6 tips for a safe car ride.
Whether you’re hitting the road on your own or taking your family out for a Sunday drive, safety should be at the top of your priority list. And before you tell us that you’ve been driving for decades, or that you’ve never been in an accident before, stop: we can almost guarantee you don’t follow every single tip on the list (even though you should!).
Don’t drink and drive
Despite the commercials warning us, the stories we read on a regular basis, and the basic laws of logic, plenty of people still drink and drive. In fact, in the United States alone, over a million drivers are arrested per year and charged with a DUI.
Stick to the recommended drinking limits and definitely stay within the law. Just two alcoholic drinks can have huge effects on your ability to drive, with a sharp decline in your visual functions (unable to track movement properly) and the inability to focus on a task. An additional drink makes things even worse, with difficulty steering and reduced coordination being the likely results.
Do not multitask
When you’re behind the steering wheel, focus on the road. Don’t use your mobile phone. Don’t take a sip out of that coffee. Forget about taking a bite out of that burger. And yes, you look fine, you don’t need to check your hair or do your makeup! Seriously, some people even read or watch movies while driving.
Multitasking is extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Research has shown that those that eat while driving, for example, are 44% slower to react. Those that use phones aren’t just being dangerous, they’re also breaking the law. Stick to listening to music while you drive.
Wear a seatbelt
This one may seem like another one that’s right out of the ‘Duh!’ textbook, but the statistics back up the fact that this message needs to be reiterated: wear your seatbelt every single time you’re in a vehicle. The facts don’t lie, with almost fifteen thousand lives that were saved in 2016 from seat belt use in the USA alone. And additional 2,456 could have been saved if everyone had been wearing seat belts.
It’s surprising that considering everything we know about car safety, almost 10% of Americans choose not to buckle up. It doesn’t matter if it’s a short car journey, that you’re driving around your quiet neighbourhood, or that you’re sitting in the backseat. No excuses on this one.
Don’t wait to fuel up
Most people will leave it till the gauge is almost at the dreaded E before deciding to hit a gas station. We recommend putting safety first and filling up when your tank hits the quarter mark. Reason 1: gauges aren’t always accurate. Don’t gamble and go to the gas station early. Reason 2: getting near the E mark can be damaging for your car.
It’s also worth thinking about where you can top up your gas. This is particularly important if you’re going on a road trip or a car journey that’s more than just a couple of hours long. If you’re stuck in traffic or get lost, you may end up in a sticky situation.
Know Local Laws and Driving Customs
Studies have shown that drivers visiting from abroad are far more likely to cause accidents than the average domestic driver. There are a variety of reasons for this:
- Not very familiar with the types of roads
- Driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road can be confusing (e.g. someone visiting the UK from mainland Europe)
- Vehicles from unreliable car hire companies can be poorly maintained
- Lack of familiarity with local signs and language
If you’re going abroad and you’re thinking of hiring a car to tour around, ensure you’re prepared. Don’t just assume that because you’re a good driver, everything will be fine no matter where you go. Consider the following:
- Learn the basic local driving laws
- Read up on what drivers tend to be like – what’s the driving culture?
- Avoid driving at night if you can help it
- Always check your vehicle before you drive away from the rental company
- Store the local emergency and roadside assistance numbers on your phone
Have an all-weather emergency kit
Roadside emergencies are common and they can happen when you least expect them. And when you’re outside of cell phone range or it’s freezing cold out, things can get ugly very quickly. We recommend having the following packed in your trunk:
- Extra layers of warm clothing
- Non-perishable food that’s high in calories
- Pay-as-you-go cell phone that’s with a different carrier
- First-aid kit
- Tire gauge
- Foam tire sealant
- Jumper cable
- Charger for your phone
- $30-40 in small bills/change
- Basic roadside safety kit
Of course, you should also consider the average climate in your region. If snow is a common friend, then you want to pack in a windshield scraper, extra blanket, cat litter (hear us out, it’s for traction!), and a tow strap with tire chains.
Safety on the road is serious business. You don’t just owe it to yourself and your family, but also to your fellow drivers and passengers out there. You may be an experienced driver, but alcohol will affect you. Your car may be brand new, it may still fail. And even though you’re an expert on local driving laws, it doesn’t mean you don’t need to learn the basics when going abroad.
Theodora is a passionate blogger from Sydney and she is someone you would call an IT nerd. Also, she takes great interest in psychology and helping people deal with their mental and anxiety issues. Besides that, she loves martial arts and enjoying the nature.