CARS ARE REALLY SMART THESE DAYS. THEY TELL YOU WHEN YOU CHANGE LANES, SELF-PARK, AND SOME EVEN AUTOMATICALLY BRAKE IF THE ROAD IS OBSTRUCTED. BUT EVEN WITH RECENT SAFETY ADVANCEMENTS, DRIVING IS STILL DANGEROUS.
Cars are really smart these days. They tell you when you change lanes, self-park, and some even automatically brake if the road is obstructed. But even with recent safety advancements, driving is still dangerous. Read on to discover what to do in driving emergencies and general sound driving practices. These safe driving tips can keep you and your car out of harm’s way.
1. Accelerate slowly if your tire explodes
When you feel a tire give out, your first reaction is to slam on the brakes. Not only is this a terrible idea if there is traffic behind you, but it could also cause your car to fishtail and lose control. According to Popular Mechanics, accelerate moderately to bring your car under control and then coast to slow down, coming to a stop off the side of the road with your hazard lights on.
2. Test your emergency brake regularly
The emergency brake seems like an unnecessary feature with most automatic transmission equipped cars. But what happens when you’re barreling down the highway and your brakes go spongy? You’re going to want that emergency brake. Your emergency brake works separate from your hydraulic brake system, using steel cables to pull the brake pads tight. Those cables can rust and deteriorate if not used occasionally. So the next time you park, pull on that unnecessary lever between the front seats.
3. What to do if your brakes fail
It’s one of those safe driving tips you hope you never need. And in reality, brakes rarely completely fail. It may feel like they’re gone, but if you really push hard on the brake pedal you should have something left. You can also slightly apply your emergency (or parking) brake. If a true emergency, downshift in a manual and, if an option, do the same on an automatic. You will remain safely in control of your car while slowing down. Slowly migrate to the side of the road with your hazard lights on.
4. Properly adjust side (wing) mirrors
We have all come to accept that there are certain blind spots on every car. Side mirrors just cannot capture everything. But what if I told you, they’re just adjusted inappropriately? To gain a better view, turn those mirrors so your own car is just out of view. Voila! No more cranking your neck before every lane change. And more importantly no blind spots!
5. Keep your headlights on at all times
Many newer cars have daytime running lights. This feature drastically improves your car’s visibility to other drivers and pedestrians. If you do not have running lights and the weather turns cloudy, rainy, or foggy pop on those headlights.
6. No tailgating
Remember that pesky 2-second rule your driving instructor kept reminding you about? Turns out he/she might have actually known a thing or two. Nearly 33% of all crashes are at least partially caused by tailgating and following too closely is illegal in most states. So keep some distance in front of you.
You’re not auditioning for The Fast and the Furious 17 (seriously, they’re still making these?).
7. Check your oil every two weeks (or sooner)
Back when gas station attendants filled the gas tank for you, they also checked your oil. This was not just done as a way to get extra tips. Driving with a low oil level or dirty, cloudy oil is extremely dangerous. Check your oil monthly, at the very least. Wipe your dipstick on a white cloth/rag/paper towel. Note any color other than amber or light brown. This is the most basic preventative maintenance everyone should practice.
8. Assemble a proper emergency kit
Even on short trips around town, an emergency kit can come in handy. Some basic items could save your life, or at the very least some precious time, especially if you live in a harsh climate.
What to pack:
Foam tire sealant | Flashlight | Jumper cables
Blanket | Kitty litter (for getting unstuck in snow/ice)
Industrial strength tape | First-aid kit | Basic tool kit
Reflective traffic triangles (place behind and in front of your vehicle if stopped)
9. Never drive drowsy
Driving might seem like an easy thing to do, but it becomes a bit trickier when you fall asleep. Drowsy drivers are responsible for over 72,000 car crashes and 800 deaths every year. If you find yourself blinking or yawning excessively, or if you cannot remember the last few miles, pull over immediately.
10. Don’t text and drive
We’ve all seen the commercials and ads about tragic outcomes from teens texting while driving. And they’re not just to scare you: texting and driving is a borderline epidemic. Over 40% of teens admit they text while driving. Just put that phone down when driving; it could save your life considering 1 in 4 accidents are caused by texting behind the wheel.
11. Most important safe driving tips: Give yourself ample time
This is one of the most overlooked safe driving tips. We all know that driver, weaving in and out of lanes, slamming on the brakes, riding two feet behind your bumper. That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Relax and let them zoom ahead.
And if you find yourself wanting to save five minutes off your commute by recreating a scene from Smokey and the Bandit, just know it probably won’t end well.