Knowledge, awareness, and consideration can prevent car accidents that result in expenses, legal violations, injuries, and death. This paper is for anyone, new driver or experienced, that would like some additional driving tips and ways to avoid common mistakes. Distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving are the top three causes of auto accidents in America. By knowing and following the rules of the road, being comfortable with your vehicle, and having some sense of responsibility, you can increase your chances of avoiding an accident.
I consider myself to be a good driver. My turn signal gets great use. In the nearly 13 years I’ve been driving, I’ve only been in one car accident – and I was not at fault. There are some things I’ve learned to do in order to make my driving experience safer and more comfortable. First, I check all my tires before I even get into the car. If a tire is flat or otherwise damaged, it could cause an accident or disturbance on the road by driving on it. I also check my gas level, for the same reason. Then, I make sure I’m familiar with the placement of the lights, blinker, brakes, climate and radio controls. Acquainting yourself with the vehicle will prevent distracted driving while you’re on the road. Luckily, I’ve had the same car for a while, so I’m pretty comfortable in it, but some people don’t drive the same car frequently. Finally, I adjust the seat, seatbelt, and mirrors so I’m comfortable, secure, have a wide range of visibility, and can access all controls. I occasionally let my partner use my car, and he’s much taller than me, so checking the mirrors before I drive is imperative.
While driving, I focus on the task at hand. I try to stay completely aware of my surroundings, and how my vehicle is interacting with others on the road. Is someone passing me? Is a truck trying to merge? Is everyone coming to stop, or slowing down? I like to be very aware of other drivers on the road around me. Just because I’m driving safely does not mean that others are paying as much attention as I am, and I want to be ready to react if that is the case. I do my best to watch out for signs and signals that might tell me what to do next. I have some anxiety when driving in unfamiliar places, so relying on signage is a must, for me. I watch for the blinkers on other vehicles, telling me where they plan to move. When I turn or merge, I check my blind spots by physically turning my head (instead of just relying on mirrors), and use my blinker. New Michigan drivers are taught that you should indicate at least 100 ft from where you intend to turn, or 5 seconds before changing lanes. Obviously, understanding all the signs, road markers, and signal lights is crucial. Pay attention to the road, and you’re less likely to get into an accident.
I try to have courtesy while driving. I understand that I’m not the only person on the road, so I do my best to be reasonably accommodating to others. Doing otherwise is not only inconsiderate, but sometimes illegal. If an emergency vehicle comes up behind you, with lights flashing, pull over to the right side of the road. If a school bus stops in front of you and lights start flashing, stop completely at least 20 ft behind it in order to ensure the safety of the kids getting on or off. Always let people know what your next move is by using your blinker. Slow down, speed up, or move over in order to let other drivers merge onto the highway.
I live in a neighborhood in Detroit, where drivers often seem to think they’re in the Wild West. I see a lot of surprising and inexplicable behavior on the road. Some drivers have no regard for others, or for the law. Other drivers are distracted and aren’t paying attention to their surroundings. A great example of this is drivers running or rolling through stop signs and red lights. I live at an intersection that sees a lot of this. Many times, I’ve been suddenly jarred by the sounds of glass shattering and metal folding, tires screeching as the car that should have stopped careens into an unsuspecting driver. Pedestrians and cyclists crossing the street have also been smacked by careless drivers plowing their way across the intersection.
The most prevalent thing I observe on the road is drivers not using blinkers. Not only do blinkers indicate to others facing you and behind you what your next move is, but they also allow other drivers to make time and space to accommodate you in turning, merging, or switching lanes. It’s dangerous to drive around without using indicators, especially in high traffic areas. “A turn signal is your only method of communication on the road.” Tailgating is another thing I see, which I feel is dangerous for obvious reasons. If you’re following the car in front of you too closely, you cannot see what is happening in front of them, and you’re giving yourself no stop time in the event they have to suddenly stop, swerve, or have a collision.
Driving far under or over the speed limit is dangerous. Speeding is the #2 cause of auto accidents, as it does not allow the speeder the amount of reaction time they may need to make a decision on the road. Speeding up to catch a yellow light, or jumping a green light, causes accidents. Driving too slowly can create a disturbance in the flow of traffic. If you find yourself in an accident, I’m sure you’ll be glad that you (and all your passengers) were wearing a seatbelt. They really do save lives, preventing you from being violently jolted from your car in the event of a collision.
Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving. An example of distracted driving is texting, or talking on the phone. Texting while driving is 6 times more likely to cause an accident than driving under the influence of alcohol is. In the 5 seconds it takes to answer a text, a moving car can travel the length of a football field. Distractions such as looking for climate control or radio control can be avoided by familiarizing yourself with the vehicle before driving. Special attention should also be paid on clear, sunny days, which are when most accidents occur.
Driving is a privilege, and should be approached with a sense of responsibility. Your life and the lives of others are affected when improper, illegal, and inconsiderate driving ends in an accident. Everyone has somewhere to be, and the convenience of driving should not be taken for granted. It is your responsibility to operate your vehicle in a way that does not put you or others in danger. Operating a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence puts lives in danger. Drunk driving ends 10,000+ lives per year. Avoid that risk by never getting behind the wheel when “buzzed” or drunk. Uber, Lyft, taxis, and other companies are happy to have your business, and get you there safely.
The environmental impact of driving is also something to consider when taking on the responsibility of driving. I drive a car that gets moderate to good gas mileage. I carpool when I can, and take public transportation to reduce emissions. If everyone were to make some sort of effort toward more efficient transportation habits, we all could be helping the environment and saving money. Emissions are not the only harm we do to the environment, though. Littering is a serious problem that most cities face. People love a good clean car, but sometimes instead of throwing their trash away, it gets dumped out a car window. The problem is so serious that most states have Littering Penalties, that include fines, community service, and even jail time.
There are many ways you can contribute to safer and more responsible driving conditions. It is possible to find a better way to drive. By obeying signs and signals, having courtesy, staying aware of your surroundings, and knowing the rules of the road, you’re setting yourself up to be more likely to avoid an accident. You can then pride yourself on your driving skills, and make this every day task easier and safer for everyone.
Practice driving test: https://driving-tests.org/michigan/michigan-permit-practice-test/
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