By: Andrea Moyer
If you’ve read some of my previous blogs, you’ll know that I was a school bus driver. I transported teens and children every day, so it’s safe to say that they caught on to most of my driving habits, even if they didn’t always realize it. I’m sure that they also picked up a tip or two from their own parents/guardians about how to drive (or not drive!) a vehicle.
What’s so hard about driving? It looks easy enough!
You might think that driving is not really all that difficult and to be honest, you’d be correct. It’s not. That is to say, the mechanics of driving, such as accelerating, reversing, turning, and parking a vehicle are pretty simple. In fact, they’re almost dangerously simple and that tends to give the misleading impression that driving is so easy a five-year-old could do it. There’s much more to driving than just driving. There’s a right way and a wrong way to drive. Good driving involves thinking, navigating, scrutinizing, calculating and ought to be crowned with plain, good, old-fashioned common sense. There are so many more components that are paramount to good driving, but these are just a few that I can remember. It’s often so easy to zone out while driving on a straight, dry roadway in broad daylight with no traffic that you might be tempted to believe this is actually a requirement of drivers the world over. It’s far more difficult to know when you’re too tired to drive or to resist the temptation to answer a text while you’re driving. You have to be on your best game at all times, ready and willing to make a split-second decision should the need arise. Herein lies the difficulty of driving.
The following scenario illustrates what I’m talking about:
Imagine you’re careering along on an expressway, close to an entrance ramp but in the left hand lane. As you pass an entrance ramp, you see another vehicle approaching down the ramp, trying to merge onto the expressway. At about the same time, you notice that not too far ahead of you an animal is standing perfectly still, right smack in the middle of the left lane where you’re busy driving. What do you do? You have several options open to you: you can veer over into the right hand lane and risk a collision with the oncoming vehicle. You can apply immediate and vehement pressure to your brakes and attempt to stop your vehicle before it hits the animal. This will most certainly result in you being rear-ended. Lastly, you can continue at your current pace and collide with the animal. This is really your only safe option. You have three different choices with three different consequences, but there’s not much time in which to choose one of them. Your decision and your reflexes must be lightning-fast because your life and the lives of others depends upon it.
You – yes, you – can prevent accidents!
One of the worst accidents involving distracted driving that I can recall happened not too long ago and resulted in a pedestrian death. Without going into the details of the case, let me just say that it would not have happened had the driver not been using a cell phone at the time. Whether it’s texting or talking, if you’re on your cell phone at all while driving you’re exposing yourself and others to the same danger: distracted driving. Put the cell phone where it belongs: on silent and in the glove compartment.
Best Driving Tips
- Put the phone away! This is common sense, but it bears repeating over and over again: put down your phone. Silence and store it away in the glove compartment or someplace you won’t be tempted to reach for it. I’m not in favor of traveling without a cell phone altogether as it absolutely has its place, but you don’t need to answer that text from your friend while you’re driving.
- Buckle up - always. I don’t think I need to elaborate on the wisdom of this.
- Keep the noise down You engage more senses and faculties than you realize when you drive and you just don’t need the extra distractions. Keep the cell phone and radio off and ask any passengers to keep the noise level down while you’re driving.
- Know your limits If you find yourself zoning, staring or unable to keep your eyes open, you’re probably too tired to be operating a motor vehicle. Pull over to a safe spot and catch a few zzzz’s before continuing on your journey. Call for someone to pick you up and collect your car later. Do not push yourself to keep driving!
- Resist peer pressure Don’t be the world’s chauffeur! As soon as you get your driver’s license it will seem like everyone suddenly comes out of the woodwork to get a lift somewhere. Unless you’re doing this for Uber or Lyft and they’re paying you regularly, be firm on the amount of passengers you take in your car.
- Give yourself time There’s nowhere in the world you need to be that requires you to put yourself and others in danger with speeding and frantic driving. Give yourself enough time to allow for traffic and weather conditions, especially if the destination is new to you.
- Be on your best game! Remember my scenario involving the animal? That’s the best example I can think of for quick thinking. While you may never encounter a stubborn animal in your path on the freeway, you will encounter similar situations that require you to think and act quickly and responsibly.
- Beware of black ice! This is worth mentioning because it is so, so deceptive and can occur even in warmer weather. Basically, if the roads are wet from recent rains and it’s been a while since the last rain, they tend to be slicker than they normally would be because of all the oil and residue that collects but that hasn’t been washed away. So please be careful! If the roads are wet, they’re slick and therefore dangerous.
You know more than you think you do
We all have a gut instinct and with the exception of a ticket purchase to an out-of-state basketball game, I can’t think of too many occasions on which mine has served me poorly. This is especially true while driving. I’m not recommending that you take risks which are foolhardy, but I am suggesting that you utilize your gut instincts when you can. Err on the side of caution. Resist the temptation to blow through a traffic light if it’s been green for a while. If you’re unsure of whether you can make the right hand turn on a red light, wait until it’s green. Watch the behavior of other drivers and you’ll understand how gut instinct comes into play very quickly. Your instincts are viable and you’ll begin to trust them more readily as you become more practiced at driving.
Make sure you’re covered!
Last, but certainly not least, be sure that you carry adequate coverage that aligns with your unique needs. As a new driver you’re probably going to have a good amount of questions and concerns. Your agent will be happy to go over them with you. Contact our agents today at our Perkasie 215-257-9171 or Harleysville 215-723-9805 locations and talk to them about an auto insurance policy today. Drive wisely and arrive safely!
Also Read: Get Ready to Hit the Road