Staying Alive While Driving

staying alive while driving

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Motherly Advice

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.

brake lights
Photo by Jesse Collins on Unsplash

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.

Child not in a car seat and potential projectile
Projectile child.
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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.

Drive on the right, 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.

Feet on the dashboard airbag
Photo by Paula May on Unsplash

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.

Keep your feet inside the car
Photo by anja. on Unsplash

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.

Driving safely in the rain with your lights on.
Driving safely in the rain with your lights on. Photo by Thái An on Unsplash

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.

Roundabout, look left and yield or go!

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 rocket science.

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.

Giving the finger to bad drivers
Photo by Jose Carbajal on Unsplash

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.

Final thoughts.

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!

Much love.

How to Stay Alive While Driving
Be safe out there!
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21 thoughts on “Staying Alive While Driving

  1. Great post! I agree with it too. I have to admit that I tend to travel in the left lane, at slower speeds. One thing that really bothers me is night driving. I do try to avoid night driving as much as possible, but sometimes I have no choice. Lights shine in my windows and people drive with their brights on. That’s all well and good for highway driving, however, if you are passing a vehicle and are not on the highway, turn the brights off. If vehicles have to pass me, I’m going to slow down (or sometimes stop) because the lights bother me so bad. And I will be in the left lane where no one can come up on me with lights reflecting in my mirrors, blinding me. I can tolerate right side passing because I can move the mirror enough that I can avoid bright light glare. However, if they come up on my left side and especially with brights on (or those real bright lightbulbs- LED or whatever they are.) I’m going to have to slow way down or stop. People run up on me, tailgate me, flash those blinding lights at me, causing me to slow down even more, then drive past honking horns, I’m sorry to all of you but I have no choice, it’s the only way I can drive without having to stop every time a light passes me.

    However, I do agree that in normal circumstances, I will drive in the right or center lane, and only pass to the left.

    I am one of those people who saw an experience where had a family member been wearing a seat belt, she wouldn’t be alive today. She was a teenager and driving too fast in wet conditions. She was not wearing her seat belt. Her car hydroplaned and she lost control and hit a tree. Had she had her seat belt on, she would have been crushed. However, with the impact, she was pushed out of her seat and into the passenger seat. The medical response team and the critical care team in the ER said that had she had her seat belt on, she would not have survived. As it is, her legs are paralyzed and she can’t speak well. She has relearned how to care for herself mostly and is confined to a chair. She has a system that talks for her, she just types in what she wants to say and has learned how to say some simple words again.

    You are one of the few who touches on distractions other than cell phones. Many people comment on cell phone distractions, but completely ignore other distractions while driving. Anything can become a driving distraction too. Reading the paper, doing your hair, putting on makeup, ect. All these can lead to accidents, as well as children or other passengers talking. And, for me at least, I sometimes need to be talking on the cell phone if I’m starting to get drowsy, so there is someone helping to keep me awake.

    These are just a few thoughts on your article! Again, great job!

    1. Thank you, Gina, for your comments! Yes, distraction is a big thing, it takes only a second to have your eyes off the road for tragedy to strike. I used to do a lot of traveling for work and tired driving. I took a lot of risks and I’m glad that somehow it never went badly. But I hear you, windows down, music up, talking on the phone, singing, whatever I could do to stay awake short of pulling over. I would now advise that people pull over! Take care and be careful out there!

    1. Bill, YES!!! I left out merging….how did I forget that important skill. I’ve never heard it called scissor merging so I googled it. Here they must call it zipper merging, because that is all I can find. This happens every time I take my highway exit. No one knows how to get up there and assert themselves. I try, everyday to show them how it’s done. LOL I might have to edit this post. LOL Thanks for coming by Bill!

  2. These are all really good tips. I need to check the lights on my car more often. It’s always something I neglect!! My dad used to be a fireman, and so he always said that it’s not worth speeding, to always wear seatbelts and to not drink and drive. He attended some pretty distressing car accidents over the years, and when I started driving he told me some of the stories. It officially out me off doing anything stupid while driving. It’s great to raise awareness like this and to help people to become better drivers and stay safe on the roads.

    1. I have to remind myself that bad drivers teach their kids to be bad drivers. We don’t have formal driving training in this country (we really need it) and that perpetuates the cycle. I hope it helps a few people learn to drive safer. Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

    2. Hi Kat, Yes, the children of nurses, doctors, firefighters, paramedics, and police are usually full of the horror stories of what can happen to you. It’s a way we help our kids learn without the pain, lol. These things are distressing to see and worse to be a victim of. I hope we can spread a little awareness around. Keep safe out there! Thank you for coming by the Garden.

  3. I love reading posts about driving, and driving safely. Purely because I love that people are talking about it, and although not everyone may listen even if one person does – it makes a difference! I was in an RTA 18 months ago, through no fault of my own; I was purely in the wrong place at the wrong time and it really opened up my eyes! Great post!

    1. Thank you Deborah! Yes, it only takes one split second for you to look away….and disaster can strike. Thank you for commenting!

    1. I know a whole city that needs it!! LOL. I spend way too much time in the car obviously. Feel free to share away to the drivers in your life. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  4. Honestly this encapsulates all of my anxiety about driving at all. We’re in such a fast-paced society that the roads often feel un-safe. These are very reassuring tips! I hope some more reckless drivers see this.

    1. Hi Ashley, I hope they do as well. If everyone could work on being safer, we could definitely reduce death and injury from car accidents. Thank you for your comments.

  5. Great post and amazing write-up, super informative ! Many people should read this post and be more responsabile while driving xoxo

  6. Thanks Michelle for sharing this with us 🙂
    Unfortunately, I can see a lot of these things around when I’m driving and I’m a bit scared… I cannot stand people who “text and drive” especially when they’re in the motorway at more than 90mph 😵
    I’m from Italy so driving is a wild thing for us 😅 but I have to be honest, I found myself more in danger driving in England than in Italy 🤨 you cannot imagine how many people stop in the middle or the road just to give way to someone who doesn’t have it… just to be POLITE 🤬
    The thing about “Do not do this. Ever.” really creeps me out 😰 It reminds me of a Quentin Tarantino film! Unfortunately I suppose is something you’ve seen in hospital.

    Isa

    1. The British are so very polite! But yes, that is so dangerous, I see that happen here too. I’ve driven in Holland and it’s a breeze. Been a passenger in Germany, terrifying. I’ll have to watch out for Italy 🙂 I think I will write about driving anxiety. Someone in my family suffers from it and it appears, based on the comments here, that it’s something that people are living with. Thank you for coming over and commenting!

  7. I don’t understand why people are behind you they pull around in front of you and cut you off to exit at that next exit when you’re doing the posted speed limit, it makes no sense why they need to do this when they can exit right after you pass that exit. I see this all the time. The difference of one car length someone please explain what I’m missing here?

    1. Everyone is always in such a hurry to gain distance, even if it’s just one car. It’s dangerous and aggressive. Not to mention annoying!!! Stay safe 🙂

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