7 Essential Safe Driving Tips

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 30,000 Americans are killed in car accidents each year. Though there are a variety of causes linked to motor vehicle accidents—drunk driving, distracted driving, and speeding to name a few—the statistics prove that starting your car and pulling out onto the road is a dangerous task.

Remaining safe behind the wheel is a complicated endeavor and there is a lot to be aware of in different situations. However, the following tips will provide you with the toolbox you need to keep yourself, your family, and your fellow drivers secure.

1. Limit distractions. It's essential to understand that just because using your cell phone, doing your make-up, or eating while driving are legal in your state, it doesn't make them safe. State laws may vary concerning what you're legally allowed to do while operating a motor vehicle; however, the data does not.

According to the Human Factors quarterly journal, "Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States every year." What's more, nearly 80 percent of accidents are connected to distracted drivers, which is sobering when compared to the 33 percent caused by drunk drivers.

2. Don't drive after drinking. Seems simple enough; however according to the NHTSA more than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol.

Just because you don't feel "drunk" doesn't mean your ability to drive isn't impaired. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn drivers that "[l]egal limits do not define a level below which it is safe to operate a vehicle or engage in some other activity. Impairment due to alcohol use begins to occur at levels well below the legal limit."

3. Don't speed. Think you're saving yourself time? Well, according to the NHTSA, driving 10 miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit across town will only save you a few minutes. The same speed increase, however, increases your risk for an accident as much as 50 percent.

To avoid speeding is easy. Obey posted speed limits and take your time. If all else fails, leave earlier.

4. Check your mirrors. When driving, your mirrors are your best friend. The visibility they provide is essential when pulling and backing out and changing lanes. When performing these tasks, be sure to check mirrors and look both ways over your shoulder.

6. Expect the worst. In most areas of life, optimism is the key to success. However, driving isn't one of them. Expect other drivers to make mistakes, and think about how you'd react. Don't assume the car in front of you will stop safely at the approaching stop sign. Keep your distance and be ready to react if necessary.

 7. Prepare for bad weather. Weather can be awe-inspiring and beautiful; however, when it comes to being safe in your motor vehicle, bad weather can provide dangerous conditions. Still, even in the dead of winter, we need to get from here to there.

The best way to prevent weather-related accidents is through preparation. Make sure your vehicle's parts can properly function in any weather condition. Check for the following:

  • Windows are cleared of snow, ice, or debris
  • Lights are on and bright
  • Tire tread and pressure
  • Wiper blades and fluid
  • Fluid levels
  • Proper oil grade
  • Brakes

In the winter, check the additional items:

  • Snow tires
  • Antifreeze
  • Defroster

When in doubt, stay home. Risking your life, or another's, is not worth the potential benefits.




The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Alcohol Frequently Asked Questions

Massachusetts Department of Transportation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration