Driving anywhere can be hazardous, but New York’s roads have an especially notorious reputation. Aggressive drivers and bad weather can, at times, make the roads perilous. If you’re headed out on New York’s roads, here are five defensive driving tips to help keep yourself and others safe.
Bring a Navigator
If you’re headed somewhere that you don’t know the way to, you’ll, of course, need to bring directions. You should also bring a navigator. Often, you’ll need to make navigational decisions in heavy-traffic areas. Bringing a navigator along who can tell you where to turn will help you get to where you’re going while also keeping your eyes on the road.
A navigator may be another person riding with you, or you can use your GPS. Either way, make sure your navigator knows where you’re going before you get on the road. In other words, if you’re using a GPS, set it up before you leave.
Sometimes, even if you have the aid of a navigator or GPS, you may be confused about a turn or other situation. Even if you aren’t sure of what to do, you need to make a decision and continue driving if there’s nowhere to pull over. Slowing down or stopping in the middle of the road to figure something out can be dangerous. If you aren’t sure what to do and can’t safely pull over, make the best decision you can. You might make the incorrect decision, but wrong turns can be made right. It’s most important to not put yourself or other drivers in a precarious position on the road.
Know Your Safe Zones
Constantly thinking about where your safe zones are while driving can make it easier to make good split-second decisions if something happens while you’re driving. Safe zones are the areas where you can most safely direct your vehicle if there’s an emergency. For instance, on a two-lane road, the safe zone is usually your shoulder on the right side of the road. When driving on the Thruway or another multi-lane highway in the state, safe zones are constantly changing as traffic moves around you.
You should always be thinking about where your safe zones are, as an emergency can occur at any time. Get in the habit of thinking about where you could go if a hazard suddenly appeared in the road, so you don’t have to think about it when one does appear — you’ll already know what to do.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding played a factor in 28 percent of accidents in 2014 (the latest year data is available for). It’s especially dangerous on roads like those in New York, which are often covered with snow, ice or rain.
By driving the speed limit (or lower if road conditions are bad), you’ll reduce your likelihood of being in an accident. Specifically, you’ll:
- reduce the chance of hydroplaning
- give yourself more time to react to hazards
- shorten your braking distance
Don’t Drink and Drive
It’s a common message, but it can never be understated. Don’t, under any circumstances, drink and drive. If you’re even a little tipsy, have a friend drive you, call a cab or take public transit. You need to make judgments when driving, and alcohol impairs your ability to do that.
When you get behind the wheel, keep these defensive driving tips in mind. They’ll help keep you, those with you, and other drivers on the road safe. To further your education on defensive driving, and to also receive a mandatory discount on your car insurance, take a NY defensive driving course. It will be helpful and beneficial to your pocketbook. Efficient
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