There are few things that the law takes more seriously than sobriety behind the wheel, and for good reason. The consequences of intoxicated driving are ones that society has been trying to do away with for years. Most nations across the globe have legalities in place to penalize those who drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Anyone driving in the United States or Canada is aware that there is very little, if any tolerance at all, for impaired driving.
The reason for this legislation is obvious. Impaired driving has brought about more tragedy than anyone could have realized it would. The fatalities and injuries caused by impaired driving are as high in numbers as that of an incurable disease. The strife inflicted on victims of impaired driving and their families is unspeakable. Impaired drivers do not typically injure themselves on the road because their bodies are loosened up under the influence of a substance. But the drivers and pedestrians they collide with are tense with fear and frequently sustain serious or even fatal injuries.
It is very important for every driver to make a commitment to never drive impaired, for their sake and for the sake of the people they share the road with. It is very easy to forget this commitment when you have had a few drinks and feel like you are fully capable of operating a vehicle. However, you never know when traffic will require a split second decision from you that could mean the difference between life and death. When that moment arrives, you will need all of your mental clarity, and you cannot afford to be even slightly impaired.
When it comes to sober driving, strive to be part of the solution, not part of the problem. Concern for people’s safety, your own and those around you, should be motivation enough for you to stay clear headed behind the wheel, but if it is not, consider the legal consequences of driving under the influence. Most jurisdictions have very strict laws governing the amount of alcohol one can consume before operating a vehicle, and no tolerance at all for drug use anytime, but particularly while driving. One can expect to serve jail time and pay a hefty fine if caught driving while intoxicated.
Good driving is not a commitment one makes lightly. Most teenagers get their licenses only thinking about the rewards and freedoms of driving, seldom of the consequences. If they had the driving experience they will gain over a number of years on the day they got their licenses, their approach to driving would be far different. In order to be a good driver, one needs to commit to the task on several levels. Good driving means making a commitment to staying informed, staying alert and keeping up with vehicle maintenance.
Staying informed as a driver means keeping yourself up to date on driving requirements and laws, as they are prone to change. Road legalities stay the same in general, but the specifics of road rules can change over time, and one should always keep up to date with their local motor division office through the mail or the internet to stay current on driving legislation. Vehicle insurance, conduct with a police officer and driving requirements can all be legally adjusted over night.
The importance of staying alert as a driver cannot be overstated. Operating a vehicle can cause injury and death when mishandled. It is not something anyone is intended to do without good mental clarity. A driver should always be energetic, focused, attentive and calm behind the wheel. They should always be well rested and never tired. It is never a good idea to drive emotional, so be sure to pull over if you are feeling emotionally disturbed. Never drive while under the influence of a mind or chemistry altering substance, such as alcohol or drugs.
And lastly, a vehicle must be properly maintained in order to be safe to its driver and safe to the other drivers on the road. Vehicles must pass regular safety inspections and comply to set legalities in order to be road legal. Vehicles are only able to pass inspections if they have been properly maintained, meaning all fluid levels were kept clean and full, brake pads were replaced, tires were rotated and periodically replaced and all other services the car required were kept up to date.
An absolute essential to responsible driving is staying alert on the road. This means staying sober, awake and putting aside distractions. We have a tendency to justify anything we do by pointing to how busy and important we are. But no amount of arguing or reasoning will convince a police officer that you are justified in driving drunk, tired or while you are sending text messages. This is blatantly irresponsible behavior that can result in an arrest, or even worse, in harm to someone innocent of blame. Anyone who gets behind a wheel needs to respect that staying alert is not just their legal responsibility, it is their human responsibility.
Sobriety is the most obvious necessity to staying alert. Every driver’s education program and high school driving class shows videos of what happens when people drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol. It is seldom the driver who pays the price, but rather the innocent party involved in the crash who suffers. Every jurisdiction sets a legal limit for how much alcohol can be found in a person’s blood stream when they are operating a vehicle.
Recently, traffic laws began recognizing tiredness as being as dangerous to driving as intoxication is in many ways. When you drive tired, you are only half as alert as you usually are. This delays your reaction time and makes your decision making foggy. Most drivers have driven tired at some point, but it is a dangerous and costly habit to be in. It is likely to catch up to you at some point.
