Perhaps because we have our second teen driver-in-training, I am ultra-sensitive to safe driving practices. Maybe I’m just a super-savvy safe driver (someone alert my insurance company so I can get a discount). Whatever the reason, I have definitely noticed that some drivers are not as safe as others. Not only do they put themselves in harm’s way, but they
jeopardize everyone traveling the same roads. In no particular order, here are three driving safety tips for any driver, whether driving around town or traveling in unfamiliar places.
Safety tip number one: Use common sense with your GPS
On vacation in a big city, we wanted to eat at a particular restaurant outside of downtown. We plugged the address into our GPS system and followed its instructions obediently. We soon found ourselves in a rough part of town, graffiti, broken down cars, homes with boarded windows and what appeared to be gang members gathered on the street corners. Definitely out of our element and feeling quite conspicuous, we ignored the GPS instructions that took us further into the neighborhood and used the visual map to get back on the main thoroughfare.
GPS is a wonderful invention, but use common sense! Your GPS might tell you the quickest route between two places, but it does not know whether the route is safe. If you find yourself in a “shady” side of town, get back to the main roads quickly and recalibrate.
Safety tip number two: Follow expected driving behavior
On our most recent road trip, we encountered some crazy driving (not our above-mentioned teen driver — he drives familiar roads only, so far). I’m sure you’ve encountered them, too, maybe even in your hometown. One is the “oops… almost missed my exit” driver who zooms right across three lanes of interstate traffic to make the off-ramp at the last possible moment. Another is the “oops… that wasn’t my exit after all” driver who realizes the mistake just in time and then “parks” between the off-ramp and the highway, waiting to re-enter the roadway.
There’s a city street version of these drivers, too, and their actions can be more devastating because of cars entering the roadway from side streets and driveways.
We are creatures of habit. Drivers expect certain behaviors on the highway, at exit ramps and on city streets. When a driver deviates from expected behavior, others must react quickly to avoid collisions. On the highway, especially, that means lots of slammed on brakes. Suddenly, traffic that had been flowing at 70 mph drops to 50 mph and accidents happen.
Instead of rushing at the last moment, follow safe, expected, driving habits. If you miss your exit, turn around at the next one. A few extra minutes driving might just save a few lives. If you get off at the wrong exit, instead of slamming on the brakes and disrupting the flow of traffic, proceed and re-enter the highway using the on-ramp. It’s much safer for everyone and only costs a minute or two in travel time.
Safety tip number three: Fill the tank before running out of gas
When I travel, I want to pay the best price for gas possible. I use the “gas buddy” app to scope out great gas prices. I watch the gas billboards for great prices “gas buddy” might miss. I have been known to hold my breath (as if that helps at all) while pushing ahead just one more exit for a better price. Oh, the stress…
This last road trip, as we passed an exit ramp while driving at night, we noticed a dark sedan being pushed by two men in dark clothes down that same exit ramp. Apparently out of gas, they pushed that car ON THE ROAD. Anyone using that exit behind them could have easily crashed into them (we called the highway patrol) because we only saw them as we drove beyond the ramp.
More typically, we see people walking along the edge of the highway with gas cans to fill their empty tanks. The interstate system isn’t safe for pedestrian traffic… television news reports include stories of highway patrol officers clipped by passing vehicles or of good samaritans killed while trying to help a stranded motorist.
Play it safe. Fill up before the gas needle registers “E” and save time, worry and stress. No one’s life is worth a few cents — or even a few dollars — saved by pushing to the next exit.
Using common sense, really, is what these three driving safety tips are all about. If the GPS route doesn’t “feel” right, get back to the main road. If you miss your exit, drive on and turn around — rather than risking a chain reaction accident by making a sudden, unexpected move. And, when the gas tank gets low, fill it. Stranded motorists are sitting ducks on America’s highways. When we practice these driving safety tips, everyone on the roads benefits.
Drive safely, everyone!