When we first learn how to drive, we are given a strict set of rules to follow so we can be safe on the road. But as the years go by and our driving becomes more automatic, we can forget important fundamentals. These lapses can result in accidents. Have you forgotten some basic driving rules? Here is a short refresher.
5 Driving Basics to Brush Up On
1. Visual Inspection of Your Vehicle
The first thing they teach you in driver's ed is to do a visual inspection of your car before driving. When is the last time you did a quick walk around of your vehicle before leaving? It was probably quite a while ago.
It doesn't seem like much, but a quick walk around your car before you use it can help you spot potential issues before they become dangerous. Do your tires need air? Is there rust anywhere? Any scratches or chipped paint you didn't notice before? Is there fluid leaking from the engine or breaks? By doing frequent visual inspections, you can prevent small problems from becoming big, expensive repairs down the line.
2. Speed Limits
According to the NHTSA, close to 10,000 people die every year because of speeding. Sure, driving faster than the speed limit is common, but it's also dangerous. As your speed increases, your ability to stop in time to avoid an accident decreases. It also decreases your ability to see what's happening around you. Slowing down is one of the easiest things you can do to reduce your risk of an accident... and your chances of getting arrested because speeding is illegal.
Bonus: reducing your speed also reduces your gas usage. Slowing down saves you money too!
3. Stop Signs and Red Lights
A stop means just that: full stop. Not just slowing down, not almost stopping: full stop. As drivers gain experience and get to know their immediate neighborhood, they can often forget to do the full stop, especially when nobody else is at the intersection. This is a bad habit that can cause anything from small fender benders to big accidents.
Moreover, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 846 people are killed and 143,000 people are injured every year because of red light running. Even if you seem alone on the road in the middle of the night, you never know when another vehicle, a motorcycle, a cyclist, or a pedestrian can show up at the same intersection. Keep yourself and others safe by respecting red lights.
4. Distracted Driving
The popularity of texting and the increased complexity of in-car stereo systems have made distracted driving an important problem on the road. Do you allow distractions to take your eyes and mental focus off the road? Distractions can be anything from loud music to chatty passengers, all the way to texting, eating, and even putting on make-up while driving!
Over 3,000 people die every year because of distracted driving. And although it's often presented as a teen driving problem, adults and more experienced drivers can also be distracted. The next time you get behind the wheel, pay attention to the road, not the radio!
Tailgating, or following a vehicle extremely closely, is a dangerous driving habit that's common among aggressive drivers. This dangerous habit is responsible for 30% of road accidents. A good rule of thumb is to stop far enough behind a vehicle that you can see their back tires touch the road. This leaves you enough space to stop quickly if need be, without rear-ending.
It's Time for a Refresher Course
Even experienced drivers can benefit from a refresher driving course. Our state-approved online defensive driving courses are an easy and affordable way to re-learn some driving basics, turn bad habits into good driving behavior, and reduce car insurance premiums.