When behind the wheel of a vehicle, pay attention to the road and your surroundings. Check your mirrors and your blind spots frequently so that you know where all the cars surrounding your own are located at all times. Watch for brake lights ahead of you or motorists that are slowing down. If it is necessary to send a text message, make a phone call, or study a map, pull over to do it.
Do not drive when you are impaired. This means you should not be at the wheel if you have been drinking or using drugs, but it also means that you should not drive when you are overly tired. If you grow sleepy, your reaction time is slowed. You can also fall asleep, especially on long, dark stretches of highway. Even nodding off for a few seconds can have disastrous results, such as being jolted awake when a wheel drops off the roadbed and losing control when you over-correct.
Take frequent breaks on long trips. About every two hours, stop for ten or fifteen minutes. Get out of the car and walk around. Have a cup of coffee or a light snack. Take a quick lap around the parking lot. It may seem that this is going to delay your arrival, but if your car is disabled in an accident, you will be delayed even more.
Plan your route ahead of time. Download directions from an online mapping service or study a traditional map. Make mental notes on where you will need to turn. Estimate how long it will take you to make the trip and then add about 25 percent to the time. Work backwards from your desired arrival time to determine when you should leave.
If you have the option, avoid getting behind the wheel in bad weather, rush-hour traffic, and around the time that the bars close in your area. Accidents increase when it is raining and skyrocket when the roads are icy. Rush hour places more cars in your path, and many of the drivers are running late to get to work or to pick up children at the end of the day. Around the time the bars close, you will find more drivers on the road who have been drinking. While they might not be legally intoxicated, they may still have impaired reflexes, so it is best to stay out of their way if you can.
Keep your windshield clean, both inside and out. Dirt and grime can interfere with your vision, particularly when the sun strikes it at just the right angle. Keep a package of pre-moistened glass wipes in your car and use them to improve visibility. Do not, however, try to clean your windshield while you are driving. Pull over to take care of the chore.
Driving friendly is part of driving safely. From the point of view of an accident, it does not matter who is right and who is wrong. Let a tailgater pass or pull over instead of accelerating. If you are at a four-way stop and a driver goes out of turn, let him have the right-of-way. Move to the right-hand lane if you are moving slower than the rest of the traffic. Use your turn signals to telegraph your intentions, but do not assume that others will yield to you. Stay alert, stay calm, and stay accident-free.
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Article Added on Monday, April 23, 2012
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