Driving Safety Tips

The following are tips on how to drive more safely and with greater comfort:

1. Try to avoid changing lanes when there is a vehicle parallel to you, 2-lanes over. He/She may be intending to change lanes the same time you are, and it is difficult to determine this.

2. Use the 3-second rule when trailing a vehicle, and you will never have a rear-end accident. Stay 3-seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. You can measure 3-seconds by looking at a landmark such as a road sign. When that vehicle crosses the road sign count out 1-1000, 2-1000, 3-1000 until you cross the same road sign.

  • a. And this rule is true whether going 20 mph in a school zone or 80 mph on a freeway.
  • b. It is what I call the “child running in front of a car,” prevention. That is, if a child suddenly ran in front of the car ahead of you, that person would have to slam on the brakes. If you are trailing by 3-seconds you will have time to avoid a rear-ender.

3. When making a right turn against a red, don’t cruise through the crosswalk as you look left for vehicles. If not stopping, which is the law, at least slow down more than what you are used to doing, and not only look left, but look right as well! A skateboarder, jogger or bicycler can be out of your peripheral vision and be on top of you while you are making the turn.

4. Speeding is dangerous because the other drivers in your vicinity may not be aware or may not take into consideration how fast you are closing on them, and could change lanes right in front of you.

5. Be aware of the vehicle behind you. If it is following too closely, which most drivers do, then allow extra room in front in case you have to make a quick stop. Or change lanes. Or begin slowing down ever so gently, 1 mph, 2 mph. I call this tactic ‘you’re pushing on me, so I am going to push back’; and 80% of the time the tailgater will eventually lose patience and change lanes.

  • a. If you have to stop quickly or if traffic is stopping ahead of you, try not to hit your brakes hard, and  wave an open hand at the driver behind you, indicating that you are stopping

6. Always signal. When changing lanes or making any turn, signal. It goes beyond courtesy, it is also safer for you, because the drivers around you will be on alert.

  • a. The one exception is at an intersection where the opposing driver is waiting to make a left turn, and you are approaching and wanting to make a right turn. If the opposing driver sees you are making a right turn, they often will try to make the turn ahead of you or right in front of you. The law is the right-turner has the right of way, but many don’t know the law. Thus, I will signal for a right turn as a matter of courtesy, but I wait until the very last moment so that I will be assured of making my turn before the opposing driver can.

7. Use hand signals. Now, you rarely see anyone reaching out the window anymore to make a signal, but when you wish to change lanes to the left in heavy, bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic, roll your window down and give a hearty signal instead of only using your electric  signals. Drivers will usually let you in. It is the idea of ‘May I come in,’ instead of  ‘I’m coming in.’

  • a. Another hand signal I like to use is when you have a “standoff” at a 4-way stop sign intersection, when both cars arrive at about the same time. If the opposing driver wants to make a left turn in front of me, and he/she was there first, I will signal them to make the turn by pointing at them and showing them the direction they wish to go. Or if someone is waiting to get into a crowded lane, I will again point at them and indicate the path they desire to move.
  • b. If you want to avoid the awkward “standoff,” slow down as you approach a 4-way stop sign, and allow the other driver to reach the intersection first. They will then know to go ahead, and you will avoid the mutual “stare-down.”

8. Relax—Not only is this good for safety purposes but it is also good for your health.

  • a. Allow extra time to get to your destination in case there is a traffic flare-up. If you arrive early, keep a book in the car so you will have something to do if you have to wait.
  • b. Don’t just listen to the radio, which believe it or not, can be energy-sucking. “Listen” to the silence once in a while, drift through your mind, think of favorite songs and even sing out loud.
  • c. Speeding won’t get you there much faster than the next guy. If you are doing 80 mph instead of 70 mph you will arrive 10 minutes faster in a one-hour drive. That is not much of a time savings, and that is under optimum conditions. Also, speeders have to worry about the traffic police, and ticket costs are now exorbitant.
  • d. Choose your driving times wisely, if you have a chose. Driving freeways between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. are your best bet. And Sunday morning up to about 11:00 a.m. will usually be clear sailing

9. Stay out of the “fast” lane, the No. 1 lane, unless passing another vehicle, or going at the same rate of speed as others in that lane. That “No. 1” is reserved for speeders, legal or not, and if you impede their travel you will have an enemy on your hands, and on the road you don’t need enemies.

  • a. Speaking of enemies, avoid angry eye contact with drivers. In Europe they won’t look at you, even if you just nastily cut them off. So be “European” when driving, because the only “relationship” you can create is one of anger. And there are a lot of people currently in jail because of such anger.