Driving safely is as important as it is easy. It’s especially critical to practice good driving habits in inclement weather and densely populated areas. When we’re younger, we go through driver’s education and classes to learn proper skills. But as we get older, it’s all too easy to slip into distracted driving and other reckless behaviors if we’re not mindful.
The knowledgeable car accident attorneys at Peterson & Associates, P.C. in Kansas City want everyone to stay safe, so here’s a refresher on driving skills that make a difference.
Good Driving Habits to Help Everyone Stay Safe
The following tips for securing your wellbeing are recommended by The Missouri Driver Guide. If you’d like a more comprehensive version, you’ll find one online at the Missouri Department of Revenue site, or request a booklet from the Missouri State Highway Patrol or any motor vehicle and driver licensing office.
Always utilize seat belts and child restraints
Studies show that you’re significantly less likely to be injured or killed in an accident if you use a seat belt. Additionally, Missouri state law requires that seat belts be worn by the driver and all passengers at all times, and there are particular regulations for child safety seats based on age, weight, and height.
The following defensive driving techniques are crucial for safe travel:
- Stay alert. Be aware of what’s happening in front of you, on all sides of you, and every few seconds, check your mirrors to see what’s going on behind you. Pay constant attention to avoid crossing over the center dividing line.
- Expect mistakes from other drivers. Consider what you would do if a nearby driver made a mistake. Always leave yourself a way out. Even if you have the right of way, assume the other driver doesn’t know that.
- Never rely on traffic signs or signals to keep others from acting out of turn. It’s always possible for another driver to ignore traffic rules or make a mistake. Even when you have the green light, make sure opposing traffic on either side of the intersection comes to a full stop.
Sit up straight
It’s ideal to have your back straight and upright against the seat. Adjust your seat so it’s close enough for you to reach the pedals, but far enough away for your elbows to be in front of you while holding the steering wheel.
Don’t follow too closely
Leave adequate space between you and the vehicle in front. A good way to think about this is to leave one full car length as the distance between you and the car ahead for every 10 miles per hour (mph) of your speed. For example, if you’re traveling at 60 mph, you should leave six car lengths between you and the car in front of you.
Drive appropriately for weather conditions
Wet and icy roads make it much more difficult to stop at a moment’s notice. It’s wise to drive slowly in these conditions, and use the car length formula above to create an even more safe space between you and the vehicle ahead.
Always use turn signals
Other drivers don’t know what you plan to do before you do it. Give them a heads-up by using signals before changing lanes or making turns.
Expect the unexpected
Be especially aware of your surroundings. If you’re driving in an area where animal crossing road signs are present, don’t speed. Most deer-related accidents in Missouri happen in January and May, and from October to December. When it’s dark, use your high-beam headlights when opposing traffic isn’t in your line of vision.
Place your phone out of sight or use cell phone blocking technology so you’re distracted by notifications. Try not to look at the radio when adjusting the dials. Avoid looking away from the road whenever possible.
Unfortunately, all your best defensive driving skills can’t always protect you from the reckless behavior of another driver. If you or a loved one experienced a serious car accident and don’t know if you have a claim for compensation, reach out to an attorney who specializes in car accident cases and can provide insight into how you should proceed.