Accidents are the result of human behaviors. The unsafe behaviors of drivers cause accidents.
From amateurs to the most professional driver, if done properly, these 10 safe driving tips can help mitigate the risk of unsafe driving behaviors and reduce the frequency of accidents.
Top 10 Safe Driving Tips
- Four Rules of Intersections
- How to Safely Negotiate an Intersection
- Speed Limits During Turns
- Proper Use of Reference Points During Turns
- Eliminating Blind Spots During Turns (“Rock and Roll” in the driver’s seat)
- 300:29:1 – The Unsafe Acts Pyramid
- LLLC™ – Fundamentals of Defensive Driving
- Proper Mirror Adjustment
- Safety Zones and Space Management
- Pre-Trip Inspections
1) Four Rules of Intersections:
Intersections are one of the most hazardous environments for safe driving. There are four rules to live by to successfully and safely negotiate intersections. These rules are:
- Expect trouble at intersections. Never assume pedestrians and other traffic will see you or obey the rules of the road.
- Slow down and cover your brake when approaching intersections. Be prepared to stop even if you have the right of way. A “green light” gives you your turn, but it does not mean it is safe to cross!
- Keep your head and eyes moving – Scan for trouble and potential hazards ahead and around you. Be especially aware of pedestrians!
- Yield the right of way to other vehicles and pedestrians after you stop and prior to entering the intersection.
2) How to Safely Negotiate an Intersection:
The intersection is by far the most hazardous place in which we drive. Before proceeding through an intersection, it is your obligation to clear it and ensure it is safe to cross or move through it. Always approach intersections expecting other traffic and pedestrians to not stop when they should. Look left, right, and left again before moving into the intersection. Be especially weary of pedestrians…actively look for them when turning. Always make sure the intersection has cleared before proceeding through it (count to 3 before starting from a stopped position) and always yield the right of way to others.
3) Speed Limits During Turns:
Fast turns at intersections are one of the major contributors to collisions and pedestrian accidents. You should always slow to 5 MPH when making turns. This will improve your reaction time and stopping distance, allowing you an increased margin of safety to avoid a mishap. Remember: no more than 5 MPH when turning.
4) Proper Use of Reference Points During Turns:
Reference points are the areas on the vehicle which will help you keep the vehicle centered in the roadway or enable you to position the vehicle 4-6 inches from the curb line, make proper right and left turns, and back up the vehicle without hitting anything with the rear of the vehicle. Always keep your reference points in your sight when driving and turning and you will be able to safely perform your driving tasks.
5) Eliminating Blind Spots During Turns (Rock and Roll):
All vehicles, and especially large ones, have inherent blind spots to the front and the side, but they can be successfully eliminated by “Rocking and Rolling” in your seat. Eliminating blind spots is one of the most important tasks of a professional driver. The Driver, prior to turning the vehicle, must physically “rock and roll” forward and back in the driver’s seat to see around the windshield post, mirror heads and other obstructions to the front or the side of the vehicle. Failure to “rock and roll” to see around obstructions will not allow the driver to see all that is around and approaching into the path of the vehicle. Pedestrians and other vehicles may, as you are moving, hide in these blind spots and collide with your vehicle. As a professional driver, it is your responsibility to eliminate blind spots and avoid collisions with others.
6) 300:29:1 – The Unsafe Acts Pyramid:
What does this mean? For every 300 unsafe acts, 29 Minor Accidents occur and 1 Catastrophic Accident result. The theory of 300:29:1 is tied to the definition of Safety: Safety is Freedom From Risk. Risk can be reduced through the elimination of unsafe acts. There is a direct link between the frequency of unsafe acts and the occurrence of catastrophic events. As a professional, it is your responsibility to eliminate unsafe acts from your everyday activities and work routines.
7) LLLC – The Four Driving Principles to Safety™:
The Four Driving Principles To Safety are proven defensive driving principles of interlocking techniques designed to minimize risk while driving and maximize accident prevention. These techniques help drivers see, think, and act their way through the multitude of driving environments, challenges and ever-changing hazards that exist and develop around them as they drive.
The key to successful defensive driving is to actively practice the four principles that allow professional drivers to successfully “read” the driving environment around them and avoid collisions.
The Four Principles:
- Look Ahead™: Keep your eyes focused on where your vehicle will be in the next 15 seconds. You should always look far ahead of where you are and have proper eye lead-time to see hazards before you cannot avoid them.
