying out of other people’s blind spots when they switch lanes. If you are in a driver’s blind spot, get the car parallel to theirs so they can easily see you or slow down so you are now behind them.
Do Not Hesitate to Yield
Who has the right of way sometimes can be confusing. How many times have you encountered a situation where you and another car were entering the same space at the same time and you were not sure who should go first? When in doubt, it never hurts to yield to the other person. You are a lot safer keeping your car where it is than trying to be the first one out or wrongly guessing the other drive is going to yield to you.
Many think that driving is a kind of a crapshoot where you are in constant danger from other drivers on the road, but this is not entirely true. By doing all you can to stay safe, you up the odds of a safe and pleasant driving experience.
Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who enjoys helping her clients get more exposure for their businesses. If you are interested in getting multiple quotes from Canadian car insurance carriers, check out Kanetix to find the perfect policy for you.