Simple things you can do to drive more safely

Consumer Reports News: June 21, 2011 04:03 PM


With the official start of summer and the school year ending this week in many areas, millions of Americans will be hitting the road for a much needed vacation. But before you head out on that road trip, check out our list of important things you can do to drive safely throughout the year.

In 2010, over 33,000 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents and many of them were preventable. Just by doing the few simple things listed below, you can reduce your risks considerably.

  1. Buckle up. The use of seat belts saved the lives of 13,000 people in 2008. In a crash, it is your best defense to help keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. If you don't buckle up, you could be thrown out of the car, which is almost always a deadly scenario.
  2. Secure your kids. Car crashes are the leading cause of death for kids between 3 and 12 years old. By placing all children 12 and under in the back seat, you can reduce injury risk by 64 percent for children under 8 and 31 percent for 9-12 year olds. Also, make sure your children are in the proper seat for their age and it's installed correctly.
  3. Don't speed. Speeding is a factor in about one-third of all fatal crashes, killing nearly 900 Americans every month. Although it affects all ages, crashes and violations are much higher for young, male drivers. Obeying the speed limit will also help to conserve fuel.
  4. Keep your eyes on the road. In 2009, over 5,400 people were killed due to distracted driving and 448,000 were injured. The best advice is to put the phone away and focus on the road. No call or text is worth losing your life or killing someone else.
  5. Preventive maintenance. By checking your tire pressure and tread wear, fluids, and batteries regularly you can help spot a potential problem before it becomes a dangerous accident on the road. Also, keep up with the vehicle maintenance schedule noted in the owner's manual to stay on top of problems before they happen.
  6. Don't drink and drive. In 2009, there were 10,839 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities, and while that number has declined from 2008, there are still many lives that can be saved if everyone remembers to assign a designated driver if you've been drinking or hand over the keys until you're sober.
  7. Look around. Every car has a blind zone and some are larger than others. Around 50 children are backed over every week, so if you don't have a rearview camera, make sure you're diligent about checking mirrors and looking over your shoulder before backing up. If you still cannot see well, get out and walk around to make sure nothing is in your way.
  8. Use your signals. By alerting other drivers of your intentions to turn, you can help prepare other motorists and bicyclists around you.


Do you have other safe-driving tips? Share them in the comments below.

Guide to distracted driving and teen safety
Guide to kids and car safety
Guide to car maintenance
Guide to summer road travel


Liza Barth

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Safety News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more