As a holder of an official state driver’s license, you now have what it takes to be a safe, responsible driver on the road – for the most part, anyway. You’ve mastered the 3-point turn, are well aware of all your surroundings, and turn signals are your best friend.
But driving is an ever-evolving learning experience, and there’s always more you can do to improve your skills on the road. Here are some simple tips that they don’t teach you in driver’s ed, but can be equally effective in improving your safety.
Change Your Wipers Often When Weather is Dry
If you’re living in a place that typically only rains one or two months out of the year, such as California or Nevada, it should make sense that since your windshield wipers are sparingly used, they should last longer, right? Not so fast.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: windshield wipers eventually wear out, but when conditions are particularly dry and hot, they wear out even quicker. Ever wonder why it seems like your wipers don’t work as well in the fall months, even though you’ve only used them a few times in the summer? The harsh, dry, hot conditions of the summer heat can dramatically decrease the shelf life of your wipers, rendering them dry, brittle, and useless to the elements when you really need them.
It might seem counterproductive, but when conditions are dry and arid, replace your wipers often. Having shoddy wipers during a sudden storm can hamper your driver visibility immensely and put you in immediate driving danger.
Adjust Your Car Mirrors Properly
Most driver’s ed programs and seasoned drivers will tell you that there’s no way around the dreaded “blind spots” – places on the sides of your vehicle that you can’t conventionally see with unless your crane your head back. We’ve all been taught to physically move our head back to look for cars in our blind spots before changing lanes – but what if we’ve been doing it all wrong this whole time?
There is actually a way to adjust your mirrors to negate any and all blindspots. The trick is to adjust your side mirrors further out, to the point where you can’t view your own car. In doing so, your view of the sides overlaps with the image in your rearview mirror, thereby eliminating any and all blind spots from your point of view. Here’s a nifty diagram for clarification.
Those who’ve driven their whole life with their side mirrors viewing their car say it’s difficult to get used to this vantage point, but hey, if it means less chances of a car accident, bring it on.
Ease Up on the Key Chain
It’s common for commuters to have a few keys on their key chain – after all, unless you’re living in a high-tech Tony Stark-esque mansion, you still have doors with traditional locks on them. And it’s not unexpected to carry a few fun doodads on your key chain as well. But did you know that keeping all of this extra baggage with your car keys can potentially spell doom for your vehicle?
The extra weight resulting from these keys and toys can put unnecessary stress on your vehicle’s internal ignition switch – for laymen, the little hole you stick your key into to make the car go VROOM VROOM. While a few keys won’t do much harm, having more than 5 keys – plus all your fun tchotchkes – weighing down your car key can result in a damaged ignition switch. Once the internals start wearing out, you may start to experience issues starting your car, even though nothing looks wrong on the surface.
Lighten the load on your car key chain – if you must, keep your keys to a max of 3. As for the fun little toys, keep them at home or in the office – a cute little troll on your keyring isn’t worth the trouble of a car that won’t start.
October 19th through the 23rd is National Teen Driver Safety Week. This week, I Drive Safely and our sister site DriversEd.com will be sharing a lot of great information aimed at teen drivers and their parents – tips that will help everyone in your family stay safe on the roads. And for teens and their parents in California and Texas, we’re offering something extra – we’re giving away over 2,000 hours’ worth of online California and Texas driver training course! To enter to win one of the 35 iDriveSafely California Online Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (30 hours each), California teens 14 and older can email CA_Sweepstakes@eDriving.com. To enter to win one of 15 DriversEd.com Parent-Taught Drivers Education Courses for novice drivers (86 hours each), Texas teens should email TX_Sweepstakes@eDriving.com. The courses have a retail value of $64.95 and $149, respectively. Find full rules for the giveaway at www.edriving.com.