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Safe Driving Means Avoiding These Dangerous Driving Habits

By Derek Goodman

2022-01-05 08:33:28

Nobody is 100 percent safe on the road. We accept a high level of risk every time we sit behind the wheel, turn the key, and hit the accelerator. That does not mean that we must accept this risk as uncontrollable, however. The decisions we make have repercussions on our health, especially when those decisions are made behind the wheel. From the use of drugs to being overtired, Kiowa County Independent outlines some behaviors you can avoid to make your time on the road less risky.

Thinking Marijuana Won’t Impair Your Driving

Avoiding controlled substances, even marijuana, is a first step to preventing yourself from becoming a “high-risk driver.” The “high risk” label is given to drivers who have too many negative items on their driving records, whether those items are too many tickets and violations, traffic accidents, or especially convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

This label not only signifies a driver is at greater risk of an accident, but auto insurance for high-risk drivers tends to come with a heftier price tag. When you’re convicted of a reckless driving offense, you could see the cost of your insurance rise more than 91 percent, and some providers may cancel your policy entirely.

Ignoring the Risks of Distracted Driving

The Zebra reports that in 2019, 8.5% of fatal motor incidents were related to distracted driving. And 42% of teenagers nationwide professed to sending texts or emails while driving. Whether you’re texting, changing the radio channel, reaching for something in the glovebox or turning to ask your kids a question, this all counts as distracted driving, and it’s dangerous.

Before you pull out of your driveway, make a point to ensure that you won’t be tempted to take your eyes off the road. Set your radio to a single channel and stick to it. Turn your phone to airplane mode or driving mode to avoid distractions, and remind your children about the need for car safety at all times. If you must talk on the phone while driving, absolutely minimize the distraction as much as possible by using a product stand or wearing an earpiece, and never answer the phone if it’s not an emergency.

Making Driving Decisions Out of Emotion or Rage

It’s pretty normal to feel stressed out by traffic. When those feelings of stress turn into anxiety or anger, however, you could be putting yourself and other drivers at unnecessary risk. Psychology Today notes that Incidents involving road rage and anger continue to increase across the country, putting people on the road more at risk for becoming the victim of accidents, assaults and even murders.

You can keep yourself from becoming a “high risk driver” by using calming techniques to quiet your anxiety on the road. Listen to relaxing music in your car and use deep breathing during those really tense traffic hours.

Hitting The Road Without Getting Enough Sleep

You know you need a good night’s sleep to perform well on a test or in a job interview. So it should only make sense that you also need proper rest to safely control a vehicle. In fact, driving while you are exhausted can be even more of a risk than driving while impaired, although you should avoid doing either. Being tired can also make the effects of even one drink of alcohol worse, which can further impair sleep-deprived drivers.

Driving after taking sedatives is similar to driving tired since these drugs relax the nervous system in a way that significantly diminishes alertness and reaction time. When drivers are behind the wheel of a 3,000-4,000 pound vehicle traveling at high rates of speed, these effects are likely to result in accidents and even deaths.

Bottom Line: Do not get behind the wheel when you have not gotten enough sleep to feel alert and make decisions. Take Uber or public transport instead. Your life, or someone else’s, may well depend on that single decision.

Not Taking Care of Your Car

To keep your vehicle in proper working order, it’s critical to maintain your car. Worn out brake pads or problematic brake systems, tires with low-tread, missed oil changes and more could easily lead to issues that can ultimately affect your driving. Keeping up with regularly scheduled maintenance is the first step, since your technician will be able to give you an idea of when you need a new oil change or when those brake pads need changing. You can also be proactive by being mindful about tire tread and following through with necessary repairs whenever they are needed.

Also in regards to safety and security, you should keep valuables safe while traveling, especially if you’re heading south outside U.S. borders to places like Puerto Vallarta or Baja California. Experts often recommend carrying a minimal amount of cash, which can lead to a tricky situation if you hit a snag. You should consider setting up an account with an affordable money transfer service so that if you get into trouble, you can get money fast. For example, Remitly guarantees a date and time for funds transfers when money is sent from the U.S. to Mexico, with more than 40,000 cash pickup locations in that country alone.

Driving is such a routine aspect of so many people’s lives that we take for granted just how dangerous this activity can be. There are enough distractions on the road without our daily habits impairing our driving abilities as well. Unfortunately, too many drivers endanger themselves and others by making risky choices before hitting the road, whether that’s using drugs or simply not getting enough sleep. Making these risky decisions could cost your life, your freedom or the life of someone else on the road.

Kiowa County Independent is your source for everything Kiowa County, from news and sports to lifestyle and community events. Contact us today for more information: (719) 438-2040.


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