Top 10: Tips For Driving Safely
According to the U.S. Department of Transport's website there were 247,264,605 registered cars in America in 2007; this correlates to just under 1 car per person. The number of cars in this world is constantly growing - especially in developing countries where newer and cheaper models of car are becoming more and more available. So how can you stay safe on the roads with so many cars around? Well, there's the theory that eventually we'll peak at a number so high that all the roads will be fully saturated with cars creating one huge traffic jam where nobody can actually move - sure, it would be rather tricky and inefficient to drive anywhere, but it would be incredibly safe if you decided to do so. However, until such a state occurs, you'll have to make do with these ten tips:
Staying safe on the road
Know where you're going
Plan ahead, work out the route that you're going to take to get where you're going! Carry a map with you in the car (just in case) but if you need to check it, make sure you pull over on the side of the road in a safe place before doing so. Trying to read a map or work out where you need to go while driving means you're not concentrating on the road.
Take account of the weather conditions
The coefficient of friction of the average tyre on an average dry road surface is about 1; when the surface is wet it's about 0.2. What this essentially means is that when the road's wet your tyres only have a fifth of the grip they do when it's dry so you should give cars infront more room as you'll have a greater stopping distance. Other conditions such as ice require that you drive much more slowly, and in fog too.
Make sure everything's secure
At some point in your life you'll have been in a car where there's been a mysterious rattling somewhere - and it really does get quite annoying! If things are moving around in your car then you're going to get distracted by them - either by looking for the source of strange noises or trying to put them back where they were before so make sure everything's secure and can't move around. Objects in the driver's foot well are also highly dangerous as they can lodge themselves under the pedals.
Turn your mobile/ cell phone off
It's obvious that phoning or texting someone while driving is dangerous, so it's best to turn your phone off altogether lest you get tempted. If you leave it on, and, say, recieve a text it's all too tempting to quickly pick it up and read it: unfortunately it also only takes a moment to drift into the wrong lane.
Drive at the speed limit
They're there for a reason, exceeding them only puts yourself and others at risk. Sure, you may drift, say, 5 mph over the limit, but if two cars do that and then collide, it's an additional 10 mph to the speed of impact. You also have less control when you're travelling faster and it puts more strain on your engine.
Don't drink drive
Again, it's obvious and against the law, but people still do it! If you're driving don't drink anything - don't even have 'just one glass' because regardless of how well you can handle alcohol or how little effect you think it'll have on you it will, however small the effect, impair your reaction times and judgement. When driving drunken friends around, never let them sit in the passenger seat; they'll be a big distraction - always make them sit in the back. The exact same applies to drug use.
Don't eat or drink everything
If you're desperate for nourishment, stop and eat or drink, don't do it while on the move. Firstly if you're doing so you can only be using one hand to drive, and secondly if you spill anything on yourself you're going to be distracted from the road in trying to clean yourself up a bit.
Wear your seatbelt
They're definitely not just there to look pretty. Regardless of how uncomfortable they are, or how safe you think your driving is, they could save your life in an accident. If you really find them uncomfortable you can buy various forms of cushion that attach to them to provide a little extra padding.
Keep the music quiet
It's great to blast out music in your car and sing along at the top of your voice, but it also blocks out all the noise from the road - a feature which is far more useful than you might think as horns, the sound of other cars and your own engine all help you to make judgements on various aspects of driving.
Keep your eyes on the road
You've probably noticed a recurring theme in all these tips - and that is that keeping your eyes on the road is crucial. In depth scientific research has shown that it's hard to see things if you're not looking at them (I'm afraid I can't cite the source on that - but you're going to have to believe me) so if you're looking around the inside of your car, fiddling with your radio or anything else, your concentration's not going to be focussed on the road. When driving with other people be sure to not look at them when you talk and listen to them as they're distracting enough without drawing all of your attention.
Well, follow these tips and apply some common sense to what you do when driving and you're sure to stay safe. Just remember, it only takes one mistake.
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