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Do your driving habits help prevent collisions on your commute?

Taking a job that requires a long commute may be the best choice for your situation, but the extra time you spend on the road may increase your odds of being involved in a serious traffic collision. Fortunately, some driving habits can help minimize this risk.

You may be practicing some safe driving habits without even realizing it. However, you may also have some unsafe driving habits that could be risking your safety and the safety of others on the road.

Drive when you are alert

Driving only when you are alert is one habit that can help reduce your risk of crashing. In our fast-paced society, many people trivialize the danger associated with driving when tired. However, drowsy driving caused almost 800 deaths in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Fatigue can cause you to fall asleep at the wheel, but it also impairs your ability to pay attention to the road and make quick decisions.

Usually, drowsy driving occurs when someone does not get enough sleep the night before, but it can also be caused by undiagnosed sleep disorders, side effects of medications or irregular sleep patterns caused by shift work or a new baby in the household. The best way to make sure you will be alert for your commute is by getting seven to eight hours of sleep every night. However, if you are still tired during your commute, consider talking with your doctor to see if you have a sleep condition or are experiencing side effects to your medications.

Stay focused on the road

Commuting to and from work each day can get tedious pretty quickly. You may try to multitask to fend off boredom or to try to make up for lost time. However, driving distractions increase your odds of being in a collision and, in some cases, break the law.

Pennsylvania law prohibits you from sending, reading or writing text-based communication while driving, but texting is not the only driving distraction you should watch out for. Any activity that requires you to take your eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel or mind off the road is a dangerous distraction.

To avoid common distractions, make a habit of getting up early enough to eat breakfast and complete personal grooming before your commute. Also, consider adopting a pre-drive routine that involves securing your cell phone out of reach, setting your temperature controls and setting your music before you begin driving.

Be calm and in control

Driving can be stressful at times. There will be days when you run late, get stuck in a traffic jam or need to react quickly to another driver’s unsafe maneuver. However, when these situations occur, it is important to stay calm and in control instead of giving in to road rage.

However understandable your anger may be, road rage often leads to driving aggressively and taking unnecessary risks. When you are angry, you might speed, tailgate another driver, weave in and out of traffic, honk at other drivers, make angry gestures or try to block a vehicle from changing lanes. Each of these actions can increase your chances of being involved in a collision. Instead, try to give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, so you are less likely to be impatient. Also, try to keep hand gestures positive, avoid honking when possible, maintain a safe distance from other vehicles and cut slow drivers some slack.

Some safe driving habits may come easily to you, while others may require practice. However, when you are alert, focused and calm as you drive, you will be less likely to cause a collision and more likely to safely avoid potential collisions caused by other drivers during your commute.


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