Safe Driving

Safe Driving Tips

Crash tests are used to find safety issues
and test solutions to make cars safer and reduce
injuries and deaths from car accidents.
Now-a-day, we drive safer cars on safer roads. Because of rising advertisements and public information campaigns, we are awarded and have made most of us safer drivers. So the U.S. logged the lowest accident fatality rate ever recorded in 2008 [source: NHTSA]. In spite of this progress, unfortunately, the number of auto accidents and fatalities worldwide is still quite staggering. Technology-improvements will continue to assists bring those numbers down, but the bottom line remains that most car accidents are the result of human error. The best way to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Whether you're just learning to drive or you've been behind the wheel for decades, it's a good idea to review some basic rules for safe driving. Here is a few driving tips that will assist to bring you and your passengers home unharmed.
(1) You shouldn't drive drunk

More than 30% of all auto accident fatalities in the U.S involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 11,773 deaths in 2008 alone [source: NHTSA]. Most of those deaths could've been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn't gotten behind the wheel while drunk. Alcohol causes a number of impairments that lead to car accidents. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, intoxication reduces reaction time and coordination and lowers inhibitions, which can cause drivers to make foolish choices. At higher levels, alcohol causes blurred or double vision and even loss of consciousness. Drunk driving isn't just a terrible idea -- it's a crime. It's easy to avoid driving drunk. If you've been drinking, ask a sober friend for a ride or call a cab. If you're planning to drink, make sure you have a designated driver.

(2) You shouldn't speed

Crash test dummies are used to gather 
information about the damage that 
can result from the extreme forces exerted 
on a body during a violent impact

Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent [source: ERSO]. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains the consequences of fast driving quite simply: "Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per year. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes" [source: NHTSA].
For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph (16.1 kph) faster is only going to save you a few minutes -- while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you'll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. If you really need to get there as fast as possible, there's one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.
Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths
and 330,000 injuries in the 
United States every year

(3) You should avoid distractions

Most states in U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths in U.S every year, by some estimates [source: Live Science]. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and taxing while driving isn't a big deal, consider this: Some researchers compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What's more, working a cell phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent. But I want to say, it isn't just cell phones that cause distractions. However, eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver's attention in potentially deadly ways.

(4) You shouldn't drive drowsy
A facial recognition system monitors the driver's 
eyes for signs of drowsiness. 
A study conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech reported that 20 percent of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor [source: TheDenverChannel]. If a driver is tired enough to actually fall asleep while driving, the results are predictable. Even on a relatively straight highway, a sleeping driver will eventually drift off the road. Trees, utility poles, ravines and bridge abutments turn this into a deadly scenario -- and that doesn't even take other cars into account. Get a better night's sleep! Make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep, not just on the night before a long drive, but on a regular basis. Failure to get enough sleep every night builds a sleep deficit that can leave you drowsy and unable to focus. If you're driving and feel the least bit groggy, take action immediately. Don't think you'll get any kind of warning before you fall asleep, or that you can fight it off. People can move from drowsy to sound asleep without warning. If this happens to you, have a friend take over behind the wheel, find a rest area where you can catch a few hours of sleep or take a break until you're feeling more alert.

(5) You should wear seat belt

Seatbelts save approximately 13,000 lives in
United States each year.
Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle. NHTSA statistics reveal that more than half of all accident fatalities were people who weren't using seat belts [source: NHTSA]. The numbers are much scarier for young drivers and passengers: A staggering 70 percent of fatal crash victims between the ages of 13 and 15 weren't wearing seat belts. In the overwhelming majority of car crashes; you have a greater chance of surviving if you're wearing a seat belt. Even a low-speed crash can send an unbelted person careening into the dashboard or side window, resulting in severe head injuries or broken bones. At higher speeds, the possible fates of the unbelted occupant are gruesome: severe lacerations from being propelled through the windshield; struck by other cars because you landed on the road; slammed into a tree or a house at 50 mph (80 kph). Sound scary? Then buckle up.

(6) You should be an extra careful in bad weather

What feature are new cars equipped with to 
enhance visibility?

