Whether you're driving alone or with passengers in the car, when you are behind the wheel of a large vehicle, your top concern - indeed, your only concern - should be to drive safely. There are more vehicles on the road than ever before and we have more distractions than ever while driving, so it becomes more critical every year that we are aware of the basics of safe driving and using them every minute we're guiding our several-thousand-pound vehicle down a high way at as much as 75-80 miles per hour. For the safety of everyone, it is critical that you practice safe driving whenever you’re on the road. Here are some safe driving tips:
At All Times, Keep Your Focus on Driving
Always pay 100% of your attention to driving at all times. One of the great fallacies many of us have convinced ourselves we have is the ability to multi-task. We really don't. The ability to give full attention to more than one thing at a time doesn't really exist; no one has it. Therefore, don't every use your smartphone for anything while you are driving. Don't smoke or vape while driving and leave eating and drinking for rest stops and restaurants.
It is also important to slow down. Speeding gives you less time to react and will increase the severity of any accident. Always drive "defensively," as the best drivers do. That requires you to always be aware of what other drivers are doing and expect the unexpected. Always assume that other drivers on the same road will do something crazy and always be ready to avoid it. Keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you at all times and double that in wet or inclement weather,
Make a Safe Driving Plan
Plan your trip ahead of time, including time in your trip schedule to stop for food, rest breaks, phone calls or other business. Make adjustments to your seat mirrors and climate controls before you even start the car. If you want to eat or drink, pull off the road and eat and drink at a table. It only takes a few minutes.
When preparing your vehicle for the drive, take the time to secure cargo in the cabin that could possibly move around when the car is in motion. Have everything you will need at your fingertips, like money for tolls, toll cards and garage parking passes. If something falls to the floor, don't try to retrieve it. Instead, plan to stop and retrieve it while the car is parked.
You and all of your passengers should always be buckled into your seat belts. And you, as the driver should always wear your seat belt and drive sober and drug-free. Don’t allow children to fight with each other or climb around in the vehicle at all. They should be be buckled into their seats at all times. Too much noise can easily distract your focus away from the road.
You should also avid driving when you're overly tired. Drowsy driving has been a growing problem in recent years and it is almost as common as DUI and almost as dangerous. You should also be aware that many medications cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous.
Try to never drive aggressively. That means you should always use caution when changing lanes. Also, cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too quickly, or not using your signals may cause an accident. At the very least, you may upset other drivers.
Always Obey Speeding and Other Traffic Laws
Some roadways are not highways. They are designated as low-speed zones, and include areas with high pedestrian traffic, like school zones and streets where a lot of intersections are close together. Driving above the speed limit can put you and others at serious risk of harm. Always obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets can be very expensive and the penalties can include possible jail time and the loss or suspension of your license. Even if the speeding ticket doesn't go that far, many insurance companies will raise your rates following a speeding ticket.
When approaching a school bus that is stopped and displaying stop sign to its left, that means children may be in harm's way, so you should always stop, whichever direction you are headed.
If you hear a siren coming behind you, pull to the right side of the road if possible, then stop and wait until the police car or fire truck goes by.
Completely stop at all stop signs. Try to avoid the classic rolling stop. The purpose of stopping is so you can look for other drivers and pedestrians before proceeding with caution.
When parking your vehicle, always be mindful of handicapped signs, fire hydrants, bus stop zones, parking restrictions for certain times of day, and parking spots that require permits. Just remember to heed all of the signs. Even if you have to circle the block a couple times, it sure beats getting fined or having your car towed.
What to Do If You Have an Accident Anyway
Even if you drive perfectly safely, accidents can happen; that's why they're called accidents. If you have an accident, the first thing you should do is to make sure no one in your car has been injured. Then, you should check on the passengers in the ther vehicle, any pedestrians and anyone who was nearby when the accident happened.
Always stay at the scene of the accident. Leaving the scene could have possible legal consequences, including additional violations and potential fines. At the very least, leaving could change the narrative surrounding the accident, which could hurt your case, should you pursue a lawsuit to recover compensation for your injuries and other losses. Call 911 immediately and wait for the police to complete an accident report, which you will need if you or someone else has been injured.
If the accident happened on a busy highway, make sure you and your passengers stay inside the car to wait for the police or an ambulance. It's far too dangerous to have passengers gathering along a highway with plenty of traffic.
It is also critical that you and the others in your car stay calm and avid arguing or fighting with the other driver or the passengers in their car. This is the time to just collect contact and insurance information, and to get the names and phone numbers of any potential witnesses.
As soon as possible, possibly even while you're waiting for the police to show up, call your insurance company to report the claim. Your agent will ask you for copies of any paperwork you receive about the accident, especially the police report and provide you with the information you need to get you vehicle repaired.