The National Safety Council (NSC) is a non-profit, non-government agency that seeks to increase public awareness about safety. Though it was originally concerned with just workplace hazards, it eventually looked at one of the leading causes of deaths and injuries in the United States—vehicular accidents. Here are some of the driving rules from the National Safety Council.
Seatbelts. One of the best safety precautions anyone can take is to wear a seatbelt. The NSC recommends a “no seat belt, no driving” rule. Do not start the car engine until everyone is properly secured. Double-check the children, and buckle in even the pets. Then, lock the doors.
Speed. Speed is another factor in vehicular accidents. While most people think that accidents are only caused by driving too fast, there are cases when driving too slow can lead to collisions. Observe the recommended speed limit on road signs.
Drinking and driving. The National Safety Council is also against drinking after driving. Over 40% of car crashes are linked to alcohol abuse. Liquor affects reaction time and ability to concentrate. If you drink, hand over the keys to a designated driver or take a cab.
Distracted driving. Another cause of car accidents is the use of cell phones or other electronic gadgets while driving. Even the use of hands-free devices does not lower risk for accidents. Calling, reading or sending text messages, or even checking the iPod volume for a few seconds all take your concentration away from the road.
Road rules. It is also imperative that drivers follow the road rules. Avoid any battles for “right of way” or engage in highway races. This is not only a show of respect for other motorists, but a way of protecting the safety of everyone in your vehicle.
Defensive driving. The National Safety Council was also behind the Defensive Driving Campaign. It is not enough to follow rules. A truly cautious and aware driver also takes into account that 1) other drivers may not be as responsible, and 2) accidents can happen anytime, and it is better to err on the side of caution. One of the rules of defensive driving is to take a “three-second following distance” that gives a wide berth between your car and the one in front of you. This avoids any collisions or sudden stops that could lead to whiplash or bumps.
The National Safety Council also recommends watching out for cars with movements that indicate that the driver is “impaired.” Signs include straddling the center line, abrupt spots, sluggish response to traffic signals, and unusually wide turns. The best course of action is to take a defensive stance and avoid the car. Make a right at the nearest corner, or take the nearest exit. If there is none, pull over and flash the lights. Once you have stopped the car, notify the police of the suspicious vehicle and provide them with the license plate number.
Extra precautions must be made while driving at night, because of the poorer light and the higher risk of running into (or driving into, as the case may be) intoxicated drivers. Use your headlights, and drive slower.