No one likes to admit they could use some improvement behind the wheel. But the fact is, accidents happen and they happen a lot (over 7 million times in the United States alone in 2016). While you can’t control many of the risks on the road, you can set yourself up to be as safe as possible.
7 Steps You Can Take to Become a Safer Driver
1. Forget about your phone. This is one of the most important (and simplest) things you can do to improve the safety of you, your passengers, and others on the road. According to the Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that using a cell phone while driving — even when it’s a hands-free phone — is the equivalent of driving drunk. Scary, right? That means if you really want to reduce your risk, it’s best to refrain from talking.
And texting is definitely a dealbreaker. Sending a text may seem simple, but on average, it causes you to lose your focus on the road for 4.6 seconds. And if that doesn’t sound so bad, consider the fact that you can drive the length of a full football field in that amount of time. Even if you’re fully stopped, just keep your phone out of reach and pay attention to everything going on around you.
2. Keep your car in good shape. No, repairs aren’t cheap, but investing in the appropriate maintenance will ensure your vehicle is up to snuff and safe. Make sure you get routine check-ups for your tires, brakes, fluid levels, lights, wipers, and anything else indicated in your owner’s manual.
3. Buckling up is always a must. Your best defense in a crash is your seatbelt — no buts about it. No matter how far you’re driving or whether your passengers are riding in the front or back, every single person in the car should be wearing a seatbelt at all times.
4. Properly position your hands. Remember when your driver’s ed teacher insisted you keep your hands on the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions? Believe it or not, that 10 and 2 theory has been debunked. Guidelines have recently changed to instruct drivers to keep hands lower on the wheel, either at 9 and 3 or 8 and 4. The modified grip gives you more stability and control and it’s the most ergonomic option.
5. Only drive when you’re well rested. Getting behind the wheel when you’re seriously exhausted is seriously dangerous. Sleep deprivation can have the same effect on your body as drinking alcohol, and as you can imagine, make it incredibly difficult to pay attention and make fast decisions. And according to a 2010 study, one out of every six fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. If you’re tired, find an alternative plan — it’s not worth the risk.
6. Keep a safe distance. It’s never a good idea to get too close to the other cars around you on the road. Maintain a safety cushion around your vehicle so you can see everything going on around you and you have room to act quickly if necessary.
7. Minimize all distractions. Now you know that looking at or talking on your phone shouldn’t be an option while driving. But ideally, eating, drinking, and searching for that perfect playlist shouldn’t be on your list of behind the wheel activities either. Whenever you’re in the driver’s seat, focus all your attention on the task at the hand.
Of course, accidents can happen despite your best efforts to stay safe. That’s why it’s so important to stick with an insurance company that has your back. Make the smart choice and visit Metromile today for a personalized quote.