Every new year, countless people commit to the age-old tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe yours included hitting the gym more, spending less time on social media, or finally paying off your credit card.

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Every new year, countless people commit to the age-old tradition of making New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe yours included hitting the gym more, spending less time on social media, or finally paying off your credit card. Whatever your resolutions entail, though, the main theme usually involves betting on ourselves in one way or another. 

One idea for a New Year’s Resolution that you can implement — and follow through on — is to commit to becoming a safer driver. When you drive carefully, you’re not only protecting yourself and your passengers but other people out on the road.

New Year, New Safe Driver

As we start to reenter the world and return to "normal," why not commit to making this year the year of the safe driver? Here are five things you can do to make that happen:

  • Drive the speed limit.

Speed limits are there for a reason. They indicate a safe speed to drive your car. On slick roads, however, you should always drive slower. Driving too fast in all conditions increases your risk of losing control of your car, reduces the effectiveness of your car's safety mechanisms, requires more stopping distance, and endangers you and others on the road. For the last 20+ years, one-third of all crash-related deaths were a result of speeding. Slow down, adhere to the speed limit, and monitor road conditions closely to ensure you're being as safe as possible on the road.

  • Always buckle up.

Any time you’re in a car, fasten your seatbelt. Every time you set out to drive anywhere, this should be the first thing you do. Since their introduction in the 1970s, seatbelts have saved an estimated 374,276 lives. Thankfully, this is one safety tip that seems to be catching on. In 2019, 91% of national drivers used their seatbelts!

  • Never drink and drive.

Between 2010–2019, over 10,000 people died each year from drunk driving accidents. Never get behind the wheel if you’ve had anything to drink. Your reaction times are slower, your vision and thinking skills are impaired, and if you get pulled over, you can face serious jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. It’s just not worth it. If you know you're going to drink, leave your car at home and opt for rideshare or a taxi instead.

  • Put down your cell phone.

Distracted driving results in roughly 400 car crash-related deaths per year. Did you know that when you text while driving, your impairment level is the equivalent of having drunk four beers in one hour? Texting and driving results in physical, cognitive, and visual distractions, and the results can be deadly. If you need to make a call or answer a text, pull off of the road before doing so. This is the year to leave your phone on "do not disturb" while driving so you can be at your safest!

  • Maintain your vehicle and tires.

Keeping up on your car’s maintenance is another great way to be a safer driver. If your car is well maintained, it’s less likely to break down on the road, which can lead to an accident.

Drive Defensively

Driving defensively means that you’re driving and operating your vehicle in a way that uses safe driving strategies. It allows you to predict hazards and prepare for them, so you become proactive and not reactive. Being a defensive driver is another way to be a safer driver. 

Here are our top defensive driving tips:

  • Always be prepared. Keep both hands on the wheel, sit up straight, and keep your eyes on the road.
  • Stay focused. It’s easy to zone out when driving, so keep your mind alert and focused on the road and your surroundings.
  • Keep a safe distance. Ensure that you leave space between you and the car in front of you, and don’t follow too closely. As a general rule, you'll want to try to maintain about three vehicle lengths between you and the car ahead.
  • Don’t drive in the blind spot. Stay out of other cars' blind spots as much as possible; if they can’t see you, they might hit you.
  • Use your signals. Always use your turn signals, and signal early. Doing so allows other drivers to prepare for you to change lanes or make a turn.
  • Avoid road rage. Be patient with other drivers and yourself. If you find yourself near someone who’s engaging in road rage, try to get distance from them.

Becoming a safer driver is one of the best things you can do for yourself and others. By driving at a safe speed for your car, utilizing our safe driver and defensive driving tips, and driving carefully, you’ll be protecting yourself and others when you head out onto the open road. 

The team at Jeff Martin & Associates wishes you a happy, healthy, and safe driving year ahead.

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