Tips for safer and secure driving

Krista Olson-Lehman, Staff Writer

When you think of safe drivers, do you tell yourself “I’m a safe driver,” or “I have nothing to worry about except everyone else on the road.” Are you really? Do you avoid left turns? What kind of following distance do you keep? How well do you maintain your car?

According to CNN, plotting your course to avoid left hand turns the way a UPS driver does can not only significantly lower your chances of a collision, it also helps reduce carbon emissions. Research shows 61 percent of collisions happen during a left hand turn maneuver as opposed to 3.1 percent involving right turns. Left hand turns are also three times more likely to kill a pedestrian than right hand turns. And UPS estimates it saves 10 million gallons of fuel each year with this defensive driving skill.

Why would you spend time plotting a course without left turns?

“The path of least resistance would be the idea that you’re wanting to get to without spending more time that what’s necessary,” Benjamin Brehm said of avoiding left turns, “That would be the ideal.”

Brehm, a Madison College student, spent two years working part-time and nearly six years working full-time as a UPS delivery driver.

Even looking to use routes that have roundabouts as opposed to controlled intersections can save time and improve safety.

There’s more to safe and defensive driving though.

Maintaining your car and making sure your brakes work properly and your tires still grip is also important. have seven tips for optimizing the safety of your vehicle:

  • Keep your tires in shape. Check air pressure, tread, and examine the tire for bulges or leaks.
  • Check fluid levels, especially the engine oil, coolant, and transmission fluid.
  • Test the lights and make sure signals and brake lights function as well as low and high beams.
  • Do a general check on the vehicle, clear debris from radiator or intakes, look for signs of wear on belts and hoses.
  • Make sure to get regular check-ups. Many repair shops have specials to give your car a once over and top off fluids as well as do inspections with your regular oil changes. This can be the difference between a small repair charge or a major catastrophe.

When it comes to tires, where you live can make a great deal of difference. Those who live in the northern states can attest to how much weather can affect a daily commute. Popular Mechanics highly recommends snow tires, especially for anyone north of the Mason-Dixon line. They improve traction and stability while driving, whereas all season tires are meant to perform in multiple types of driving situations. The snow tire is an expert in slippery conditions compared to the jack-of-all-trades all season tire.

All season tires tend to wear after a few seasons, where snow tires will continue to hold traction.

And when the snow flies or the rain comes down, defensive driving skills can come in handy to avoid a collision. Safe following distances can make all the difference between a slide or a collision.

“You can always control what space is in front of you,” Brehm said. A safe following distance allows more time for good decision making and watching for potential trouble spots.

With dangers like black ice on the road, the sooner you can see it, the sooner you can react. If you have plenty of space between your car and the car in front of you, you’ll have more time to respond to sudden changes in road condition or other cars losing control and going into a skid.

Taking these tips into account can be the difference between simply hoping you don’t get into an accident versus taking steps to make sure you reduce your risks.