Recently, CarMax released The Ultimate Guide to Commuting, an article and infographic on the average daily commute by state throughout the U.S. The average time spent commuting varies greatly depending on each state. Take South Dakota and New York City for example. South Dakota averages on the low end of the spectrum at about 15 minutes. However, New York City’s average commute time is inching towards 40 minutes. Whether 15 or 40 minutes, commuters are spending a significant amount of time in their vehicles. It is important that all of those minutes are spent being aware and staying safe. Use these four tips to become a smarter driver and safe commuter.
No distracted driving
Distracted driving is not only an umbrella term that covers most of what we do in the car that isn’t driving, but it’s the easiest way to put ourselves in danger while operating a vehicle. Talking or texting on cell phones, having friends in the car, setting up music and radio stations, eating snacks, or searching around in a bag are some of the most common ways to distract ourselves and immediately endanger ourselves and any passengers. Set up the music playlist before you head out or put your passenger in charge of DJing, set your cell phone to silent, and pull over if there’s a real reason you have to shuffle through the bag that’s behind your seat.
Be a vigilant car owner
Beyond the check engine lights and a full tank of gas, there are a number of things a safe driver knows about his or her car. Being aware of how your car operates is vital to your safety and your wallet’s health. Knowing the sounds your car makes, the movements it makes, and the feeling of driving different speeds can help you identify if anything ever goes wrong.
Know your route
It’s not just texting and talking on a cell phone that puts people in harm’s way, it’s really any interaction with it at all. A glance down at the screen can be enough time for a car to unexpectedly pull out in front of you. Looking at the map or setting up navigation should all be done before putting the car in drive. Trying to figure out the intricacies of a map and directions is far too distracting and dangerous to be doing in a moving vehicle. Do it beforehand, get Siri (or Bixby or Cortana) to do it, or nominate a passenger to be the map reader. It’ll save you both time and stress.
Eyes on the prize
It’s easy to get flustered, frustrated, or even aggressive. Remember, it’s better to show up a few minutes late to something than to not show up at all. Accidents are preventable and if every driver focused his or her attention only on driving, the roads would be safer. While it may seem like accidents happen to everyone else, remember that one glance away from the road can be enough time to put yourself, passengers, and any other drivers in danger. None of us are perfect, but constantly reminding yourself of safe driving practices is certainly a step in the right direction.