Driving distracted is another deadly error that drivers make. Drivers can be distracted in a number of ways, ranging from cell phone use to eating to putting on make up and much more. Anything that removes the driver’s hands from the wheel or takes their focus away from the road can prove deadly.
A very important aspect of responsible driving is being an informed driver. It is essential to the safety of yourself and of other drivers that you take your driving education seriously. You are expected to know the driving laws of anywhere you drive through, and you are expected to know how to operate all of the basic components of your vehicle. You can be held legally responsible for this information by law enforcement, which should indicate to you how critical it is that you know it.
Basic driving laws are the same throughout North America. Driving laws in Mexico are somewhat less regulated, but operate under the same basic principles as the rest of North America. The United States and Canada have driving laws that are almost identical, but different states and provinces are still free to have variations on those laws. The law enforcement agencies of different jurisdictions are not out to ensnare anyone with oddball driving laws, but they do expect every driver to abide by the driving laws of all jurisdictions.
Understanding your vehicle’s basic components is also very important to being an informed driver. There are features in your vehicle that are meant to assist you in almost any situation you can encounter on the road. It is important to your abilities as a driver that you understand how to use these features. For example, you should know what situations call for hazard lights and how to switch them on. You should know when to change gears to make the best use of your vehicles’s transmission. This includes knowledge of what to do in emergency situations, such as knowing to turn your wheel into a slide rather than turning against it.
If you are going to be a vehicle owner, it is best for yourself and everyone else on the road that you possess some kind of basic mechanical knowledge of your vehicle. Unfortunately, a large number of drivers on the road understand nothing about how their vehicles work. They have no way of anticipating any mechanical issues that they will encounter and are therefore a larger risk to themselves and to other drivers, even if only in a small way. Having the money to pay someone else to repair your car is not a replacement for a reasonable level of responsibility over how your car is operating, or for being aware that your car requires basic, ongoing maintenance. There is not a great deal of knowledge one needs to personally possess about how their car operates, but there are a handful of must know items.
Firstly, know that your vehicle needs its fluids checked regularly, especially before any kind of long drive. The most vital fluids to your vehicle are oil, power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and windshield spray. When you lift your hood, these fluids should be labeled fairly clearly. There are methods to understanding which fluids need to be changed and which are too low, which you can learn about by watching online tutorial videos.
There are many moving parts in your vehicle that need regular inspection, and often you can tell if something is wrong by watching for engine lights and listening for unknown sounds. But one aspect of your vehicle that you cannot afford to neglect, particularly before a long drive, are your tires. Never take off on a big drive without first testing your tire pressure. In a perfect world, everyone would know how much tread is on their tires and would have them replaced before they became worn too thin, but the least a responsible driver can do is check their tires with an air pressure gauge to make sure they have enough air in them, and to monitor the rate at which they are losing air.
Everyday, we trust other people on the roads with our lives as we drive our daily commutes. Because driving is so commonplace, it often slips our minds to be diligent about driving safety. But when we hear statistics about how driving is more dangerous than flying and how most automobile deaths occur within one mile of the home, we are reminded to take driving safety very seriously. Here are some basic safety tips to keep in mind while on the road or preparing to go on the road.
First and foremost, before you set out on the road, it is imperative that you know your car is in working order. Even the best driver can put themselves and others in danger if their vehicle breaks down due to improper maintenance. For proper longterm vehicle maintenance, be sure to keep up on oil changes, fluid checks, tire rotations and replacements, break inspections and tune ups with a trusted automechanic. Before any long drives, be sure to check your tire pressure and oil to make sure nothing is impairing your vehicle’s performance.
Another large part of a driver’s responsibility is their education and preparedness for road rules and emergencies. Think ahead to emergency situations and keep emergency supplies stored in your vehicle, such as jumper cables to restart a dead battery. Take the time to read up on road rules and traffic laws, both at the national and regional level, to know what is required of you in any given driving situation.
And lastly, it is very important to make wise personal decisions when you are actually behind the wheel of a car. Never drive impaired due to tiredness or being under the influence of a substance. Never drive under the influence of alcohol and drug abuse help, and always pull over and rest if you are feeling tired. Stay alert and focused on the road. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by passengers, cell phones, music or other activities. The safety of you and others on the road depend on your decisions.