Participation in today’s traffic can be a very dangerous job. Generally speaking, life has become much hastier than just a couple of decades ago. With so many problems looming over their heads and very little time on their disposal, people rush their vehicle past the speed limits, text while they’re driving and do other irresponsible things. This way, they are not only putting only their own lives in danger but make the roads unsafe for other drivers as well. Unfortunately, all these things are beyond our control.
So, what we can do to become safer while driving? It’s simple – become a part of the solution rather than the problem. Here are a couple of tips that should help you become a more conscious driver.
Take some time to get to know your vehicle
Although they all work on the same basic principle, all vehicles have their specific behaviors and their set of quirks – especially if they are long off the assembly line. The problem is that most of these problems and limitations show their face only during crises where the room for mistakes is terrifyingly small. So as a step one of becoming a better driver, take your vehicle to an empty parking lot and give it a good performance test. Also, be sure to do give it a check-in different weather conditions.
Take care of the maintenance
Regardless of whether your car is in pristine condition or you are driving an older model, you should regularly inspect the vehicle and take care of maintenance issues according to the following guidelines:
- Engine oil – At least once a month
- Tire pressure – Every time after you refuel
- Brakes – Twice a year (once before summer and once before winter)
- Power steering fluid – Every four years or after the vehicle has passed 50,000 miles (80,500 kilometers)
- Alignment – Every twelve months or after the vehicle has passed 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers)
- Antifreeze – The vehicle’s coolant level should be checked twice a year (once before summer and once before winter)
- Tire tread – Every two weeks or at least once a month
- Lights – At least once a year
Take additional driving classes
Things can vary from state to state, but we can all agree that simply acquiring a permit doesn’t always produce the most competent drivers. If you feel that your theoretical knowledge is incomplete or that you lack confidence, you should probably take a couple of additional classes to iron out these shortcomings. If we take Australia, for example, we can find companies like Ezlicence offering driving lessons tailored to users of different skill levels. Use this to improve your competence and reliability.
Turn off the distractions
Although we often like to brag how we juggle dozens of different tasks at the same time, recent research has shown that, with rare exceptions, multitasking is virtually impossible. What our brains actually do when faced with multiple tasks is quickly shift focus from one thing to the next. What does that mean for the participation in the traffic? Well, the more distractions you surround yourself with, the less time your brain will have to focus on the road. So, keep your phone in your pocket and music turned off.
Be mindful when driving
As soon we become more confident, we tend to look at driving less as an active process and more as something to do on an auto-pilot. As a result, our vigilance and reaction times take a huge blow, and this problem only becomes worse if we are constantly traversing the same old routes (e.g. driving to work). Don’t fall into this trap and behave like all other drives will try to ram you at any given moment. Take notice of all the signs and warnings, and strictly abide by speed limitations.
Prepare for the travel
And do this without exception – no matter whether you are going on a multi-day trip or simply taking your kids to school. Make sure you are hydrated, you had enough sleep and you’re properly fueled up (we are talking about a quick snack or coffee). Also, take some time to plan the route and check the driving conditions. Bad weather and traffic problems can have a great influence on the performance of other participants in traffic, so you need to be aware of all these details.
We hope these six tips gave you some general idea of how you can become a better and more conscious driver and thus improve overall road safety. Once we sit in the car and take part in traffic, there are too many things that are out of our control. That makes properly managing the factors we actually have an influence over all the more important.