10 Steps To Responsible Driving

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Since you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you must rely on your own skills and experience. Following these 10 rules will ensure a safe and courteous journey.

  • Be prepared: Know where you’re going before you start. Be well-informed about weather and road conditions or traffic activity on your route. For longer trips, include a rest stop every two hours, sooner if you are tired. Pack an emergency rations kit of water and nonperishable food items such as energy bars.


  • Always wear your seat belt: Seat belts keep you in control and ready to react to a hazardous situation. Everyone should wear a seatbelt while in the vehicle.



  • Put the phone down: A mobile phone is great for roadside emergencies, but using a phone while you drive drastically reduces your reaction time to all situations. Minimize distractions by concentrating on the road, not objects, people or events inside your vehicle.



  • Know your surroundings: Scan the roadway continually for hazards. Keep your eyes moving, looking from one side to the other. Know what is happening well in front of you; watch for brake lights. Use the mirrors to keep an eye on traffic beside and behind you.



  • Share the road: Pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, vehicles of varying sizes, as well as drivers of various ages and skill levels, all have a right to use the road. Slow down and give others time and space to proceed safely. Treat them like dear friends — they are to someone.



  • Signal your intentions: Be predictable and courteous and signal your intentions so other road users know what you plan to do next. Use your horn or headlights, if necessary.



  • Watch your speed: Posted maximum speeds are for ideal driving conditions. Adjust your speed for traffic, road and visibility conditions or when not operating at your best. Higher speeds magnify errors and decrease response times. It helps to maintain a large “safety cushion” around your vehicle to change lanes safely and to take evasive action in emergencies.



  • Maintain your vehicle: Read your owner’s manual and follow the recommended schedule for maintenance service. Routinely check tires, brakes, lights, wipers and fluid levels. Pack a flashlight, blanket and first-aid kit. In cold climates, pack extra warm clothing. Carry a mobile phone for emergencies.



  • Move your disabled vehicle: If your car breaks down, move it off the road away from traffic, if possible. Warn other drivers by raising the vehicle’s hood or using your hazard lights, then stay inside and ask passersby to call the police. If you’re unable to move the car out of traffic, get all passengers to exit the vehicle and move to the side of the road when safe. If you must walk to a phone, keep your group together.



  • Don’t drive while impaired: Never drive while under the influence of alcohol, prescription or street drugs, or over-the-counter medications that make you drowsy. Not only will you put yourself and your passengers in danger, but a traffic violation of this nature can seriously derail a military career. Don’t be a driver if you think you are going to drink. Road rage and normal fatigue can also impair your response time. Be calm, well-rested, alert and attentive any time you get behind the wheel.



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