As memories of your driving school days get smaller and smaller in your rear-view mirror, it’s easy to pick up bad driving habits and forget some of the basics. While enhanced safety features (like blind spot sensors and automatic braking systems) can make driving a newer vehicle feel like a breeze, it’s still important to follow the rules of the road to avoid a collision. Keep these five basics in mind next time you hit the road:
1. Drive for the conditions of the road. Posted speed limits don’t change based on traffic and weather conditions, but the way you’re driving should. If the roads are busier than usual or covered in snow, adjust your speed accordingly and proceed with caution.
2. When parked on a hill, turn your steering wheel to prevent your car from rolling. When you’re parking on a hill, engage your parking brake and turn your steering wheel all the way to the left when you’re parked facing uphill and to the right when you’re facing downhill. This way, your vehicle will roll towards the curb (instead of into oncoming traffic) if it shifts out of park or is hit from behind by another driver.
3. Signal your intent when exiting a roundabout. As daunting as they may seem, roundabouts function best when drivers navigate them properly and follow some simple rules. One of the most commonly forgotten rules is to use your right signal to let other drivers know that you’re ready to exit the roundabout, no matter which exit you’re taking.
4. Remember who has the right of way at a four-way stop or when a traffic light is out. There are two things to keep in mind at a four-way stop or a non-functioning traffic light: 1) People get to pass through the intersection in the order in which they arrive — so the first vehicle, pedestrian, or cyclist to stop at the intersection has the right of way. 2) If multiple people arrive at the intersection at the same time, they should pass though in a clockwise order — so the driver, pedestrian, or cyclist to your right goes first.
5. Don’t drive distracted. Accidents can happen fast, so driving requires your undivided attention. Activities like texting, eating, or checking your GPS can not only distract you, but they can also lead to collisions or careless driving charges. Before you hit the gas, it’s a good idea to prepare your GPS, put your phone on silent and out of sight, and set the radio to your favorite station so you aren’t tempted to take your eyes off the road.