Many drivers consider their commute as bonus time to get ready for work, applying makeup or making last-minute phone calls. Others see it as a time to catch up on their Facebook feed or tweet their frustrations about traffic.
In any of those scenarios, you are putting your life and the life of the drivers around you on the line. In 2009, there were 4,944 deadly crashes between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., which is prime rush hour in most cities. Don’t let yourself become one of these numbers — use the following tips to make your commute safer.
1. Put Away the Smartphone
One of the biggest distractions while you’re driving? Your smartphone. If traffic slows, you may be tempted to scroll through your Instagram feed, read the latest emails to hit your inbox, or even play a game. All these things take your focus off the road, meaning you might not notice if the car in front of you stops.
To prevent temptation, keep your phone tucked away in your purse or briefcase so you can’t access it. If you need to have it out for emergencies, download an app like LifeSaver that blocks text messages and calls when you’re traveling on the road.
2. Practice Meditation
Road rage is a real distraction while you’re driving, as it can cause you to make irrational decisions that put you in danger. In fact, 33 percent of car accidents between 2005 and 2007 were a result of decision error, including things like driving too fast, making an illegal maneuver, or misjudging gaps in traffic.
One way to combat this anger is by meditating. While you can’t completely Zen out, you can practice taking deep breaths and repeating a calming mantra. Focus on letting all thoughts drift out of your mind and let your breath ease and soothe your emotions.
3. Keep Your Vehicle Maintained
Blowing out a tire, losing traction, or running out of gas in the middle of the highway are all extremely dangerous situations. Luckily, most of these things can be prevented by performing routine maintenance on your car.
Once a month, give your car a checkup to make sure everything is in line. Top off your fluids, inspect your tires, and check your oil. It may seem like overkill, but it could save your life.
4. Wear Sunglasses
We’ve all been there — you’re driving down the road, and all of a sudden, an extreme blast of sunlight hits you right in the face. You’re temporarily blinded as your eyes adjust, and you can’t even see the car in front of you.
Don’t let this situation become a deadly accident. Always keep a pair of sunglasses handy so that those sunrises and sunsets aren’t a surprise.
These are just a few ways to stay safe on the road during rush hour. What other tips do you have for making your commute safer?
- “Time of Day and Demographic Perspective Of Fatal Alcohol-Impaired-Driving Crashes.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Aug. 2011. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/811523.
- “Critical Reasons for Crashes Investigated in the National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey.” National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Feb. 2015. https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812115.