Through no fault of his own, Danny was in a serious car accident recently totaling the Expedition. Fortunately no one was injured beyond a few bumps and bruises but this incident inspired me to remind you of the importance of being a safe driver. I think Danny will attest to the importance of tip #6 and tip #8 below!
1. Don’t drink and drive. I know this is common sense, but it’s easy to think you’re capable of driving after just a few drinks. In fact, if you think you’re capable after drinking, that may be a sign you’ve had too much. Plan ahead for a designated driver or call for a ride. Even if you’re lucky enough not to cause an accident, the risk of getting caught and the consequences that follow are not worth the risk.
2. Be well rested before getting behind the wheel. I always enjoyed driving through the night – less traffic, less wasted time; but make sure you are not tired if you drive late at night. Don’t hesitate to stop, get out of the car, do jumping jacks, eat at the Waffle House, or better yet, look for a place to stay and get some sleep if you’re getting sleepy while driving.
3. Watch you speed. The slogan “speed kills” applies to driving as well as drugs. You are permitted to go slower than the posted speed limit especially when traffic or weather conditions don’t warrant the higher speeds. Don’t let other drivers push you to drive faster than conditions permit. Slow down and be safe.
4. No texting while driving. This wasn’t even something you could’ve have learned in driver’s ed when you were learning to drive since texting wasn’t an option at that time, but believe it or not, texting while driving is more dangerous than drinking and driving. Distracted driving is not safe driving.
5. Keep your car safe. Besides having enough gas in the tank, check oil, coolant, tires, and other systems regularly. Also, pay attention to the signals the car provides concerning problems – NEVER continue driving when the light indicating overheating comes on! Doing so will insure you get to purchase a new car sooner than expected. Ouch! And, it’s just not safe.
6. Watch out for the other guy! This may be the most important tip of all. I’ve heard it said you should assume every other driver on the road is an idiot. That’s pretty good advice, and that’s why I look both ways when the light turns green. I check that all the idiots really are going to stop. Try to plan ahead for the stupid things other drivers do. (John Graham, a family friend, always said to make sure you can see the back tires of the car in front of you when at a stoplight to insure you will have room to go around in case of a problem. He found himself behind a car involved in a gunfight in Miami one day and this practice enabled him to get out of a dangerous situation…although usually it’s just a way around a disabled vehicle.)
7. Don’t’ let road rage get the best of you. This can be a tough one. Assuming all other drivers are idiots, it’s hard not to react to their stupidity. When others tailgate, cut you off, drive for miles with turn signals on, or do other irritating things; take a deep breath and resist the urge to shout at them, make obscene gestures, or retaliate with an equally stupid move behind the wheel. Remember your mom wants you to get to your destination safely.
8. Wear your seatbelt. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect yourself from injury in case of an accident. I remember our first car with seatbelts. It was purchased in 1964 after an accident in a VW Karmann Ghia. We loved playing with them, but we also used them! Seatbelt use is essential for a safe trip – even around the block.
Drive safely, and remember, as Grandma always says, “You can’t be too careful!”