Being a safe driver means you are less likely to experience a car accident, avoid traffic tickets, and protect yourself and others from harm. There are many benefits to being a safe driver. In addition to avoiding precarious situations and costly tickets, your wallet may benefit. Some auto insurance policies reward safe drivers with discounts and rebates off their insurance rates. Whether you’ve just gotten your driver’s license or you’re a seasoned driver, a review of our safety tips for spring driving will be a good refresher on driving habits that will protect yourself and others on the road.
Watch for Motorcycles
Motorcycles can be much more difficult to see than the average car due to their smaller size. Motorcycles are also much more dangerous as they lack the safety features such as airbags and seatbelts that help protect drivers in a collision. Drivers that encounter motorcycles on the road should take extra precautions to avoid a collision with motorcycle riders.
The best way to protect yourself from colliding with a motorcycle is to always be aware of their position when near your vehicle. Give the motorcyclist plenty of space, increasing the usual 3 seconds to 5 seconds of following time. Check your blind spots, especially if you’re driving a larger vehicle such as a van or SUV. Use your mirrors, cameras, and turn your head to check blind spots before changing lanes or turning. Be sure to signal when you plan to change lanes to communicate your intentions. Because of their compact nature, motorcycles may be overlooked, especially in twilight conditions or inclement weather.
Expect the unexpected while on the road, especially when motorcycles are near. Give motorcycles plenty of space on the road. Just because motorcycles are not as wide as the average car, and don’t use an entire lane while traveling, it’s never okay to pass them in the same lane. You wouldn’t encroach on a neighboring vehicle’s lane, so, avoid doing so with motorcycles. Additionally, be watchful of motorcycle signals. If you encounter a motorcycle on the road that has their turn signal in motion, allow time to observe what the rider does next. Motorcycle riders must remember to manually activate deactivate their turn signals, unlike your vehicle that does this automatically. Give the rider a moment to turn or change lanes as necessary.
Watch for Pedestrians
Drivers must always yield to pedestrians. No matter the situation, pedestrians always have the right-of-way. Be mindful of people who may not follow the rules of the road, especially children. Always observe posted speed limits, especially when many pedestrians are around, such as in school zones, downtown areas, and neighborhoods. Be especially vigilant when pulling out of driveways and parking spaces. It is often difficult to see pedestrians, especially small children, behind vehicles.
Many people ask, “Do you have to stop at crosswalks?” the answer is yes when pedestrians are present. If the area is clear, you may proceed. When you approach a crosswalk, however, whether people on foot are present or not, slow down and be prepared to stop. You never know if someone will dart out in front of your car. When you do stop, be sure to leave plenty of space for pedestrians to walk.
Going back to the basics of safe driving, the fundamentals that you were given when you first learned to drive, are a great way to drive safely. Make your Driver’s Education teacher proud, by implementing the basics you learned so many years ago. A few key reminders for being safe on the road:
- Watch Your Speed – Observe and follow the speed limits, especially in neighborhoods and school zones.
- Watch for Buses – School buses are carrying precious cargo. When school buses are stopped, and their red lights are flashing with the stop sign arm engaged, drivers must stop. Do not attempt to pass the school bus until the driver deactivates the lights and resumes motion.
- Watch Your Space – Do not tailgate the driver in front of you. Tailgating is by far the most dangerous habit you can pick up while driving. Drivers who tailgate are more likely to cause a rear-ending. Allow for a minimum of three seconds between you and the car in front of you.
- Watch for Lights – Green means ‘go’, red means ‘stop’, yellow means, ‘slow down and get ready to stop’ not ‘floor it!’ When you approach an intersection, if you’re not speeding, you should easily be able to stop. If you’re far enough into the intersection, you should be able to proceed before the light turns red. Additionally, check your rearview mirrors frequently to keep an eye out for lights from emergency vehicles. Pull over to the right-hand side if you identify an emergency vehicle or police vehicle approaching you with their lights and sirens on.
- Watch Out for the Bicyclist – Not all bicycle riders are familiar with the rules of riding and thus can be unpredictable. Give plenty of space to bicycles riding in the bike lane.