Motor vehicle accidents are one of the top causes of fatalities at work and in general. If driving is part of your job, keep the following 5 steps in mind.
1. Avoid Distractions
- Cognitive distractions cause you to miss the full picture of what’s going on around you.
- Research shows hands-free devices and dashboard systems do not reduce cognitive distraction.
- Never text, email, or engage in social media while driving.
- If you can’t avoid taking a call while driving, make sure you are in a safe place without a lot of traffic or pedestrians and keep it short. Pull over for longer or more intense conversations.
- Limit eating or drinking when driving and avoid personal groom tasks (shaving, applying makeup, etc.)
- If using a navigation system, set your destination before beginning your trip.
- If you know you’ll be listening to music or podcasts, set up your media before driving.
2. Follow all Traffic Laws
- Always wear your seatbelt and insist passengers wear theirs.
- Build schedules so you can avoid rushing and speeding to get where you’re going.
- Avoid running red lights or late yellow lights.
- Always yield to the right-of-way, especially when turning right on red or getting on the highway.
- Never tailgate.
3. Inspect Your Vehicle and Keep up with Maintenance
- Do a quick walk around of your vehicle to make sure tires look good and there are no leaking fluids.
- Maintain a clean windshield and have glass issues repaired promptly.
- Check the condition of your tires and replace them when tread depth is nearing the wear bars.
- Secure loose items so they’re not moving around in your vehicle or through the air if you have to brake hard.
4. Practice Defensive Driving
- Adjust your mirrors before driving and check them often while driving. When changing lanes, physically turn your head to check your blind spots.
- Always double check for motorcycles, bicycles, pedestrians and smaller vehicles.
- Leave at least 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you. During inclement weather or while pulling a trailer, increase this to at least 5 seconds.
- Always use signals and be sure to signal ahead of time to communicate your intensions to other drivers.
- Avoid backing up whenever possible. Try to back into parking spots or pull through.
- Be predictable: avoid multiple lane changes at once and last-minute turn signal notifications.
- If you’re followed by a tailgater, increase your following distance from the car in front of you or change lanes and let them go by.
5. Don’t Drive in an Altered State
- Do not drive if you are fatigued.
- Be aware of how medications will affect you and don’t drive if they impact your reaction times.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.