We can’t control other drivers on the road, but you can control how you operate your vehicle. You can take steps to ensure your safety and that of those around you by being a cautious driver. While we can’t always stop accidents from happening, if you follow these tips for being a cautious driver, you reduce your likelihood of being in one.
1. Stay Focused on the Road
When your cell phone pings that you have a work email, your GPS is taking you to an unfamiliar route, or you want to change the song on the radio, it’s easy to get distracted from driving. Resist the temptation to check your phone, and if it’s an emergency, pull over or head to the closest rest stop. Focusing on the road keeps you aware of any stops, turns, or reductions in the speed limit while also helping you monitor the drivers ahead, behind, and at your side.
2. Follow Traffic Rules
Traffic rules, like speed limits, traffic signals, turn signals, pedestrian stops, bike lanes, and more, exist to keep us all safe. Don’t slam your foot on the accelerator, even if you’re running late. Be sure to come to a complete stop at a stop sign rather than slowly wheeling through it. Remember that when you’re behind the wheel, other drivers, bikers, pedestrians, and passengers rely on you to respect these safety precautions.
3. Keep Your Vehicle Maintained
You don’t need to drive the newest, flashiest car to be safe, but it is necessary to keep it in good condition. In fact, the average age of all vehicles on the road is over 11 years. Never skip an inspection either! It’s important to perform regular tire rotations, oil changes, and brake inspections.
4. Prioritize Brake Inspections
If your brakes stop working, your car will only stop if it hits something. Of course, that’s an extreme scenario, but you should always know that your brakes are in good condition. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 22% of accidents in the U.S. yearly are caused by brake problems. When your brakes are inefficient, you need more time and space to stop, which isn’t always possible. If the car in front of you stops suddenly or the light turns red without you realizing it, you need to be able to make a quick and effective stop.
5. Drive Defensively
Defensive driving is about anticipating potential hazards and taking action to avoid them. It includes keeping a safe distance between you and the car in front of you, monitoring the road ahead, and paying attention to other drivers’ actions. When you’re aware of your surroundings, it’s much easier to notice dangerous behavior, such as a car swerving between lanes or a curve in the road.
6. Get a Good Lawyer
Safety precautions lessen your risk of being in an accident, but don’t eliminate it. As long as you followed traffic rules, wore your seatbelt, and did everything in your power to be a cautious, responsible driver, you should not be held liable in the event of a crash. The average number of car crashes in the U.S. is 6 million and the aftermath can be devastating. A good lawyer will protect you from lawsuits or charges, avoiding hefty legal fees and even jail time. If you are in an accident where, despite your best intentions, you are at fault, your lawyer will also help you navigate the legal process.
Millions of Americans hit the road daily to get to school, work, travel, and more. Driving is a huge responsibility, and falling into bad habits is easy. When you practice cautious driving, you become a safer driver for yourself, your passengers, and everyone else around you.