Driving is a privilege; it’s certainly not a right. While hearing this from your parents when you were sixteen may have lessened the impact and sent your eyes rolling, it’s a true statement. There is no law anywhere that says you have the right to drive. It’s not in the Bill of Rights, the Constitution or the Declaration of Independence. The convenience afforded to you by owning a car is a privilege. It’s a privilege that you can all too easily lose. Fortunately, you can safeguard and protect this privilege by following basic safety procedures.
By complying with these seven safety musts to remember while you drive, you help enhance the safety of yourself and others.
The Seven Commandments of Safe Driving
1. You Must Obey Posted Signs – Signs are posted to help guide everyone along in a safe and prudent manner. They are not suggestions and they are not there to annoy you. Speed limit signs, yield signs and stop signs all exist to provide a safe and enjoyable transportation experience. Obeying posted signs is a legal requirement to be able to drive.
2. You Must Avoid Electronic Distractions – Perhaps the biggest problem in our day and age due to recent advances in personal electronics: distractions. Cell phones, tablets and MP3 players all taunt us and compete for our attention while driving. Turn them off and store them in the glove compartment. You have no reason to use them while driving. You may think that the two seconds it takes to read a text is no big deal, but it takes less time than that for a car to cut you off. Avoid these pesky distractions; they are even illegal in several states.
3. You Must Be Rested and Sober – Driving drunk is the most irresponsible thing you can possibly do. You put the lives of everyone else on the road and yourself at risk when doing this. Do not drive if you have had any alcohol or other mind altering substance. Even prescription pills that make you drowsy should be avoided. If you happen to naturally be tired, do not drive. Do whatever you can to avoid driving while tired. Driving tired is almost as bad as driving drunk: simply avoid both. Drive only when rested and sober.
4. You Must Wear Your Seat Belt – All over the country, states are increasing their enforcement of seat belt laws. This is due to the rise in injuries and fatalities due to not wearing seat belts. It’s also a reason for them to ensure that you aren’t violating any of the other musts (laws) mentioned above. Beyond complying with the law, it’s just common sense. The three seconds that it takes to buckle your seatbelt may avoid a life-altering, or ending, incident.
5. You Must Always Be Aware – Be alert and aware of everything else going on while driving. Focus your attention on the road, on other drivers and on the weather. Other people face all of the same distractions that you do. They are all bound by the same laws that you are. This also means they can ignore and flat out break them. Be aware of someone cutting you off, stopping short in front of you or speeding past you. Also: be aware of the weather. Strong winds can make driving more difficult than usual and precipitation can modify your brakes stopping distance.
6. You Must Properly Maintain Your Vehicle – Properly maintaining your vehicle is a definite obligation for any car owner. By ensuring your car has proper fluids, tire pressure and just the right amount of gasoline, you are helping to prevent a serious accident. Make sure all your mirrors are in the correct positions, and if perhaps you’re missing a side view mirror, you can easily get the best priced side view mirrors. Underinflated and overinflated tires can both cause serious and life-threatening mishaps.
7. You Must Keep Your Hands on the Wheel – Plain and simple; tried and true; ten and two. Keep your hands solely on the wheel at all times. This is a culmination of the above musts. Don’t be fiddling with an electronic device. Don’t be waving your hand in the breeze out the window. Place your hands at the “ten” and “two” positions (if the steering wheel were a clock) and maintain proper control of your vehicle.
You Must Protect Your Driving Privileges
It is easier to lose your driving privileges than most people imagine. Violating any one of these necessities can cause you to lose your privilege of driving, your car or, worse yet, maybe your life.
This post was written and contributed by Edson Farnell. Edson writes about various automotive topics. Many of Edson’s friends refer to him as the Auto Parts Geek.