12 Driving Tips to Get You Safely from Point A to Point Z

Our friends at Esurance put together their top driving tips. 

Adrian Nier, “Steering wheel” August 1, 2009 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution.

Carpooler or lone wolf, road tripper or commuter — whatever your driving pleasure, there’s one thing that should never vary. Safety.

Unless you’re a professional base jumper — or some equally wild (yet, totally awesome) daredevil — it’s likely that driving is the most potentially dangerous thing you do each day. With that in mind, we at Esurance put together a few driver safety tips for our ridesharing friends at Zimride.

Avoid distracted driving
From cell phones to infotainment devices, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to focus solely on the road. In 2009 alone, almost 5,500 people were killed and about 448,000 were injured in distracted driving–related crashes (and that’s just in the U.S.). And studies show that hands-free devices can be just as distracting as regular cell phones while driving. It turns out that (contrary to popular opinion) the human brain simply isn’t designed to multitask. So when you’re driving, make sure that’s ALL you’re doing. (You can yell at the kids or fix your lipstick later.)

Learn about the 3 types of distracted driving.

Use a talking GPS system
Apps that dictate directions not only help you keep your eyes on the road, but they also keep you from holding up traffic and driving erratically (no more straining to see street signs in the dark). Now, that’s just smart.

Get some tips for using GPS.

Drive the speed limit
Most of us know that speeding can be dangerous, but many drivers don’t realize that driving too slowly can also cause problems. The sluggish pace of overly cautious drivers, lost souls (navigationally speaking), and looky-loos forces drivers going with the flow of traffic to slow down abruptly. Slow drivers can also set off road ragers and impatient drivers, leading to unsafe passing attempts, hard stops, and the increased potential for accidents.

See what else there is to know about slow driving.

Wear your seat belt
It practically goes without saying that seat belts dramatically reduce risk of death and serious injury. According to the CDC, among drivers and front-seat passengers, seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50 percent. So do yourself a favor. Buckle up.

There’s so much more to know about seat belts (no, really). Check it out.

Carry an emergency kit
Having emergency supplies on hand can help get you through a sticky situation (like severe weather, a minor accident, a breakdown, or a zombie attack). Water, a flashlight, and a first aid kit are just a few of the supplies we suggest keeping with you.

See what else to keep in your car emergency kit.

Don’t drive under the influence
Duh. But nonetheless we’d feel irresponsible if we left it off the list. If you’re using Zimride to go to a concert or festival, it’s especially important to make sure whoever’s driving is sober. Make a plan before anyone starts drinking so it’s clear who will be the designated driver.

Find out how breathalyzer tests measure blood alcohol content.

And if you’re a passenger, choose the middle seat
Who knew that cursed middle seat (the one we all competed with our siblings to avoid) is actually the safest? It’s true. While the back window seats are 59 to 86 percent safer than the front seats, the middle seat is 25 percent safer than the window seats. That’s because the middle seat offers the most distance from impact.

Find out the best spot for kids and car seats.

A few more safety tips for the road …
• Adjust your headrest to be behind your head (not your neck) to avoid whiplash
• Make sure your tires are properly inflated to avoid a blow out
• Keep your windshield clean (inside and out) to avoid being temporarily blinded by the sun — especially during sunrise and sunset
• When the light turns green, take a second to scan the intersection before you proceed (slowpoke pedestrians and drivers running red lights will thank you)
• Use your turn signals so other drivers can give you space to do your thing

Want to feel even safer? Esurance has a ton of articles all about driver safety. (After all, protection is the name of our game.)