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Defensive Driving Tips for Lower Car Insurance and Road Safety

One reason that auto accidents occur so often is because people travel most by vehicle. It has become our daily mode of transportation. Yet, considering how many people die (thousands), or how many are injured (millions) in auto accidents each year, it would be wise to learn how to drive in the safest way possible.

Wear Your Seat belt!
It has become a proven fact that seat belts save lives and lessen the severity of injuries in auto accidents. Make sure your seat belt fits tightly over your hips, not your stomach. Also, make sure that if a shoulder strap is used, it’s positioned over the shoulder instead of under the armpit or behind the passenger. Make sure to wear your seat belt even if you also have airbags. An airbag is meant to provide additional safety, not to replace the seat belt.

If children are riding with you, check your state’s requirements for when they must be a child safety seat. The safest place for children is in the backseat with the proper restraint system securely in place.

Keep Your Vehicle in Good Condition

Make sure that your vehicle is well maintained and ready to go. The things on the list that follows should be checked at least once a week, and more often if at all possible.

Brake Fluid
All Belts
Air Conditioning
Tire Pressure
Engine Fluid
Motor Oil
Transmission Fluid
All Lights
Wiper blades
Windshield washer fluid

Try to keep the inside clean as well, making sure to remove or secure loose items.

Plan Your Route Ahead of Time

Try to be aware of alternate routes to your destination and have an updated map handy for the route you are going to take. Check the weather on all routes, and have a weather station preset on your radio so that you can be alert to sudden changes in weather. Prepare ahead of time for weather situations you may encounter on the way.

Check how long each route will take and allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination in a completely relaxed way. When estimating how much time to allow yourself, keep in mind the weather reports you checked earlier.

If you do get lost STAY CALM! Pull off to the side of the road, and check your map. DO NOT try to check the map and drive at the same time. If you’re still lost than don’t be to embarrassed to ask for directions.

Use Cell Phones Wisely While Driving

Many states have restrictions on cell phone use while driving. Make sure you are familiar with the laws in your area. Restrictions on cell phone use while driving have been put in place because of the dangerous threats they can pose. Your reaction time is reduced and if you need to turn or shift suddenly, you need both hands free to do so.

Try a hands free device if you have to be on the phone a lot while driving. However, if possible, the best course of action is to pull over to the side of the road and finish your phone call. Also, DO NOT TEXT while driving. Texting requires the attention of your hands and your eyes, both of which should be focused on driving.

Don’t Drive Tired

Many people downplay the threat that a tired driver can present. A tired driver can often be overconfident in his ability to stay awake and as a result find himself dozing off while behind the wheel. Below is a list of symptoms that indicate you are too tired to drive. There are also things you can do to stay awake.

Warning Signs
Your eyes keeping closing by themselves.
You’re constantly yawning.
You’re having trouble keeping your head up.
You can’t recall the last couple of minutes.
You have wandering thoughts that don’t make much sense.
You keep driving over the lines on the road.
You miss your exit.
You have difficulty maintaining a steady speed.

How to Stay Awake
Get plenty of rest the night before your trip.
Don’t start to late in the day.
Take someone with you; Don’t drive by yourself
Try to avoid nighttime driving.
Turn on the air conditioning.
Don’t slump or get overly comfortable in your seat; Sit up straight.
Bring snacks and drinks, but beware of eating foods that make you sleepy.
Make frequent stops to either rest or get out of the car and exercise.
Try to play games or music that will break up the monotony of driving.

Keep a Safe Distance

Practice maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you. Try the two-second rule in good weather and allow more distance in poor weather. Remember that your car does not stop on a dime and you will need this time to come to a safe halt.

Look Out At Intersections
When driving through an intersection:
Never assume that other vehicles are automatically going to stop at the intersection. Wait a couple of seconds to go on through.
If the light has been green for some time, prepare yourself to stop in case the light changes suddenly.
A good tip for when the light is about to change is the crosswalk signal. If the hand is flashing, your light is going to change soon.
Remember that pedestrians always have the right of way, so be alert to them crossing the street.

Every time you get into the car, there are factors that you can control and factors that you cannot control. You CAN control the condition of your vehicle, your speed, your concentration and focus on the task at hand and your emotions -either good or bad. You CANNOT control the weather, traffic, other drivers, the force of impact or energy of motion. Focus on what you can control and try to be prepared, more or less, for what you can’t control and you will quickly be on your way to a safe and enjoyable trip.


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