Six Safe Driving Resolutions for 2021

Jan 6, 2021

Lives can change forever in a split second. That’s especially true when you get behind the wheel of a vehicle and must navigate roadways littered with increasingly distracted drivers. Fortunately, there are several—or, for the purposes of this article, six—steps you can take to be as safe as possible while driving, both for yourself and those with whom you share the road. We’re sharing rules our professional truck drivers live by as they travel thousands of miles each year. Safety Focus in one of Ruan’s Guiding Principles, and it’s important to equip our driving team members with the resources they need to get home safely to their families.

Follow these resolutions for a safe 2021—and many years to come.

  1. Take care of yourself. Good health and personal fitness are critical to guaranteeing you are focused and engaged in driving. Getting a good night’s sleep and feeling well are things only you can determine and control. Driver fatigue could result in falling asleep at the wheel or cause errors like inattention, which endangers you and other motorists. Fine steering movements can become erratic, and then steering inputs fade all together. Most fatigue crashes involve a drift-out-of-lane scenario where the vehicle departs the roadway, which could result in personal injuries or even death—and not only to you, but to others you may impact while leaving your lane.

  2. Wear your seatbelt. This should be a no-brainer, but millions of motorists go unbuckled behind the wheel. Buckling up helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle, whereas not wearing a seatbelt can result in you being totally ejected from the vehicle in a crash, which is almost always deadly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And, if you wear your seatbelt in the front seat of a vehicle, you can reduce your risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. Worth it, right?!

  3. Eliminate distractions. Get a new smart phone for Christmas? Great! Just enjoy it while you’re NOT driving. The first thing you should do when entering your vehicle and before driving is putting your cell phone out of reach. If you need to use it for navigation, enter the address before you begin driving and mount it in a device holder. Set your radio station before you head out, and work to eliminate any other distractions.

  4. Maintain proper following distance! Everyone has his or her own idea of what proper following distance is, but the number of rear-end crashes that occur every day indicates that many drivers are wrong. By maintaining a proper following distance, you give yourself valuable time and space to safely react when the traffic in front of you unexpectedly stops or slows. So what is proper following distance? The Department of Transportation (DOT) recommends that for every 10 feet of vehicle length, you need at least one second of following distance. Most tractor trailers, for instance, need seven seconds of following distance. This is relevant for good conditions. But if you experience inclement weather, if it is dark out, if you’re in a construction zone, or have a longer combination vehicle, add more time to your following distance. To check following distance, pick out a stationary object down the road. When the rear of the vehicle in front of you passes that object, start counting “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three, etc.” until you have reached the stationary object.

  5. Be especially mindful at intersections. Intersection crashes occur frequently and happen not only in city driving situations, but also in rural communities. They are some of the most severe crashes to be involved in because smaller vehicles have little protection if they get T-boned, even with side-curtain airbags. These crashes occur for several reasons. The intersection may be uncontrolled, a driver could misread or fail to see a control sign or signal, or a driver could misread or fail to see other traffic. Remember, even if you have a green light, you still should assess the intersection. When you approach an intersection, look to the left, to the right, and then to the left again. Don’t just look; see. Look deep to observe vehicles approaching the intersection and if they are responding in the proper manner. Look shallow to see where vehicles are stopped or soon will be stopped before entering the intersection. If you see vehicles not responding as expected as you move toward an intersection, cover the brake, and if they still do not respond as you approach, begin braking until they stop or they clear the intersection—this may prevent you from being hit by a distracted or impaired driver.

  6. Simply put—slower is safer! NHTSA approximates that speed is a factor in 15 percent of all crashes and 30 percent of all fatal crashes. Operating your vehicle at a speed that is right for the conditions is one of the most important factors in safe driving. Going over the speed limit is not worth the price of a ticket and other potential consequences. You must also adjust your speed for conditions. Approaching a curve or ramp? Slow down. Inclement weather? Slow down. Bad weather? Slow down, a lot! Road construction? Slow down.

As a driver, you must be prepared for every possible circumstance that could happen at any given time. Follow these tips used by our professional drivers to help you return home safely each day to your friends and family—and for those with whom you share the road to do the same.