Each year, over six million minor to serious automotive accidents are reported throughout the United States. Far too often, the collisions result in extensive vehicle damage, serious injuries and even loss of life. Although much blame goes to the involved vehicles, driver error and risk miscalculations are cited most often as the actual cause of the accidents. Thankfully, you can utilize this knowledge to make a few key adjustments to your driving habits to reduce your crash risk. To ensure these habits stick, make each one a New Year resolution for a safe and happy 2017. Here are eight important safe driving resolutions you can utilize to improve your safety on the road this year and beyond.
Maintain and Utilize Your Lights
Your ability to properly signal turns, stops and emergency maneuvers depends on the proper function of your blinkers, taillights and hazard lights. You can verify these systems work by asking someone to activate them for you while you take a walk around your vehicle. During your brief inspection, also make sure your light housings are clear of debris and damage.
If you notice any damage, including standing water in the housing, talk to your auto body technician to acquire repairs. After verifying your lights are in working order, always use them to indicate your intent while driving. Also, remember to flip on your headlights in inclement weather and right before dusk to keep your vehicle highly visible to other vehicles and pedestrians.
Redirect Your Attention to the Road Ahead
Each year, just over 400,000 people are injured in accidents involving distracted drivers. With mobile entertainment on the rise, this number will likely continue to increase unless drivers commit to redirecting their attention to the road ahead. Although texting remains a talking point when it comes to driving safety, other forms of distraction may include:
Talking with others
Changing radio stations
Inputting navigation information
To dramatically improve your safety while driving, you can simply pull over momentarily to complete these actions. Upon returning your attention to the road, signal and merge back into traffic to safely continue on your way.
Adhere to Safe Following Distances
Many people forget to utilize the three second rule while driving, which can result in unsafe following distances. While following other cars too close, you may not have enough time to stop if a hazard appears in front of the vehicles in your path.
To give yourself enough time to stop, follow at a three second delay when driving on dry surfaces in low traffic conditions. To check your following distance, pick a stationary object ahead and start counting when the vehicle in front of you passes it by. If you pass that object before three seconds have passed, you will need to briefly slow down to adjust your following distance. In hazardous weather, heavy traffic or other potentially risky driving situations, increase your following distance even further.
Resist the Urge to Speed
Although speeding often feels like it gets you to your destination much faster than normal, the truth is that even a 20 MPH increase in speed does very little for your arrival time. If you are traveling 10 miles to your destination, driving 20 MPH over the speed limit of 55 MPH will only save you just under three minutes total. Your risk of getting into a collision, however, doubles with each 5 MPH increase in speed. The risk of sustaining fatal injuries also increases for not just you and your passengers, but other vehicles and pedestrians in your path.
Utilize Your High-Tech Safety Features
If you have a vehicle built in the last five years, you likely have access to a half dozen or more dedicated high-tech safety systems. The time you put into utilizing your lane departure warnings, blind spot alerts and parking assist features will help you avoid collisions in both low and high risk situations. To ensure you respond to the warnings and alerts appropriately, you should practice the use of these systems in an empty parking lot or side street. Travel at a low speed during your practice session to avoid feeling overwhelmed with the flashing lights or audible alerts when they suddenly occur.
Commit to Safe Merging Practices
Although it is viewed as rude at first blush, the zipper merge technique is actually the most efficient and safest way to combine two lanes of traffic. Instead of stopping short to merge into the continuing lane early, simply stay in the lane until arrows appear. Then, turn on your blinker and slow down to match your speed with the vehicles in the adjacent lane before smoothly merging over. If you are already in the continuing lane, move your vehicle forward at a steady, predictable pace and leave enough room for one car to zip in at the merge point.
Vow to Stay Right Unless Passing
While driving down roadways with two or more lanes on each side, you can stay out of the way of fast moving vehicles by piloting your vehicle in the right lane unless you are passing. By traveling in the right lane, you mitigate the risks associated with speed differences between two or more vehicles. Left lane drivers will be able to blast past you without weaving around vehicles, which will also help prevent your involvement in a collision. This practice will help you stay out of legal trouble as well, as it is illegal in many areas to remain in the left lane indefinitely.
Show Respect for Fellow Drivers
Displaying respect for your fellow drivers can help set the tone for your entire drive. You can show your respect for other drivers by offering a wave as thanks for facilitating lane changes and merges. When you notice another driver making a mistake, pilot your vehicle out of harm’s way and remain vigilant. Pointing out the mishap by honking, yelling or gesturing will only increase stress levels and heighten emotions for all parties involved. Your positive attitude can help you avoid road rage prone drivers while keeping your own stress levels low throughout the drive.
Despite your vigilance, you may still find yourself involved in an automotive accident at some point in your life. When an accident occurs, reduce your stress levels by assigning the necessary repair tasks to the qualified professionals at Badell’s Collision in Aston and Malvern, PA. You can promptly receive an auto body repair quote by filling out the online form with your contact information.