8 Ways to Become a Better, Safer Driver

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Although I’ve lived with mental illness my whole life, I am not a medical professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links. You can read my full disclaimer.

I am the person who paid extra attention in my driver’s ed class during my junior year of high school. I took the course as an elective, and if I earned an A at the end of the semester, I got to take the driving test with my driver’s ed teacher. Well, I did. And I passed with flying colors.

I really soaked up every little hint and tip my teacher showed me, and it really paid off. I’ve never been in a car crash, and I’ve never gotten a ticket.

Just think, a lot of car accidents aren’t even accidents at all. There is almost always someone who’s responsible, and I hate how so many people put other people’s lives in danger. 

8 Ways to Become a Better, Safer Driver

A lot of my everyday anxiety is triggered by being in a car.

My triggers:

  • Left-hand turns: I hate the spotlight, and I feel like everyone is staring at me as I make the turn. I always feel like somehow I’m going to mess up.
  • Tailgating: Tailgating just makes me want to scream. Like, just stop.
  • The highway: I feel like people always drive their worse on the highway. And since speeds are much higher, anything can happen at a moment’s notice. I just feel so out of control.

I’ve been working really hard to overcome my anxieties of driving, and the best way to do this is by becoming a safer driver, one car at a time.

1. SEAT BELT CHECK

The first thing I do before I ever take my foot off the brake is check and see if everyone is wearing their seat belt. Obviously, it’s against the law to drive without one, but seat belts are used to save people’s lives. I will do absolutely no driving until I know everyone is safe and secure. 

I hated watching my grandpa always drive without wearing one, and if I see a reality star not wearing one when they’re in the car, I automatically lose respect for them.

2. PUT DOWN YOUR PHONE

All it takes is one second to completely change your life. Just put down your goddamn phone and quit putting everybody else’s life around you in jeopardy. Need I say more?

If you’re cool like me, pledge for It Can Wait.

Checking who just texted you or changing the song on your smartphone is not worth it.

3. WAIT TO TURN

You know those people. They sit in the intersection. They wait to make a left-hand turn. The light’s changing to yellow. The driver still can’t turn. The light is now red. Uh oh. Not again.

Now all the drivers on the adjacent side of the intersection have to wait until the other car gets the heck out of the way.

Moral of the story? Only pull up into the intersection if you know you have space to make a left-hand turn, and quit being annoying.

4. SLOW DOWN

Ever see a sign with big numbers on it on the side of the road? Well, those little things are called speed limits. And guess what? They’re there for a reason.

If you see the caution speed limit sign going around a curve, this is because you need to slow down. Construction zone? Slow down. School zone? Please slow down. Bad weather? Just slow the heck down.

And have you ever noticed that those people who swerve and speed around you are the ones who always get stuck at the same exact stoplight? Hmm, imagine that. 

5. STOP FURTHER AWAY

Nearly every time I’m the passenger seat of the car, I cringe. This is because the driver stopped to close to the car in front of them. If you can’t see the car’s tires in front of you, then you stopped too close.

Here’s why:

  • Car stalls in front of you: Several times I’ve been in a situation where the car in front of me was having car troubles. If you pull too close, you’ll have to wait for every single car behind you to back up before you can get around the stalled car. It truly is a time-consuming hassle.
  • Car hits you from behind: Not only will your car be hit from behind, but you will get damage to the front of your car as well because you’ll also ram into the car in front of you. And yes, legally, you are responsible for hitting that car.

6. CHECK BLINDSPOT

You checked your mirrors and you think you’re in the clear. But as soon as you start to switch lanes, you hear a car horn blare at you. This is because you didn’t check your blind spot.

Your blind spot is the area of your car where you can’t see in either mirror.

Before you back up or switch lanes, physically turn your body to see if there is a car. Check and recheck. Look at that, you just avoided a collision.

Also, avoid being in somebody else’s blind spot. Slow down and give them their space.

7. 3 SECOND RULE

I freaking hate drivers who are tailgaters. Like one of my biggest pet peeves ever.

One of the best ways to avoid rear-ended collisions is to use the 3-second rule. Make sure there is always at least a 3-second distance between you and the car in front of you. And in cases of bad weather, you should increase this to 5 seconds.

Whatchu gotta do is focus on a stationary object, such as a tree or sign on the side of the road. Start counting as the car in front of you passes it. Count three whole seconds until you can pass that marker. Viola.

Keep up with it, and keep checking if you’re still following this rule.

8. GIVE YOURSELF AN OUT

Even though there is a 3-second distance between you and the car in front of you, they were tailgating the car in front of them. They had to slam on their brakes unexpectedly and go into the next lane to avoid a crash. You didn’t see that coming so you also had to slam on your breaks and swerve.

If you didn’t constantly check your mirrors and your blind spots, you wouldn’t have known that you had an out.

Always scan the road for possible areas of safety, because situations on the road are constantly changing. The best outs are on your right-hand side. This way you can avoid going towards oncoming traffic and potentially causing a car crash.

BONUS TIP:

The pump at the gas station automatically stops filling your tank for a reason. Trying to pump more into your car only causes problems.

Why you should stop:

  • It’s toxic: The fumes are toxic and hazardous. Spills are more likely to happen, only harming the environment more.
  • It wastes money: You’re not actually paying for gas for you car when you try to pump more gas in. That gas just says in the hose, ready for the next customer.
  • It can ruin your car: Gas needs room to expand. The extra gas may evaporate into your car’s vapor recovery system and cause mechanical problems.

See, you’re already feel yourself becoming a better driver, don’t you?

And for Pete’s sake, use your goddamn turn signal.

Do you think you’re a good or bad driver? What areas can you improve on?


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