10 Driving Habits You Need to Adopt

Whether you’re a new driver or have years of experience, these tips help you put safety first.

1. Ditch distractions while driving


Toying with cell phones is a common culprit that keeps drivers’ eyes off the road, but it’s not the only offender. Applying makeup, searching for a dropped item or fiddling with the radio can steal your attention, too. Turn your phone off while driving and wait until you’re at your destination to touch up your look or retrieve fallen items.

2. Don’t speed, even when running late

You’re not on time to an important meeting, you’re late to your doctor’s appointment or your kid is going to miss the school field trip—but no matter the reason, don’t be tempted to drive recklessly to improve your arrival time. In 2016, speeding caused 27 percent of fatal accidents.

3. Avoid gas-guzzling mistakes

You can save money on fuel just by adjusting your driving style. Simple changes such as watching your speed, turning off your engine when the car is idle and using the correct fuel for your car can lead to long term savings. Also, tools like the fuel cost calculator help you estimate your gas cost from Point A to Point B.

4. Don’t drive under the influence


Alcohol impairs your vision and leads to loss of judgment and slowed reaction times—all of which diminish your driving ability. More than 1 million people were arrested for driving under the influence in 2015 alone. Driving under the influence can cause your insurance to be revoked, or you can get hit with significantly higher rates. If you plan on drinking, make sure you have a designated driver or call a cab or ride-sharing service.

5. Keep pets safe

Many drivers enjoy pets as traveling companions and bring them on road trips and errands. However, unrestrained dogs can lead to added distractions for the driver and added dangers for all passengers, as well as your furry friends. According to a survey sponsored by AAA and Kurgo Pet Products, 29 percent of respondents admit to being distracted by their dog while driving, and 65 percent have participated in at least one distracting behavior while driving with their dog, such as petting, playing and feeding them. Consider using a pet restraint system to limit your pet’s ability to distract you.

6. Rest up before driving long distances

Driving while drowsy can be just as dangerous as driving under the influence. Drowsiness slows your reaction time, impairs your judgment and decreases awareness. A report by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that in a 24-hour period, drivers who miss one to two hours of the recommended seven hours of sleep nearly double their risk for a crash. Drivers who sleep slightly less—between four and five hours—have the same risk of crashing as those who are over the legal blood-alcohol limit.

7. Enter a parking space by backing up when possible


You may think parking lots aren’t complicated to navigate, but they are the sites for 14 percent of accidents. A busy shopping area can be a danger zone for pedestrians and small children. Backing into a space is actually safer.

8. Keep up with vehicle maintenance

Every car requires a maintenance schedule. And keep this in mind: The best time to find a trusted mechanic is before you need one. Know that you can get trusted help at a nearby AAA Approved Auto Repair facility.

9. Keep your car clean

A clean car makes it more enjoyable, helps you maintain a higher resale value, preserves paint and helps prevent rust. Need a little help? Here are 10 easy ways to get your car sparkling clean.

10. Buckle up every time

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belts save nearly 14,000 lives every year. Seat belts keep you from being thrown from a car and from colliding with parts of the car and other people in it. Seat belts can also keep you far enough from an air bag so that if it deploys it will cushion you—not injure you.

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