If you're driving through fog, heavy rain, a snow storm or on icy-roads, be extra cautious! Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you're driving through weather conditions you don't know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm. If you're experiencing bad visibility, either from fog or snow, and you end up off the side of the road (intentionally or otherwise), turn off your lights. Drivers who can't see the road will be looking for other cars to follow along the highway. When they see your lights, they'll drive toward you and may not realize you're not moving in time to avoid a collision. 

(7) You shouldn't follow too closely

Safe driving guidelines advise drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a "three-second rule." The three-second rule is simple. Find a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car ahead of you passes it, start counting seconds. At least three seconds should pass before your car passes the same object [source: SmartMotorist]. Once you have some driving experience and have practiced keeping this minimum distance, you'll develop an instinct for it and know how close to follow without having to count. However, even experienced drivers should count off the three-second rule now and then to make sure.
At night or in inclement weather, double the recommended time to six seconds.

(8) You should watch out for the other guy

Some new vehicles come equipped with directionally 
adaptive bi-xenon headlights and daytime running lights. 
See what police use to catch speeders next.
Often, it doesn't matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule of thumb to use is, "Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot." In other words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, uncongealed turns, swerving, tailgating and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are, you'll eventually encounter someone like this -- and it pays to be ready when you do. It's impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you're pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has its turn signal on, don't assume it's actually turning. You might pull out only to find that turn signal has been blinking since 1987. If you're approaching an intersection where you have the right of way, and another approaching car has the stop sign, don't assume it will actually stop. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to brake. Obviously, being prepared requires awareness, so make sure you check your mirrors and keep an eye on side streets so you'll know which other cars are around you and how they're driving. Don't focus only on the road in front of your car -- look ahead so you can see what's happening 50 to 100 yards (46 to 91 meters) up the road.
A rear-view camera helps drivers fight blind spots.

(9) You should practice defensive driving

This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don't be that jerk. Aggressive driving is hard to quantify, but it definitely increases the risk of accidents. Studies show that young male drivers are more likely to drive aggressively [source: NCHRP]. An aggressive driver does more than just violate the tips in this article -- they may intentionally aggravate other drivers, initiate conflict, use rude gestures or language, tailgate or impede other cars, or flash their headlights out of frustration. These behaviors aren't just annoying, they're dangerous. Defensive driving incorporates the other tips shown here, such as maintaining a safe distance and not speeding, but remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues is another major part of the concept. Accept small delays, such as staying in line behind a slower car instead of abruptly changing lanes. Yield to other cars, even if you technically have the right of way. Defensive driving is not only safer, it can save you money. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete defensive driving courses.

(10) You should keep your vehicle safe

The next safety feature can prevent drivers
from backing up into people and objects.
Car servicing isn't just an important way to extent your car's life -- it's a major safety issue. Many maintenance issues are addressed by state mandated vehicle inspections. If your car is unsafe, the inspecting mechanic will let you know what you need to do to fix it. However, there could be a year or more between inspections, so car owners need to be aware of any potential safety issues and get them repaired before they lead to an accident. One common maintenance problems is improper tire pressure that can lead to a crash. Uneven tire pressure or that is too high or low, can impact performance or lead to a blowout -- especially in high-performance cars or heavy vehicles like SUVs. You can buy a cheap pressure gauge at any auto parts store and check the pressure against the recommendation in your owner's manual. While you're at it, you might want to rotate your tires to promote even wear and consistent performance.
Another key area is the car's brakes. If you notice some "softness" in the brake pedal, or feel a vibration when the brakes are applied, get them checked out by a professional mechanic. The brakes could be wearing out or you could have a problem with the car's hydraulic system.

·           European Road Safety Observatory. "Speed and accident risk." Accessed Nov. 11, 2009.
·           National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "Traffic Safety Fact Sheets." Accessed Nov. 11, 2009.
·  "Maintain a Safe Following Distance (The 3 Second Rule)." Accessed Nov. 11, 2009.
     Britt, Robert Roy. "Drivers on Cell Phones Kill Thousands, Snarl Traffic." LiveScience, Feb. 1, 2005. Accessed Nov. 11, 2009.
           National Cooperative Highway Research Program. "Aggressive Driving." Accessed Nov. 12, 2009.
·  "Woman Videotaped Falling Asleep While Driving On I-25." Accessed Nov. 12, 2009.