12 Tips for Staying Safe on the Road
Staying safe on the road should be your number one priority, whether you’re using a car subscription service like Canvas or you’re driving your own personal vehicle. As summer road trip season kicks off and more cars flood the roads, you’ll need to be extra vigilant. To keep you and your passengers protected while you’re in the driver’s seat, consider the following tips.
1. Slow Down
Arriving a few minutes early is not worth the risk to your life, as speeding was involved in 26% of all traffic fatalities in 2017. Always keep track of what the speed limit is and stay comfortably within that range. After all, if you suddenly lose control of your vehicle because you were going too fast for the road conditions, you’re not just putting yourself at risk, but all the cars around you.
2. Put Away the Phone
Another big problem on the road is distracted driving. People that were distracted by talking, texting, eating, and other activities that took their attention away from the road killed 3,166 people in 2017, meaning it simply isn’t worth the risk to check and see if your friend responded to your text. If you do need to check your messages, pull safely over to the side of the road before looking at your phone. Don’t trust yourself? Download an app that automatically locks your phone while you’re driving.
3. Read up on the Rules
Each state has its own traffic rules, and if it has been some time since you earned your driver’s license, you might not remember them. These rules dictate how we should behave on the road, so knowing them is essential. Find your state’s DMV website and see if you can download a driver’s manual to refresh yourself. For example, many people panic when they come to a flashing yellow light or don’t know how to park their car on a hill — both of which are commonly covered in the road rules for your state.
4. Use Traffic Apps
Traffic apps are a great way to avoid messy situations on the road, keeping you out of traffic and on a safe detour around backups. The fewer cars you have to encounter on your commute, the less likely you are to get into an accident. Apps like Waze go a step further by also offering warnings about potholes, road debris, and more.
5. Maintain Your Car
Car maintenance is essential for keeping your car running smoothly and safely at all times. In particular, you’ll want to keep an eye on your:
Tires, which should be able to pass the penny test for tread and be inflated to the correct tire pressure.
Headlights and brake lights.
Fluid levels, including windshield wiper fluid, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, brake fluid, and oil.
Belts and hoses.
Luckily, when you choose a monthly car subscription from Canvas, all these maintenance items are included in your payment.
6. Look Both Ways
This should be a no-brainer, but always look both ways when making a turn or pulling into an intersection. If you’re not careful, you could be blindsided by a car that’s going too fast or making a turn when you weren’t looking. Additionally, don’t forget to look in both your mirrors and blind spots when switching lanes, as sometimes cars aren’t always visible if you just do one or the other.
7. Stop on Yellow
Contrary to popular belief, a yellow light does not mean gun it and hope for the best. Rather, it’s intended to be a signal for you to slow down and wait for it to be your turn again. While it might be tempting to beat the red by edging your pedal to the floor, don’t do it. The only exception is if it’s not safe enough for you to come to a stop because you don’t have enough time before the intersection — but if that’s the case, you were probably going too fast anyway, right?
8. Avoid Sleepy Driving
Believe it or not, sleepy drivers actually caused more fatal accidents than distracted drivers. In 2015, a total of 5,000 people died in crashes where one driver was drowsy. In fact, research shows that going 20 or more hours without sleep and driving is the same as driving drunk. When you’re driving tired, your reaction times are slower and you are often unable to stay focused. If you’re finding it hard to keep your eyes open, pull over and take a break.
9. Don’t Tailgate
Avoiding tailgating is something a lot of people have trouble with. After all, if the car in front of you is going 10 mph under the speed limit, you need to show them how angry you are, right? Wrong. Tailgating isn’t safe, because if the car in front of you makes a sudden stop, you have far less time to react. In general, stay at least three seconds behind the car in front of you. You can measure this by finding a spot on the road that the car in front of you has passed and counting the time until you get to that spot.
10. Turn on Your Headlights
Most new cars do feature auto headlights and driving lights, especially the cars we offer at Canvas in our 12-month car lease program. That being said, if you’re driving an older vehicle that doesn’t have this capability, don’t forget to activate your lights when it gets dark. Getting dark doesn’t always mean nighttime; sometimes, daytime storms and clouds create an unforgiving atmosphere that makes it hard to see, so having your lights on decreases the chances of you getting into an accident.
11. Never Drive Under the Influence
You should know this by now, but never drive when drinking or taking drugs. Drunk driving killed 10,497 people in 2016 — 28% of all traffic-related deaths. Drugs, on the other hand, are involved in 16% of all car crashes. Both drinking and taking substances alter your ability to react and focus on the road.
12. Wear a Seat Belt
Your seat belt is there for a reason — to use it! Statistics show that seat belts ended up saving nearly 15,000 lives in 2017, making them a valuable tool for drivers across the globe. Unfortunately, 47% of people killed in car crashes in 2017 were not wearing their seatbelt, which makes you wonder if their deaths could have been prevented had they been wearing one.
Don’t let your experiences on the road be unsafe ones. By following the above tips, you can ensure you, your passengers, and everyone else around you on the road arrives safely to their destinations.