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It’s resolution time: Four ways to be a better driver in 2019

It’s that time of year again, when the beginning of a new year motivates people to make resolutions and work hard to better themselves.  These resolutions often include eating healthier, working out more often, and spending less time on social media.  But one thing that is often, quite unfortunately, overlooked is the desire to practice safer driving habits.  These resolutions do not have to be complicated, and can simply focus on being a more vigilant, responsible driver when behind the wheel.  Here are a few easy resolutions to help you become a safer, better driver in 2019.

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            Always keep your focus on the road and your surroundings.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), thousands of people are killed each year via accidents caused by distracted driving.  Make a promise to yourself to put down your phone, avoid letting passengers distract you, and keep your radio at a reasonable level.  Furthermore, while popular social media challenges, like the viral “In My Feelings” challenge, inspired by the popular Drake song of the same name, may seem fun and harmless, they can pose a serious threat to you and those around you. 

            Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs also continues to be a major contributor to car accidents.  The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in all states (except for Arizona, where it can be lower), is 0.08%.  However, regardless of your blood alcohol content (BAC) it is a bad idea to operate a vehicle while under the influence.  If you plan on drinking, it is a good idea to put your car keys down and designate a driver, call an Uber, Lyft, or taxi, or ask a sober friend for a ride home.  It is also important to always be aware of others.  You might have taken all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and fun night out, but other people with whom you share the road might not have done the same.

            It is extremely important while out on the road to practice defensive driving.  But what exactly does this mean?  Aside from following posted speed limits and state laws and regulations, anticipating what other drivers around you may do next is key to ensuring your own safety.  Always remember that you are sharing the road with others and try to avoid cutting people off or tailgating.  Conversely, if you are cut off by another driver, anger should not be your first reaction.  Maintaining rationality will not only keep you and your passengers safe, it will also help uphold the safety of other drivers on the road.  Additionally, while the advancement of vehicle safety features such as blind spot sensors, lane change assist, lane departure assist and backup cameras can be useful, it is important to remember to avoid falling into the habit of relying on them too much.

            Weather conditions are another important consideration when practicing safe driving, especially with the ever-changing weather in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  Rain leads to slick roads, especially when there are lots of leaves on the ground, and increases the potential for flooding.  Snow, ice and sleet during colder months creates slippery road conditions and black ice.  It is important to clear your windows, windshield and roof off entirely.    A driver will only face a fine or penalty if a bystander is injured or killed by a projectile piece of snow or ice that comes from an uncleared vehicle.  But why take the chance?  Each time it snows this season, resolve to clean your car off entirely.

            Each new year brings a fresh start and the opportunity for improvement.  These simple tips are easy to remember and follow throughout the year, ensuring a safe and pleasant driving experience for you, your passengers, and the drivers with whom you share the road.

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Posted in Munley News.

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