10 Steps to Responsible Driving
Let’s look at ways to improve your responsible driving habits. Since you cannot control the actions of other road users, you must rely on your own driving skills and experience. Following these ten rules ensures that your driving is safe and courteous to all who share the road with you.
- Plan Your Route: Know where you’re going ahead of time. Tune into a local media source to be well informed about weather and road conditions or traffic activity on your route. Then you can avoid delays or allow extra drive time. For longer trips, include a rest stop every two hours. Stop sooner if you are tired.
- Maintain Your Vehicle: Read your vehicle’s owner’s manual and follow the recommended schedule for maintenance service. Conduct your own routine check-ups on: tires, brakes, lights, wipers, and fluid levels. For good visibility make sure your mirrors, windows and outside lights are clean. Secure any loose items or cargo that could become a hazard.
- Focus Your Attention: Being a safe driver means being both physically and mentally prepared to drive. Being well rested, alert and attentive enables you to respond quickly when other drivers do not make that choice. Take a break if you have difficulty focusing. Remain calm—don’t let your temper or frustration cause you to act recklessly.
- Minimize Your Distractions: Taking your hands off the wheel, your eyes off the road or your mind off of the driving task puts you and others at risk. People, objects, or events inside and outside your vehicle can distract you. Driving demands total concentration. Any activities that interfere with your driving are more than you can safely manage.
- Know Your Surroundings: Look out for trouble. Scan the roadway continually for hazards. Keep your eyes moving, looking from one side to the other. Know what is happening well ahead of you, watch for taillights. Know what is to the rear and sides of your vehicle. Use the mirrors to keep an eye on traffic behind you.
- Share Your Space: Many crashes could be prevented if drivers behaved courteously to other road users. You share the road with drivers of various ages and skill levels. You also share the road with pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and vehicles of varying sizes. Be aware of special needs and limitations of other drivers and roadway users.
- Watch Your Speed: Posted maximum speeds are for ideal driving conditions. Adjust your speed for traffic, road and visibility conditions or when not operating at your best. Higher speeds magnify your errors and provide less time to identify and react to a hazard, stopping distances are longer and crashes are more severe.
- Keep Your Distance: Give yourself room to maneuver. You’ll need it in a crisis. To protect yourself, keep a large “safety cushion” around your vehicle. This will enable you to change lanes safely and give you room to take evasive action in emergencies. Keeping a safe distance between vehicles increases your ability to see and to be seen by other drivers.
- Signal Your Intentions: Driving can be a stressful business. Be courteous and signal your intentions so other road users know what you plan to do next. Be predictable. Don’t hesitate to use your horn or headlights to establish eye contact, when needed. Remember to express your thanks, by a wave of the hand or a flash of your lights.
- Always Wear Your Seat Belt: Seat belts are your best defense in a crash. Being properly secured keeps you in control of your vehicle and ready to react to a hazardous situation. So buckle up … and that includes your children and other passengers in front and rear seats.