- Look Around™: It is the area in front and around the vehicle a driver should see. In the city, the driver should scan sidewalk to sidewalk and a full city block ahead. On an open highway, a driver should see from the end of the left lane to the end of the right lane and at least a half-mile ahead. Frequent head and eye movement is the key to obtaining and keeping the big picture. Drivers should avoid the fixed stare and should check/scan their mirrors every 5 to 8 seconds. A fixed stare causes drivers to lose sight of the big picture and the awareness of what is happening to the front and around their vehicles, increasing the chance of being involved in an accident.
- Leave Room™: Always drive with an “escape route” available, should a sudden hazard develop in front of you or near you. The simplest way to do this is to drive with plenty of space in front of you (the more space to the front you have, the better you can react and, if necessary, stop). Do not allow yourself to be “boxed in” without an escape from a sudden hazard. It can be the difference between a collision and a safe trip.
- Communicate™: The driver must communicate with other motorists and pedestrians. Do not assume they see you. Conflicts caused by inattention and distractions are common and can lead to collisions. It is up to you to make your presence known to others. Establish eye contact; use your horn if necessary.
8) Proper Mirror Adjustment:
You cannot avoid what you cannot see. This begs the question “What SHOULD you see”? Proper mirror adjustment is critical to safe driving performance, both in the city and on the highway.
When your mirrors are adjusted properly, you will:
- See pedestrians and cyclists around and near the vehicle.
- See vehicles and objects around and near the vehicle.
- Eliminate/minimize blind spots around the vehicle.
Proper mirror settings:
- The left side flat mirror should be adjusted so you can check traffic and clearances on the left side of the vehicle. You should see the left side of the vehicle along the inside edge of the mirror surface and the horizon line should be approximately ¼ from the top of the mirror.
- The right side flat mirror should be adjusted so you can check traffic and clearances on the right side of the vehicle. You should see the right side of the vehicle along the inside edge of the mirror surface and the horizon line should be approximately ¼ from the top of the mirror.
9) Safety Zones and Space Management:
Proper “space management” to the front and sides of your vehicle is another fundamental defensive driving skill.
Key safe driving aspects you must know and practice:
- Perception Factor: This is the time it takes to understand what you are seeing around you. This translates to “distance traveled” as you are moving.
- Reaction Time: This is the time it takes to move your foot from the accelerator to the brake and activate the brake once you determine the need to act. Combined with the perception time, the “Perception-Reaction” time for an alert person is, on average, 1.5 seconds.
- Stopping Distance: This is the time and space needed to come to a complete stop. This stopping distance varies according to the speed at which a vehicle is traveling (the faster the speed, the longer the stopping distance). This distance increases greatly in adverse weather (wet, slick roads). To compensate, the safe driver increases his/her following distance and decreases the travel speed.
- Following Distance: Proper following distance, the distance a driver maintains to the front of the vehicle from the vehicle ahead, is 4 seconds. You must ensure you have enough space to your front to stop smoothly and safely or maneuver gradually to avoid a hazard or a collision (i.e.: a car suddenly stopping in front of you). Always add 1 or more seconds in adverse weather or slippery surfaces. To calculate the proper following distance, pick a fixed object on the side of the road (mailbox, post, tree, etc.) and start counting seconds (1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, etc.) when the vehicle ahead of you passes that point. If your vehicle passes that same point before you reach 4 seconds, you are following too close.Slow down and increase your following distance. This is the single most effective tool you have to avoid collisions.
- Space Cushion: A proper “space cushion” around your vehicle is essential for you to be able to react to hazards and sudden traffic conditions (swerving vehicles, cars encroaching in your lane/ path, etc.). A proper space cushion gives you the time and space necessary for you to take defensive actions, react safely and avoid collisions.
10) Pre-trip Inspections:
A proper pre-trip inspection of your vehicle is critical to your safety. As a safe driver, you need to be able to proactively identify anything wrong with your vehicle prior to driving, so that can avoid a roadside breakdown or, worse, a crash due to a mechanical defect that could have been repaired prior to leaving.
A proper pre-trip inspection should take no longer than 12-15 minutes and covers the following areas:
- Driver compartment and controls
These safe driving tips will help you reduce the unsafe human behaviors that cause accidents. Safe driving out there!