These safe driving tips will help your insured’s drivers
Driving safely is a learned behavior. Too often we become complacent and distracted behind the wheel. Eventually it catches up with us. For that reason, we’re providing a list of safe driving tips to share with your tribal clients, so that they can pass them along to employees who drive on the job.
Remember the last time you got a speeding ticket or were in an auto accident? Chances are you slowed down, stopped tailgating, etc. for maybe a month afterwards. That costly ticket or accident was still fresh on your mind, and you certainly didn’t want a repeat. That’s why we say safe driving is a learned behavior. It often goes against our grain, especially when we’re in a hurry. These safe driving tips are provided by The Hartford and other subject matter experts.
Safe driving tip #1: Do a walk-around
Before you put your vehicle in “Drive,” The Hartford reminds us to run a quick vehicle check:
- Look for oil, water or fuel leaks and for cut or worn spots on tires. Check tire pressure and fluid levels.
- Make sure instrument gauges, windshield fluid and wipers, heater and defroster are working properly.
- Check headlights and turn signals; test your horn.
- Check fuel tank level.
- Keep all the lenses and mirrors clean.
Related: Tips for using employee-owned vehicles in your tribal business
Safe driving tip #2: Minimize distractions
- Wear your seatbelt.
- Adjust mirrors and driver’s seat before moving the vehicle.
- If using GPS, dial in your destination before leaving.
- Otherwise, refuse to respond to cell phone pings and rings until you’re safely parked.
- Keep change for tools within easy reach.
- Clear the dashboard of papers or items that could cause glare or distract you.
- Store or secure loose items safely, including laptop computers.
- Keep music turned low; don’t use earphones or earbuds that may prevent you from hearing horns, sirens and other traffic noises that alert you to upcoming trouble.
Related: Lower your commercial auto insurance rates with these 7 tips
Safe driving tip #3: Drive defensively
Approaching a traffic light or intersection
- If the light is red, slow down and be prepared to stop in case it doesn’t change.
- If the light is green, approach with caution in case it changes.
- If the light is changing from red to green, slow down to give the intersection time to clear.
- Scan intersections, watching for pedestrians and any drivers not waiting their turn.
- Keep your foot poised over the brake so you can react quickly if you need to.
Keep a safe distance
- Get in the habit of counting your space cushion. When the vehicle ahead passes a fixed object, start counting one thousand-and-one, one thousand-and-two … until you’ve passed the same spot or reference point. If you’re driving a car or van, you need at least a three-second cushion. Allow four seconds for a truck or bus; five seconds if driving a tractor-trailer.
- When getting ready to pass another vehicle, maintain an adequate space cushion. Pulling up too closely limits the visibility you need to pass safely.
- Don’t drive too aggressively. It’s better to be 10 minutes late than not to arrive at all.
- Get in the habit of using turn signals every time you make a turn or change lanes.
- In a right turn, don’t pull wide to the left; otherwise, the driver behind you may be confused and try to pass you on the right. Instead, start closer to the curb, then swing out in a buttonhook pattern, says The Hartford.
- On a left turn, don’t cut your turn too short so that you partially cross other lanes. Instead, pull far enough into the intersection to make a safe turn.
- If the traffic doesn’t permit an immediate safe turn, your vehicle should not have its front wheels turned while waiting. Otherwise, if you’re struck from behind, you’ll be pushed into the oncoming traffic.
Watch out for tunnel vision
- Don’t focus strictly on the road ahead of you. Instead, continually scan your mirrors so that you’re aware of what’s happening around you.
- Be aware of blind spots and use extra caution when changing lanes.
- Drive defensively: Be prepared for unsignaled turns, unpredictable lane changes, tailgating, sudden stops, swerving, and more. Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone like this, so be ready to react quickly.
Before you put it in reverse
- If necessary, get out and check the area you are backing into for such things as poles, sign posts, potholes and pedestrians – especially children playing.
- Use your mirrors but remember that they can’t cover all the blind spots.
- Watch for overhead obstructions, such as utility wires, signs or roof overhangs.
- Get in the habit of backing into a parking space when you arrive, so you can drive out when leaving.
Safe driving tip #4: Take breaks
If you’re driving for a lengthier time or longer distance, take frequent breaks. Your reaction time slows considerably when you’re tired. Be sure you’re fully engaged – mentally and physically – and fit to drive.
Safe driving tip #5: Drive sober and alert
A no-brainer safe driving tip is this: Don’t drive drunk. But also be sure that any medication you’re taking doesn’t interfere with your vision, alertness or reaction time. Most medications include these warnings on the labels, so follow them.
Related: How your tribal business can combat the rising cost of vehicle crashes
Safe driving tip #6: Adjust to changing road conditions
Anything that reduces your vision – darkness, rain, snow, fog, icy roads – means you need to reduce your speed and increase your space cushion. Slippery roads or strong winds can make handling your vehicle more challenging. Take extra care and slow down. Be especially careful around curves.
If, due to bad visibility, you end up off the side of the road, turn off your lights. Drivers who also can’t see the road will be looking for other cars to follow. They may not realize you’re stopped until it’s too late.
Get into the habit of adjusting your driving to the conditions – it can make the difference between a safe ride home and an accident, says The Hartford.
This article originally appeared on Arrowhead’s corporate blog. It has been updated and modified to better fit the needs of our tribal insurance producers and their clients.