The NHTSA estimates that a staggering 93% of all car crashes are caused by human error. Statistics don’t lie: being a cautious, defensive driver can help you avoid an accident on the road. Here are our 6 tips for staying safe behind the wheel:

  1. Slow down.
    Speeding’s a major cause of motor vehicle fatalities. Think about it this way: hurtling at very high speeds in a giant hunk of metal weighing nearly 2 tons is already pretty risky. And driving at excess speeds puts you and others at even greater risk. So be mindful of the gas pedal. Avoid tailgating, follow posted speed limits, and you’ll already be doing yourself and others a huge favor.

  2. Beware of blind spots.
    Don’t rely on mirrors alone. Every time you change lanes, throw a look over your shoulder to catch anything your rearview or side mirrors don’t. And avoid lingering in other drivers’ blind spots as best as you can — they might not be as apt to looking over their shoulder as you are.

  3. Scan your surroundings.
    Experts recommend scanning the area that’s about 10-12 seconds ahead of you. That way, if a car stops or swerves suddenly you have ample time to react. Check all of your mirrors frequently so you know what’s going on around you. And when crossing an intersection on a green light, do so with caution and your head on a swivel … just in case another driver runs a red. 

  4. Maintain your vehicle.
    Cars that are well maintained are safer to drive and more reliable. Bringing your car in for diagnostics can mean the difference between being stranded on the side of the road and getting to your destination safe and sound. From keeping your tires in shape to changing your oil regularly, consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual for proper car maintenance to make sure it’s as reliable as can be. This is especially crucial if you plan on roadtripping. 

  5. Know the hazards of nighttime driving.
    Driving at night is 3 times as dangerous as driving during the daylight hours. Everything from your peripheral vision to your depth perception are affected. Plus there’s an increased risk of drunk and fatigued drivers — in fact, the latter can be more dangerous than drunk driving. If you have to be on the road at night, remember to slow down, minimize distractions, and stop every 2 hours to rest if you’re in it for the long haul.

  6. Don’t be a distracted driver.
    As many as 10% of all fatal crashes are believed to’ve been caused by distracted driving. Texting, plucking your eyebrows, talking on your phone, eating a hamburger … any of these can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds. And at 55 mph, you’ll have covered about the length of a football field in that time. Yikes! When hurtling down the highway, other tasks can wait. Staying focused and alert is safer for you and everyone else.

Wondering how car accidents impact your insurance premiums? Find out how accidents affect your insurance rate. You’ll also be happy to know that safe drivers can save A LOT on coverage. So, be sure to check out our DriveSense® mobile app. It tracks your driving and customizes your savings based on how safe you are. DriveSense is free to download and you get an instant discount just for enrolling. Now THAT makes sense.

Safe and smart

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about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.