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Driving safe is always important, but doubly so when you’re driving a car you don’t own. The last thing you want to do is wreck, and possibly total, a car you borrowed from a friend or rented. So here are twelve tips to help you avoid a disastrous situation.
Don’t drive tired!
Some of the nastiest car accidents in history have occurred because someone fell asleep at the wheel. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep before driving, and don’t drive too late into the night and for hired cars it’s recommended to pack the car as fast as it gets 7:pm. If you’re in a situation where you need to drive through the night and feel yourself dozing off even a little, pull over to the side of the road and go to sleep until you’re better rested.
Driving on an empty stomach can be quite distracting, and any little distraction increases your chance of an accident. The only reason to drive on an empty stomach is when you’re on your way to a restaurant.
Don’t drink and drive!
It’s simple, you’ve probably heard it a million times by now, but it’s nevertheless true. Smart people don’t drink and drive. Alcohol impairs reaction time and your overall judgment. The best thing to do is hold yourself to a zero tolerance policy – even if the country you’re in doesn’t.
Know the traffic laws!
Speaking of driving in other countries, laws differ in each. Before you drive in any country, you should take the time to learn its laws. Most rental companies and international airports will have pamphlets that’ll tell you all you need to know. Read up before you drive off and you’ll probably save yourself a few tickets.
Get familiar with the car
If you’ve just picked up a rental, or borrowed a car from a friend, get familiar with it before driving to your first destination. In the middle of traffic is not the time to be searching for the carious air conditioning controls or to reprogram the radio settings. Make sure your mirrors are adjusted and you know where your blinkers and emergency controls are located before your initial departure.
You may be twenty-two and think you’re Superman, but you’re still only human. Driving for long periods of time without stopping to take a break isn’t good for you physically or mentally. The longer you drive without a break, the greater your level of fatigue becomes. You become complacent and a danger on the road. Take a break every thirty minutes to two hours and stretch whenever you travel long distances.
If you’re going to be driving for a few hours, or possibly even days, and there’s another person riding along, switch periodically. Switching every so often will constitute as a break and allow you to get somewhere more quickly and safely than if you were driving alone. Whenever you switch, you’re replacing a fatigued set of eyes with a fresh set. Share the work and you’ll both have a much easier, and enjoyable, experience.
Check the car over before you drive.
A driver’s worst nightmare, beyond a fatal accident, is having a car breakdown in the middle of nowhere. To keep this from happening, check the car over and make sure there isn’t any possible danger of it breaking down before you reach your destination. That isn’t to say it won’t, sometimes cars just break for no reason, but it’ll be less likely if it isn’t already experiencing problems.
Slowdown in bad weather.
It’s easy to get in a hurry and want to drive at the same speed no matter the conditions, but if you’re in bad weather then slow down. Slowing down allows for greater reaction time than could possibly save your life. It also helps you adjust for the conditions. For instance, if you’re in a heavy downpour, driving slower can actually make it easier to see because less water is hitting your windshield than when you were driving faster. Driving slower also allows you to brake more quickly in certain conditions, and will likely save your life in most.
Don’t text and drive!
With the advent and popularity of texting, it can be enticing to text while you’re driving. Don’t! Whatever you’re saying can warrant a hands-free phone call or can wait until later. Any task that takes your eyes of the road completely should be avoided at all costs.
Wear your seat belt!
It’s proven that seat belts save lives. You can’t control how other people drive. Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst. It isn’t going to kill you to put it on, but it might kill you not to.
Pay attention to others!
It’s easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on the vehicles right in front of you, but you should keep track of the people all around you as well. You never know what could happen. Stay on your toes, keep track of your surroundings, and you might be able to avoid being in a major pile-up.