Simple solutions for changing dangerous behaviors.
Drivers with bad habits aren't just annoying. They're a danger on the road and cause many car accidents in Laredo and throughout Texas every year. These accidents leave people with serious injuries and mounting medical expenses.
Unfortunately, bad driving habits are fairly common. More than half of survey respondents in the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's annual Traffic Safety Culture Index said they had engaged in risky driving behavior.
What can be done about bad driving habits? One of the most effective solutions is to prevent them from starting in the first place.
"One of the best ways to instill good driving habits is to explain why a regulation is important, and what can happen if you don't follow it," said Gary Driscoll, an AAA driving instructor and former police officer. "I stress situational awareness when driving."
But drivers who have developed bad habits can change them. AAA has some simple suggestions for fixing these bad habits.
1. Put down the phone.
Distracted driving is one of the most common bad habits. Smartphones are one of the biggest reasons for distraction. Many drivers are texting, talking, emailing, using apps, and even shooting videos out on the road. Using a phone while behind the wheel is dangerous.
"It takes a driver's eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off driving more than any other potentially distracting activity," said Barbara Ward, a traffic safety specialist with AAA Northeast.
This habit can be fixed with two simple steps. Before driving, put the phone on "Do Not Disturb." Then put the phone where you can't reach it.
2. Don't drive after drinking or using drugs.
Driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or other drugs is illegal. But every year, people get behind the wheel after having a few drinks, smoking marijuana, consuming edibles, or taking medication.
There are a few ways to break this habit. Have someone sober drive. Call a cab. Or use a ridesharing service such as Uber or Lyft. All it takes is some planning ahead of time.
3. Don't drive when you're too tired.
In some ways, drowsy driving is similar to impaired driving. Only in this case, the abilities and judgment of drivers are impaired by extreme tiredness or fatigue. Sometimes, drivers fall asleep while they are driving.
What can be done to fix this habit? If you are very tired, don't drive. Ask someone else to do the driving. If you are on a long trip by yourself, stop every two hours or 100 miles to take a break.
4. Follow the speed limit.
Posted speed limits aren't just suggestions. The limits are the speed at which it is safest to drive based on location, road type, and other considerations. When drivers go too fast, they have a reduced reaction time, are less able to control their vehicle, and need more distance to come to a complete stop.
To break this habit, slow down. "Always know the posted speed limit and use cruise control, if possible, to keep the vehicle at a safe and reasonable speed," said Ward.
5. Avoid aggression.
Aggressive driving is defined by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as "a combination of moving traffic offenses that can endanger other people or property, often sparked by road rage." These offenses include tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, and speeding up to avoid red lights.
The key to breaking this habit is staying calm. If an aggressive driver honks the horn or starts tailgating you, don't react or make eye contact. Just stay focused on sticking to the speed limit and following the rules of the road.
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