It is not unusual to assume that once you have passed your driving test, you know everything there is to know about driving. On the other hand, it is not uncommon to fall into poor habits that can lead to an elevated risk of an accident due to carelessness, ignorance, or neglect.
Car accidents remain one of America’s leading causes of death, killing an estimated 38,000 people annually with far more injured. Not only should you know what to do following a minor car accident from a legal standpoint, but what steps you should take if you’re injured.
5 Effective Habits of an Exceptional Driver
The following five effective habits of an exceptional driver can help you avoid becoming an unfortunate statistic.
Habit No. 1: Create a Driving Plan
It is important that when you are driving, especially when navigating long-distance drives or routes to areas you are unfamiliar with, you plan for the trip ahead. That way, you can minimize the chance of an accident.
To create your driving plan, start by examining your daily routines. Think about what time of day you typically drive, where you’ll be driving, and the number of miles you’ll be covering. The more information you have about yourself and your routine, the easier it is to create a realistic driving plan.
Once you’ve created a plan for yourself, consider adding some additional safety measures. For example, if there’s a heavily trafficked intersection enroute or construction zones that are not well-lit or clearly marked, contemplate altering your route.
Finally, consider what might occur if something unexpected happened. Where would you prefer to wait for assistance if the car is immobilized (e.g., rest stop, restaurant parking lot, far off the shoulder of the road)? Is your emergency roadside assistance plan active? Do you have an emergency kit with road flares and warning signs? These are few questions to answer before you leave.
Habit No. 2: Practice Makes Perfect
Driving is a complex task requiring solid judgment and concentration. If you are a new driver and want to improve your driving skills, you should drive more often. The more you drive, the better your judgment will become and the more experience you’ll have behind the wheel.
Furthermore, if you want to bring your driving skills to the next level, then consider taking an advanced driving course. These courses move beyond the standard “behind the wheel” instruction high school students take. Generally, these courses cover such driving skills as how to react in a skid, how to instantly craft an escape route, and understanding emergency procedures.
Habit No. 3: Remain Road Focused
One of the most important driving practices is staying focused on the road while driving. In particular, when you are concentrating on what is unfolding before you, that allows you to make better decisions. Always keep your eyes on the road, avoid using cell phones, and rely less on technology.
When you drive with a clear mind (i.e., alert and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs), it is easier to react quickly and safely in any situation. This will keep you from making mistakes that could result in tragic consequences. Remaining focused on the road will help prevent distracted driving and enable you to respond as quickly as needed.
Habit No. 4: Embrace Defensive Driving
Perhaps the most important way to prevent a car accident is to be conscious of your driving habits. Practice defensive driving, which means situational awareness. Anticipate what other drivers may do, such as switch lanes without signaling or suddenly braking when the traffic light changes.
If you see pedestrians or animals, expect that they may suddenly cross your path without warning. Further, be mindful of traffic conditions, road signs, and always follow the speed limit. Construction, detours, and ever-changing road conditions require non-stop vigilance.
Habit No. 5: Maintain Your Vehicle
One of the most important things you can do to improve your driving habits is to maintain your vehicle. Indeed, a properly serviced vehicle ensures that you will maintain control of it.
If you are driving a newer car, it should come with an automatic checkup system. Notably, the system will tell you if any maintenance needs to be done on your vehicle and then send an alert to your phone or email.
If you drive an older car, follow the maintenance schedule as outlined in the owner’s manual. That schedule offers guidance on oil changes, tire rotations, and other due items. Moreover, keep your windshield washer reservoir full, replace wiper blades as soon as they streak, ensure that all exterior lighting is working, and keep your tires inflated to the proper level.
Safe Driving Considerations
Becoming an exceptional driver is beneficial not only to you but to other drivers and pedestrians. Likewise, by regularly assessing and adjusting your driving habits, those improvements will help you reduce the chance of an accident.