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Stay Safe Behind the Wheel: Essential Tips for a Safer Commute

image of a guy traveling by car, on a road trip with a view of the road

Most if not all our day-to-day activities carry some level of inherent risk. Repeated exposures to risk, without negative consequences, can diminish one’s perception of the severity of the associated hazards. This is called confirmation bias. One of the most prevalent examples of this can be found in our daily commute to work. For most of us, we drive at least twice per day; every day. Often, we can go years or even decades without a vehicular accident. Due to this, we can easily forget how dangerous driving truly is. Here are some tips on how to make our daily commutes safer.

We should ensure that both our vehicle and us as drivers are prepared for our travels. This starts with proper preventative maintenance. Periodically we should be giving our vehicle a good once-over. Performing regular preventative maintenance activities such as checking lights, tire pressure and tread, fluid levels, and replacing windshield wipers every six months are only a few preventative maintenance activities we should be performing on a regular basis. We should also be prepared in case something goes wrong during our commute. It is wise to have a fully stocked road kit for emergencies during your commute. Essentials include road flares/reflective triangles, a first-aid kit, a rechargeable battery starter, tire inflator, snow shovel, tire iron, and easy to use jack.

After we are prepared for our travels, we should ensure that we are operating our vehicle as effectively as possible. When operating a vehicle, we need to always wear our seat belt, be well-rested before driving, and avoid driving while impaired by prescribed medications or drugs/alcohol. We should remain focused on the road by avoiding distractions like eating, drinking, and cell phone use. We need to be alert to situations that may require quick actions like vehicles that have broken down on the side of the road, construction zones, or accidents. We also need to avoid aggressive driving by adhering to all traffic rules, not speeding, and being patient and courteous to other drivers.

No matter how prepared we are for our drive, external factors can impact road safety, notably poor weather conditions. When driving in severe weather, adjust your driving approach. Leave ample time for your journey, allowing 5-10 extra minutes to avoid rushing. Maintain safe, consistent speeds on slippery surfaces like snow, ice, or wet roads. Avoid sudden maneuvers such as speeding up on icy hills or braking while hydroplaning. Drive steadily, refraining from abrupt actions like accelerating during turns. If you lose control, do not panic, release the gas, and gently correct your direction.

Whether you are driving to and from work, running errands, or just out for a leisurely Sunday drive, making sure that you get to your destination and home safely is important. Often, we forget that driving is a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. If we take that responsibility seriously and are properly prepared for our travels, we can prevent roadway hazards. By following the tips presented here, you can become a better driver and help make the roads safer for everyone.

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