5 Tips to Becoming a Safer Driver

Each time you get behind the wheel, you’re responsible for the safety of everyone in your car and in the cars around you. If you’re a new driver, the excitement of driving might overshadow the accompanying risks. If you’re an experienced driver, you might have slipped into some bad habits that make you less safe. Either way, these five tips will help you minimize your risks on the road and become a safer driver.

Track your behaviour. Some Canadian insurers offer usage-based insurance plans, which provides them with information on your driving habits – such as acceleration, speed and braking – in return for a discount on your premium. If you’re wary of providing so much data to your insurer, consider the upsides.

First, you’ll likely receive an immediate discount to your premium, and, if your data demonstrates good driving, up to 30 percent in savings when it’s time for renewal. In addition, studies have shown that most drivers who track their behaviour develop better driving habits, thanks to the real-time feedback.

Ditch distractions. In Ontario, distracted driving has been named the deadliest driving behaviour for five years in a row. It has caused more road deaths in the province than any other factor, including speed and alcohol, and makes you four times more likely to get in an accident. If you’re tempted to check your phone while driving, put it somewhere out of reach. But remember, it’s not just your phone that causes a distraction! Other common culprits are eating and drinking, listening to loud music, and grooming in the car.

Take a defensive driving class. You can control your actions behind the wheel, but not the actions of your fellow drivers. Driving defensively means that you’re prepared to quickly and safely identify and respond to road hazards. Many driving schools offer defensive driving courses for new drivers, but even experienced drivers can benefit from upgrading their skills. Some courses will teach you advanced skills to cope with unsafe road conditions, handle your vehicle and respond to dangerous situations.

Invest in the right car. Cars these days come with so many safety features that can compliment your driving. Back-up cameras and sensors can help you reverse with more confidence, forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking can help you avoid a accident, blind spot monitoring can help you monitor traffic around your vehicle, and lane-keeping assist technology will stop you from drifting out of your lane.  

Manage your mood. Your mental state can have a big impact on your driving behaviour. Feeling rushed? You’ll be more likely to speed. Feeling tired? You’re reactions times will be slower. Feeling angry? You’ll be more likely to get in an accident. If you’re not at your best when you’re getting in the car, make a few tweaks to your environment to help manage your mood. Listen to calming music, practice deep breathing or open the windows to get some fresh air.

Being safer behind the wheel has benefits beyond the obvious (avoiding dangerous collisions). You’ll also be less likely to receive traffic tickets and more likely to qualify for a lower insurance premium. Next time you buckle-up, take a quick moment to reflect on these five tips and resolve to drive safely and responsibly.