words Al Woods
Driving takes a lot of skill. You have to know and understand how to use all the buttons and levers inside the vehicle, and you have to know the rules of the road. However, as time goes on, driving becomes second nature, making it easy to stop paying attention to what you’re doing while you’re driving.
No matter how long you have been driving or how skilled you are behind the wheel, none of that matters unless you practice ways of being more aware while you’re on the road.
Know Where Blind Spots Are
You should always be aware of your blind spots. Most vehicles have blind spots on either side of the vehicle, with some having blind spots towards the back of the vehicle too. Every car is a little different, so it’s important to know where your blind spots are. That way you know to crane your neck so you can see if another vehicle, cyclist, or a pedestrian is lurking just outside your line of sight.
Not only should you know where your blind spots are, you should also know where the blind spots are on other vehicles. That’s especially true when it comes to large trucks.
Blind spots for commercial trucks are a leading cause of truck accidents. That’s because commercial trucks have much bigger blind spots than other vehicles, making it easier for a truck driver to try and merge into another lane, only to end up running into your car.
Although you should avoid driving on both sides of the truck, you should especially avoid driving in the blind spot area on the right because it’s the most dangerous.
Check the Weather Before You Get Behind the Wheel
The more dangerous the weather outside your window, the more aware you need to be if you want to stay safe on the road. That’s why it’s important to check the weather before you pull out of the driveway.
For example, when driving in the rain, you have to be more aware of the pavement you’re driving on, as well as the vehicles in front of you. Slamming on your brakes could cause you to hydroplane, while a bridge may be icy when the rest of the road is not.
Is it going to be foggy in the morning? Or maybe it’s supposed to snow in the afternoon? No matter what the weather, knowing what to expect will help you know what to look out for on the road.
Turn on the GPS
The GPS is a handy tool to have when you’re going on vacation and you want to know where you have to turn next, but the GPS system is capable of so much more. You may want to consider turning on your GPS even if you know how to get to your destination.
Your GPS system can tell you what the speed limit is, as well as highlight how fast you’re going so you can easily see if you’re driving over the limit. It can alert you to upcoming construction and delays, and it can even let you know if there’s a speed trap ahead.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
It turns out that driving drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. If you’re feeling particularly tired, you should avoid driving altogether. Plan to run your errands another day, or see if you can get a friend, family member, or coworker to take you to work.
There are a few things you can do to prevent feeling too drowsy to drive in the future:
- Time your drives around peak sleepiness periods
- Go to bed and get up at the same time every day
- Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving
- Avoid taking medication that makes you drowsy before driving
Look Further Than the Car in Front of You
It’s important to keep an eye on the car directly in front of you, but if that’s all the further you’re looking on the road, you will find yourself in an accident sooner rather than later.
Instead, look at least a few car lengths ahead of you. When you do, you can keep your eyes open for things like slowed vehicles, potholes, and closed lanes. That way you aren’t stuck trying to swerve, slow down, or merge at the last second. Looking ahead also helps you prepare for an upcoming turn so you don’t miss it.
Don’t Connect Your Phone Via Bluetooth
It can be very convenient to connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth. It’s an easy way to take phone calls and listen to your playlist while you’re driving, but it could also get you into trouble.
Studies are finding that talking hands-free while driving is just as bad as drunk driving. Although we don’t know for sure why that’s the case, it has been postulated that it takes more cognitive effort to speak to someone on the phone than it does in person.
If you want to keep your attention on the road, it’s important not to connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth. It’s even better if you turn it on silent and toss it in the backseat.
Not only should you make sure you aren’t trying to answer phone calls and send text messages while you’re driving, you should also make sure you’re not trying to do other things either.
There are a lot of other distractions on the road. Whether you’re trying to eat a sandwich, you’re fixing your hair at a red light, or you’re arguing with the kids in the backseat, trying to do anything at the same time you’re driving can very easily result in an accident. Save your sandwich for later, make sure your hair is done before you get in the car, and pull over if you need to have a heated conversation with your kids.
Don’t drive on autopilot! From checking the weather to eliminating distractions while you’re on the road, there are things you can do to make sure you’re paying attention so you keep everyone in your car safe.