Driving Habits That Save Lives and Wallets
Photo by Farzanah Rosli on Unsplash
Research psychologists define a habit as “a process whereby context prompts action automatically, through activation of mental context”--essentially, a habit is when we do something automatically because the situation calls for it. A lot of what we do while driving could be defined as “habit”, though we may just think of them as road safety rules. We barely think about turning on our blinkers, checking both ways before crossing a street, or braking at stop signs. Through experience and lots of practice, these are just habits we’ve built.
Habits are simpler to build than you think.
Your basic driving habits keep you safe on the road. Though they might not feel easy to do at first, the more you practice, the more automatic they’ll feel–just like turning on your blinker and braking at a stop sign. Still, you can build many other habits to ensure your safety and avoid costly repairs.
Keep an emergency kit in your car.
Keeping an emergency kit in your car and re-assessing what you need every month is a great habit to build. Emergency kits are crucial if your car breaks down or runs out of gas. Your kit should include:
- First aid kit
- Flares or reflective triangles
- Flashlight and batteries (keep in a waterproof container)
- Tire inflator and spare tire jack, if applicable
- Jumper cables/windup jump starter pack
- Blanket, gloves, and bottled water in case of emergency -- keep them in a waterproof container to protect from extreme heat or cold outside the car (you can buy a small portable cooler that can fit under your seat for less than $20)
Keep up with routine maintenance to avoid surprises.
Preparing for the unexpected is one of the most important things you can do to keep yourself and others safe on the road. Here are a few simple tips for being ready for anything:
- Keep your car in good repair.
- Tires should always be properly inflated, and brake pads must be replaced every time they get worn down past a certain point (check with your mechanic).
- Always wear your seat belt! Even if you're only going two blocks, it could save your life in an accident by keeping you from getting thrown around inside your car or thrown out into traffic.
Look up from your phone and pay attention.
Don't use your phone while driving. Whether it's texting, emailing, or talking on the phone—it's all distracting and dangerous. Be cautious even with the things that don't fall into the above category, like putting in an address for directions or changing a song.
Even if the car is at a stop, build this habit better by having your phone far away from the wheel or in car mode.
Don't text, email, or talk on your phone when stopped at a red light. You should focus 100% of your attention on the road if you're stopped in traffic so that if there is a problem ahead of you, you can react swiftly and safely without taking your eyes off the road for too long (or even looking up from a screen).
Always check your blind spots before changing lanes or merging.
There are two kinds of blind spots, and both have the potential to cause you serious trouble. The first is your left, right, or rear sides—areas where you can't see because of the vehicle next to you. The second is what's directly in front of your vehicle while driving straight ahead—the area that lies beyond your "view."
To stay safe on the roadways, it's important to always check these areas before changing lanes or merging into another lane. To do so:
- Look over your shoulder at what's behind you (left side). Is there anything approaching? If so, wait until it passes before moving over into that lane.
- Check around the sides of your car (right side). Is there anything approaching from either direction? If so, wait until it passes before moving into another lane or turning off a different road altogether.
- Check out front (straight ahead) and over either shoulder again for any other vehicles looking for an opening in traffic so they can create their opening—and potentially cut in front of yours!
Don't ignore dashboard warning lights.
Ignoring dashboard warning lights is one of the most dangerous driving habits you can have–and it’s also the most costly. Dashboard warning lights indicate a problem with your vehicle that needs attention. Ignoring them can lead to more expensive repairs down the road.
Make a habit of getting a vehicle inspection every couple of months. Whenever you go in for an oil change, you should see if everything else in your vehicle is in good shape. In addition to saving you money in repairs, paying attention to your vehicle's warning signs will help keep other drivers safe.
Come see us at Brown Motor Works.
The bottom line is that there are many ways to improve your driving habits and save money. One of your best habits is checking in consistently with your auto mechanic. At Brown Motor Works, we hope to be that trusted mechanic. We want to support you in building better driving habits and ensuring your vehicle keeps your family safe. Brown Motor Works Northeast is located at 520 Clemson Rd., Columbia, SC 29229, but you can also schedule an appointment online. And don't forget to Like us on Facebook for news and updates. We specialize in BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Mini Coopers, so you can feel confident your vehicle is in good hands with our highly skilled technicians.