Health and Home: Safe Driving Tips from the Pros

Welcome to our series: Health and Home, where we highlight important topics that impact your health, safety, and personal life. Today we’re sharing some information that you can use to limit the risks you face while driving while improving your overall health!

Imagine this scenario: you wake up groggily to the loud, incessant ringing of your alarm, only to notice that the time you’re seeing on the clock is much later than the time you intended to wake up. You vaguely remember hitting the snooze button an additional few times, and the panic sets in. You speed up your morning routine, skipping the coffee and the workout you promised yourself you’d do. You hastily get dressed and hop in the car, tired and unfocused for the subsequent commute.

Your phone is ringing, and you can’t help but glance at the screen. There are several text messages and missed calls, and despite your better judgment, you decide to juggle the wheel and your phone. In this state, you are distracted and more concerned with speeding to work than being a careful and mindful driver. Sound familiar?

Whether or not the above scenario resonates with you (I see you, perfect people!) all drivers can benefit from periodically reminding themselves of ways to limit risks behind the wheel. Keep reading to learn some invaluable tips to keep you and your family safe!

What you Can do:

Behavioral Changes

1) Don’t Text | Don’t Take Calls Without a Headset

In the US, over 37,000 people die in road crashes annually (asirt.org), and it is estimated that one in five crashes occur due to distracted driving – something that is 100% preventable. If you must take a call, purchase a headset that enables you to interact with your phone hands-free.

2) Prioritize Getting Enough Sleep

I know, you’re probably tired of hearing that you need to work on attaining adequate sleep. See what I did there? Cheesy puns aside, driving while sleep deprived is similar to driving while intoxicated. Your reaction time is slower, and your judgment and awareness are negatively impacted. While there aren’t laws against drowsy driving, some states are trying to pass legislation that would charge tired drivers involved in accidents with criminal negligence (drowsydriving.org). Needless to say, getting enough sleep will have an all-around positive impact on your quality of life. Aim to get at least 7.5 hours a night, and adjust to allow for more or less as you see fit. The important thing is to remain mindful and strategic in your approach.

Try downloading a sleep tracking app to motivate you to reach your sleep goals. Check out “To Bed”, a free sleep app that enables you to create a sleep schedule based around your age, goals, and the time you need to wake up.

Professional Driving Tips

Professional drivers are well versed in the following safety rules during their training. Why not learn from the pros?

  1. Aim High in Steering – The Imaginary Target

Set your gaze on an imaginary target far down the road. You are going to steer where your gaze rests, and you should always keep your focus far ahead of you to have ample time to make necessary adjustments.

2) Focus on the “Big Picture”

Continuously analyze your environment so you’re fully aware of the objects around you, their size, and depth. This will buy you additional time if you need to perform a quick maneuver.

3) Scan, don’t Stare

Don’t allow your eyes to rest in one spot. Check your rearview mirrors every 5-8 seconds. Scan steering wheels in other vehicles to detect signals or signs that something is wrong.

4) Ensure other Drivers/ Pedestrians See You

Make eye contact with other drivers and pedestrians. Use your horn and signal lights when necessary. Clear communication is a key component of safe driving.

5) Ensure Adequate Spacing between you and other Drivers

You need to expect the unexpected. Ensure that there is an adequate distance between you and the car in front of you to prevent disaster when there is an unexpected slow-down.

Choose a stable object on the road and the car ahead of you. Begin to count “one thousand one, one thousand two” and so on. If you can count to three before you catch up to the object, you are a safe distance from the car in front of you.

Remember, weather conditions will alter the amount of seconds there should be between you and the car in front of you. Four seconds is a good buffer for very wet conditions, and eight seconds worth of distance will keep you safe in the snow.

6) Pulling out from a Curb

Remember the three L’s

  1. Left Signal
  2. Left Mirror
  3. Left Shoulder

Look over your left shoulder to check your blind spot before pulling away. Remember to keep an eye out for bicyclists and pedestrians, as they can suddenly appear where you’re not expecting them.

We hope that this information was helpful to you, and hope that you will use it to make changes that will keep yourself and others in the community safer. As always, thank you so much for reading. See you next week!

Sources:

  1. UPS Driving Habits Flashcards
  2. Adult Sleep Needs
  3. Drowsy Driving Statistics
  4. Driving Safety Statistics
  5. CDC Distracted Driver Statistics

 

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