Being involved in a vehicle crash can be a frightening prospect. No matter how experienced a driver you are, no one is safe from dangerous encounters on the road. Add to those countless distractions and reckless behaviors and you might even cause an accident yourself, jeopardizing your safety and health and that of others. Now, despite strict regulations and awareness campaigns, we felt it was important to provide a refresher on some principles of defensive driving. This practical guide will highlight simple tips to avoid finding yourself in dire situations on the road. Get ready, and buckle up!

Be Aware of Your Environment

This is the number one, golden rule of driving. Whenever you get behind the wheel, always be mindful of your surroundings; the road, other cars around you, safety distances, signage, and such. Situational awareness helps you remain in control, allowing you to navigate safely and properly react to anything unexpected that comes your way (bad drivers, loads falling off trucks, passersby, animals, trees, etc.). By being alert at all times, you can anticipate your reaction time and avert potential catastrophes.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

There is truly no excuse not to wear a safety belt on board. In cases of side, rear, or head-on collisions, seat belts are specifically designed to keep you in place and prevent you and your passengers from getting shaken around inside the car, or worse, being ejected several yards away. As such, buckling up should be a reflex for all the occupants. If you happen to be a self-employed driver, ask any passengers who refuse to wear their seat belt to politely disembark.

Control Your Speed

Having an emergency or running late to a meeting doesn’t exempt you from speeding. Whenever you’re on the freeway or driving around town, make it a point to respect speed limits. These limitations are in place to ensure the safety of all commuters. While we all love that adrenaline rush that comes with a push on the gas pedal, this is considered reckless behavior. By contrast, driving too slowly also presents many risks, so strike that good balance to blend in with the traffic.

Never Drive Under the Influence

It goes without saying that drinking or consuming mind-altering substances behind the wheel is a serious no-no. Alcohol and narcotics cloud your judgment, impair your vision, and slow down your reflexes, making operating a vehicle safely virtually impossible. Now, if you’ve been the victim of an inebriated driver in Florida, a Tampa car accident lawyer will help you receive compensation if you decide to press charges, as is your right. No matter where you reside, having a competent, certified attorney on speed dial is always a wise move!

Eliminate Onboard Distractions

Between your radio, navigation system, smartphone, or food and drinks, onboard distractions are the enemies of safe driving. While you may be tempted to respond to a quick text, fiddle with music selection, or down that slurpee, anything that takes your mind (and hands) off the wheel, albeit temporarily, can prove very dangerous. In fact, over half of road accidents in the United States involve some form of distraction. So, eliminate anything that interferes with your driving.

Late Driving and Poor Weather

Evidently, with less visibility comes unpredictability. Did you know that the chances of a fatal crash occurring are three times higher at night? These figures skyrocket if you add heavy rain, snow, fog, smoke, or a sandstorm to the mix. A defensive driver will exercise great caution at night time and avoid driving under capricious weather. That said, if you live in a particularly unforgiving area, train yourself to drive for bad weather with adequate safety equipment and an experienced co-pilot.

Drive a Well-Maintained Vehicle

Last but not least, the importance of driving a safe and well-maintained car can never be stressed enough. While the occasional flat tire shouldn’t cause a world of trouble, you certainly don’t want to be dealing with alarming dashboard lights, leaking fluids, or worse, faulty brakes. In that optic, make it a habit to take your car for a thorough inspection every quarter. This will ensure that everything is in working order for your own safety and that of your fellow drivers.

Ultimately, prevention is the name of the game. The next time you take the wheel, make sure to pay attention to all these considerations. They’re bound to optimize onboard convenience and safety, helping minimize the likelihood of road accidents. Because no one ever wants to suffer serious injuries, much less pay thousands of dollars in hospital bills and car repairs, it’s essential for any vehicle operator to be a responsible, well-reasoned, and law-abiding driver.

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