Here are my New Year’s resolutions for safe driving, which I invite you to make your own.
Check the tires for proper inflation. Make sure there is enough windshield wiper fluid for winter weather.
I resolve to make sure to carry an emergency kit with a jumper cable, flares or flashlight, replace the adhesive bandages from last summer’s skinned knee.
Speeding-related accidents kill approximately 13,500 Americans each year, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Many of those victims are pedestrians. So –
I resolve to leave for wherever I am going five minutes early instead of five minutes late, so I won’t have to drive beyond the speed limit, tailgate or weave across lanes to pass other vehicles en route.
If I am walking, those few extra minutes will let me avoid the life-threatening hazards of jay-walking across a busy city street or suburban shopping mall parking lot.
Don’t drive tired
A whopping 90% of accidents are due to driver error, including errors caused by drowsiness, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Tired drivers kill at least 1,500 drivers, passengers and pedestrians, and injure 70,000 more people every year.
So, if I am tired, I resolve to pull over, get out and stretch – especially legs, shoulders and neck — and find a caffeinated beverage and something to eat to refuel my energy level.
If you ever see a woman doing jumping jacks in the parking lot of an interstate highway rest stop, that’s probably me, taking a break on a long drive, so be sure to wave – or join me.
And, I resolve to wait at least 15 minutes before getting back behind the wheel since it takes that long for the caffeine fix to kick in.
Watch the car ahead of the one in front of me
That will give me a few more milliseconds to react to a brake light or a swerve that indicates some obstacle or other danger ahead.
I resolve to use my directional signals every time I intend to change lanes, and check the rearview and both side view mirrors before I pull out, and not depend on such high-tech safety systems in my vehicle such as lane departure and blind spot monitors.
I resolve to watch out for drivers who seem to be driving erratically or aggressively, by tailgating, wobbling within a lane or drifting into another, or swooshing across lanes to pass those within the speed limit, especially on holiday weekends like New Year’s Eve.
I will get out of your way without worrying whether your bad driving is because of tiredness or having consumed beverages containing something other than caffeine, or because of sheer stupidity, which includes dialing a cell phone or texting while driving.
No texting or dialing while driving
A study by the Insurance Information Institute indicates motorists using a handheld phone to dial or text are four times as likely to get into an accident. Four times! Maybe that’s why a growing number of states have made it against the law, including New York and California.
President Obama signed an order in October 2009 prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving US government vehicles. But that hasn’t stopped the rest of us.
A recent survey indicated 90% of us think driving while texting is OMG stupid, not LOL. Don’t be stupid.
No drinking and driving
Of course, I resolve not to drink and drive, or be a passenger in a vehicle whose driver is under the influence, since even a single drink can impair actions and reactions. Must be that’s why DWI and DUI is a crime or offense in every US state, and in most countries of the world.
Oh, yes, finally —
I resolve to be sure to have the keys or fob in my hand before close the car door behind me.
Happy — and safe — driving in 2024.
Photos courtesy Carfax, carcrashes.com and Car and Driver
This article was first posted on ecoxplorer in 2009 and is updated and re-published annually, updated for 2024.
ecoXplorer Evelyn Kanter is a journalist with 20+ years of experience as a newspaper and magazine writer, radio & TV news producer & reporter, and guidebook and smartphone app author – all focusing on travel, automotive, the environment and your rights as a consumer.
I’m a longtime automotive safety journalist, and currently serve as President of the International Motor Press Assn. (IMPA)
Contact me at email@example.com