8 Rules to Follow for Safe Driving

Do you think of yourself as a considerate driver? At the least, you likely aspire to join the ranks of thoughtful motorists. Safe drivers are defensive of their vehicle and protective of their passengers. It's the best way to guarantee that you aren't in any accidents. Plus, you prevent any of your fellow drivers from suffering a bout of road rage. It's win/win behavior, and it's easy to accomplish. Here are eight essential safe driving techniques and rules to follow.

Avoid Tailgating

8 rules to Follow for Safe Driving

Image via Flickr by Matt Seppings

One of the ways drivers display their frustration with other motorists is by tailgating. They pull the front of their car within a short distance of the bumper of the annoying vehicle ahead of them, letting the person know that his or her slow driving has a ripple impact on the cars behind them. It's a foolish decision to tailgate, though.

Consider the math of the situation. Even if you're traveling at only 30 miles per hour, you'll need at least 45 feet of space to stop your car. A crash of 10 miles per hour can cost as much as $9,867 in damage to your vehicle. When you drive too closely to the car in front of you, the person you're hurting isn't the other driver. That collision could injure you. Even if it doesn't, you'll spend time and money repairing your car. After that's done, you'll pay even more of your hard-earned cash on increased insurance premiums. That's why you should never tailgate.

Follow the Three-Second Rule

This tactic ties into the tailgating rule. The best way to avoid tailgating is by evaluating how close you are to the vehicle in front of you. The three-second rule helps you identify whether you're a safe distance away. Watch the car in front of you until it passes a landmark, then count to three seconds. If you arrive at the object before you finish counting, you're too close and should slow down. Conversely, if you verify that you're more than three seconds behind, you're safely positioned.

Watch the Road

This may seem obvious, but you need to view more than just what's right in front of you. Keep an eye on the road ahead. Otherwise, you'll fail to react in a timely fashion if something unexpected happens. By looking as far down the highway as you can, you'll know if there's a car crash or road construction ahead. Then you can casually detour to a safer location, either by changing your position on the road or by taking a nearby exit. Even if you stay in your current lane, you'll know of the impending danger, which is most of the struggle in staying safe.

Plan for the Worst

Occasionally, situations will arise that you can't control while you're driving. If a car swerves into your lane, you'll have to react quickly to avoid a potentially dangerous accident. That's doubly true if oncoming traffic somehow winds up in your lane. Head-on collisions account for more than 10 percent of all car accident fatalities.

The best way to avoid tragedy is to plan for it. While you're driving, think about alternatives. What can you do if someone veers into your lane? Would hitting the brakes help, or would it be safer to drive on the shoulder of the road? A split-second decision won't protect you like a well-planned strategy for avoiding other vehicles will. When you plan for the worst, it's easier to avoid such scenarios.

Don't Speed

Driving more quickly seems so satisfying. The purpose of transportation is to move from one place to another, and when you speed up, you arrive at your destination more quickly. There's just one problem: Getting there safely is the most important part of your travel plan. Despite people's perception, speeding doesn't cause more accidents. What it does cause, however, are more severe accidents.

When you feel the urge to break the speed limit, take the time to think about what it represents. Government officials performed a lot of research to determine the proper speed for the road. They identified the speed at which you'll jeopardize yourself and the cars around you. These are experts at their craft, and each speed limit sign is their way of reminding you how to drive safely. You should never speed, no matter how tempting it is.

Remember Turn Signals

Once you've driven for a while, you might take your turns for granted. You know where you're going, and that might seem like enough. It's not, though. Your turn signals are more than just a courtesy. They're required by the law. That's because road planners across the country appreciate that the best way for everyone to drive safely is by providing as much as information as possible to fellow drivers. When you signal, you're notifying others that they should slow down or grow more alert to your actions. Not using your turn signals endangers you and others.

Use Your Mirrors

This is another bad habit that can develop over time. After you've gotten used to driving in a particular area, you'll feel a comfort level that can lead to sloppy driving. You might start to perform lane merges without checking your mirrors. That's precisely how you wind up smashing into a car in the other lane. Your mirrors are there to provide you with a view that you wouldn't have on your own. Car mirrors eliminate blind spots. By using them, you reduce your odds of crashing into an unseen car.

Never Drive Drunk

The final tip is just plain common sense. When you have even one alcoholic beverage, your reaction time slows dramatically. When you surpass the legal limit for alcohol in your bloodstream, you're a threat behind the wheel of a large automobile. Cars weigh 4,000 pounds, on average, and you turn them into a moving weapon when you drive while impaired. There's a reason why driving under the influence of alcohol is such a serious crime. It's the worst thing you can do while behind the wheel of an automobile. Never drink and drive.

Driving safely comes down to practicing the right habits. After you train yourself to use these eight tips, you'll feel more comfortable and confident each time you drive.