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Let me start by telling you why I am an expert on the topic of staying alive while driving a car. I have been an RN in the fields of trauma and transplant for 20 years.
This means that I have worked in one capacity or another with people involved in car accidents. I’ve seen some walk out of the hospital, some never walk again, and some that never left alive.
With that being said…
Let’s get to the good stuff. If you follow a few simple tips you will reduce your chances of being in a car accident.
Check out your car.
As you approach your car, take a glance around it. Make sure your tires aren’t low and there’s nothing behind your car. A flat tire on the side of the road sucks. Know before you go, just give your beloved car the once over glance.
Check your lights and signals.
You should check out your lights and turn signals at least once a month. I have a simple way I do this without needing someone behind the car screaming or giving a thumbs up.
If you have a friend to help, that’s a bonus. Here is how I do it solo.
If you are parked in front of a building or your garage, turn on your lights and look for the reflection in the building, wall, another car in front of you. You should be able to see two beams. Flick on your high beams to check those as well.
Using the same tactic, check each turn signal. This is the lever that turns on your indicators to tell other drivers that you are intending to turn. If you don’t use these yet, see below.
To check your tail lights and brake lights (two different things), back up to a building or wall and put it in PARK. Turn on your lights to see if your tail lights are working. These are lights that stay on while your headlights are on.
Look for the red reflection. Then put your foot on the brake and look for a brighter red reflection on each side. Additionally, check your turn signals just as you did in the front.
You can also do this while sitting in traffic. The car in front and behind you will reflect your lights.
Ok, lights, signals, check, check, what’s next?
Wear your seatbelt.
This is simple. Grab that belt and strap it on. Do it before you put the car in gear. Do it every single time. Quick trips across a parking lot can end in an accident.
If you have children, please put them in the appropriate car seat or booster seat required by law in your state. Children become projectiles in a car accident and are often ejected out of the car if they aren’t bounced around inside.
I hope that is graphic enough to make you buckle your children in a seat belt.
Do not allow anyone to ride in your car without a seat belt. If they tell you that it is “their” choice, this is what you can tell them.
Tell your friend that their body will become a (insert their weight here) pound projectile that will likely decapitate anyone else in the car. Tell them you like to keep your body in one piece as a general rule.
If they ride with you, they must buckle their seat belt. Access denied, otherwise.
I’ve had paramedics tell me that they never wear a seat belt because they’ve seen too many people that were saved because they weren’t buckled up. I challenge this logic every time.
Having worked a long career in the field of organ donation, I can tell you that this just is not true. Wear your seat belt or sign up to be an organ donor. You can sign up online here to be an organ donor.
You should be an organ donor anyway. If you happen to be tragically killed and have the opportunity to give the gift of life, you should. Buried organs can’t save lives and you don’t need them anymore at that point.
Harsh? It’s super harsh. I’ve had countless family members crying at my feet when they realize their child, husband, mother, etc. is dead from a car accident where they weren’t wearing a seat belt. Don’t be a statistic.
Communicate with your fellow drivers.
In order to communicate with your fellow drivers, you must indicate. What I mean by “indicate” is, use your turn signals.
If you are going to make a turn, signal to give the driver behind you and those coming toward you, to give an idea of what you are doing.
Failure to use a turn signal can cause a multitude of accidents on the road. Get in the habit of doing it and do it every single time.
On the highway, drive on the right and pass on the left.
I have a 45 minute carpool that spans most of the city that I live in. It’s like being in the movie Madmax every morning and every night. I drive on two different major highways and two different bridges.
I drive with other drivers every day that drive the speed limit in the left lane and just cruise along without a care in the world.
Meanwhile, I’m behind them ready to lose my mind. This is a huge pet peeve of frequent highway drivers.
It’s dangerous for me to go around them on the right-hand side of the road for a multitude of reasons. This causes accidents. Please drive in the right lane regardless of your speed.
This is a law in Florida and many other states.
If you catch up to the next car, signal, pass, signal, and get in front of them and keep driving. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
Do not do this. Ever.
Please do not put your feet up on the dashboard. Unless you want your knees to go through your face in the event of an accident. I think that sums it up.
Also, keep your feet inside the car and not sticking out the window. While this may not cause your death, you may have an amputation to look forward to. Let’s stay alive while driving, with all of our limbs.
Hazard lights are for when you are pulled over on the side of the road.
Florida gets a lot of rain. Sometimes it comes down in sheets and with the bright sun behind the clouds it gets difficult to see where you are going.
Floridians love to put their hazard lights on and proceed to drive the car at 5 mph down the highway in the rain that they can’t see in.
If you use your hazard lights, pull over and sit it out. It is against the law to drive with your hazards on in Florida unless you are part of a funeral procession.
It is also the law to turn your lights on when you are using your wipers. If it’s raining, turn on your headlights so everyone can see you.
Don’t text and drive.
Most states have already put this into law. Florida has made it a secondary offense. This means the police cannot pull you over for doing it, but if they do pull you over, they can charge you with this as a secondary offense.
If you want to stay alive while driving, don’t text and drive.
You’ve seen the statistics and read the stories. Just let that text sit and marinate until you get to where you are going. Don’t be so accessible. Let them anticipate your response.
Roundabouts? What the heck are those?
Roundabouts are everywhere in Europe but a relatively new roadway in Florida. I have one in my neighborhood. It is a cause for much aggravation and confusion.
Confusion for every one except for me, or so it would seem.
If you are driving up to a roundabout the rules are simple. Yield (slow down) for another car that is already in the roundabout or one that will enter the roundabout before you.
Look to your left, if no one is coming, keep driving. If a car is also approaching, decide who is going to get there first.
If it is you, keep moving, do not pause, do not stop. GO!
If they will beat you into the roundabout, yield to them and get in behind them, keeping the flow of traffic moving.
The drivers in my neighborhood all love to come to a screeching halt if more than one car approaches the roundabout. This is fine, as long as I keep moving. It’s when I’m behind them and I almost rear end them, that it become problematic.
Remember: look to your left, and yield or go. Stay alive while driving!
If you get into a fender bender, pull your vehicle off to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights.
If you find yourself in an accident where everyone is okay, pull your car over to the side of the road and put on your hazard lights.
The police recreate accidents every day without the cars in place to determine the causes of accidents. They can figure out what happened, it’s not
If you stay on the roadway and hold up traffic, we all are giving you the finger. Move safely to the side of the road so that you don’t cause a 20 car pile up. Please and thank you for staying alive while driving.
Chaos in the car? Pull the car over.
Screaming children, spouses, animals all can distract you to death. If someone is acting out and can’t be calmed, pull the car over to handle it.
Reaching into the back seat to calm someone or to grab an item can cause you to crash. Distracted driving is bad for us all.
Pull into a safe area and deal with the situation. Stay alive while driving.
When someone is passing you, do not speed up.
If someone is trying to pass or overtake your car, let off the gas for a second and let them by.
Speeding up is rude and puts the other driver and you in danger. If you are butt-hurt that someone passed you, then speed up next time.
Congratulations to making it to the end of this post! I’m glad you care enough about your own life to read to the end.
This is a sarcastic, road rage rant, but there’s truth in every nugget. Please be safe out there and stay out of the Emergency Room.
Share this with a driver that needs it and post it to your favorite social media. Let’s all stay alive while driving!