Driving​—How You Can Keep It Safe

THOUGH driving a motor vehicle is viewed as a necessity by millions of people today, driving comes at a price. It has been estimated that over 1,200,000 people lose their lives in traffic accidents worldwide each year! Thus, would it not be worth our while to learn how to drive safely? Let us look at some practical steps that we can take.

Check Yourself

A report in the Australian Journal of Social Issues noted that one of the most significant steps a driver can take to reduce the risk of fatalities is to improve his behavior at the wheel. Therefore, before setting out, a driver might want to ask himself, ‘Am I in the proper condition and mood to drive?’ Fatigue can dull one’s mind and slow responses. The Land Transportation Office of the Philippines lists anger, anxiety, and excitement as emotions that affect driving habits and that can lead to unwise decisions and even violent road rage.

 One’s physical condition must also be considered, as certain illnesses or injuries can hamper a person’s ability to drive safely. A driver who respects the lives of others will not venture out on the road when his driving ability may be impaired by alcohol. Certain drugs or medications can also affect the driver’s reactions. In some cases, it may be prudent to forgo the trip or to get someone else to drive.

Check Your Skills

Especially in developing countries, as the number of vehicles increases, so does the number of new, inexperienced drivers. Thus, it is good to consider two things that any driver can do to avoid accidents.

Drive defensively! Stay alert, watch for potential road hazards ahead and behind, and anticipate the moves of other drivers​—including wrong moves. Since a large percentage of collisions result from one vehicle following another too closely, the wise driver will maintain a safe distance between his vehicle and others.

Be aware of blind spots and distractions. Turn your head to see what is happening around you, and do not rely solely on mirrors. Avoid distractions while driving. Don’t multitask​—such activities  as talking on the phone or operating gadgets are distracting.

If you drive a motorcycle: Some authorities say that per mile, a motorcyclist is 37 times more likely to die in a crash than the occupant of a car. What protective steps can you take? Both of the preceding steps also apply to the motorcyclist. In addition, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in the United States says: “Be visible.” Make sure others can see you. Keep your headlights on. Stay out of blind spots of other vehicles. “Dress for safety.” Wear a helmet and bright, thick, protective clothing. “Ride extra defensively.” Assume that others cannot see you, and drive accordingly.

Check Your Vehicle

The driver should be safety conscious, and his vehicle should be in good condition. Brakes should be in prime condition, as should all working parts. Tires should have plenty of tread to reduce the possibility of sliding or hydroplaning. Sufficient tire pressure will improve handling and braking. Most vehicles today have seat belts. These do little good if they are not worn.

Drive your vehicle according to conditions. Wet roads, and especially those with ice or snow, affect stopping distances and steering ability. For night driving, headlights should be kept in good condition and speeds should usually be lowered. Since life is a gift from God, it is only proper that we do what we can to protect our lives, including learning to drive safely.

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Drive smoothly: Frequent acceleration and braking wastes fuel.

Avoid idling: Cars today do not generally need to be warmed up before being driven. If the car will be standing for more than half a minute, switch off the engine.

Maintain tire pressure: Properly inflated tires roll more easily, thus reducing fuel use significantly.

Keep your speed down: Driving at a high speed can be unsafe and can require extra fuel.

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❏ Stay alert

❏ Wear your seat belt

❏ Don’t multitask

❏ Avoid distractions

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❏ Be aware of blind spots

❏ Brakes in prime condition

❏ Sufficient tire pressure

❏ Plenty of tread

❏ Maintain a safe following distance

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❏ “Dress for safety”

❏ “Be visible”

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❏ Check headlights