Whether you’re driving alone or with passengers, safety should always be your top concern. With more distractions than ever, it’s crucial that drivers know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time they’re behind the wheel. Here are some auto safety tips to follow on the road.

Driving safety tips from Nationwide

  • Don’t allow children to fight or climb around in your car (they should be buckled in their seats at all times). One accidental bump or too much noise can easily distract you from concentrating on driving safely.
  • Cell phones can also take your focus away from the task at hand: arriving safely at your destination. Learn more about the under-reporting of cell phone involvement in fatal car crashes at Nationwide’s blog: In the Nation.
  • Avoid driving when you’re tired. Be aware that some medications can cause drowsiness and make operating a vehicle very dangerous. Get the full scoop on drowsy driving.
  • Always use caution when changing lanes. Cutting in front of someone, changing lanes too fast or not using your signals may cause an accident or upset other drivers.
  • Take extra precautions while driving during deer season.

Common Questions About Safe Driving

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What should I do after a car accident?

If you’re involved in an accident, first make sure no one in the car is injured. Next, check on the passengers in the other vehicle; or, if necessary, make certain that no pedestrians are hurt.

Then, take these five things into account:

  1. Stay at the scene. Leaving can result in additional violations or fines.
  2. Call 911 or the police as soon as possible. They’ll dispatch medical personnel and a police officer immediately to the scene of the accident. Wait for the police to complete an accident report.
  3. If you’re on a busy highway, stay inside the car and wait for the police or an ambulance. It’s dangerous if passengers stand along a busy street.
  4. Don’t get into an argument or a fight with the other driver. Simply exchange contact and insurance information. If possible, also get the name and phone numbers of witnesses.
  5. Call your insurance provider to report the claim. Your agent will ask you to send any paperwork you receive regarding the accident and will give you instructions as to where you can get your car fixed.

Find out more about what to do after an accident and what to do after a hit-and-run.

What to do when pulled over

If you notice that a police car is following you with its emergency lights flashing, pull over to the side of the road safely and quickly. Wait inside your car for the officer to approach and talk with you and be prepared to:

  • Turn on your interior light at night and keep your hands where the officer can see them, preferably on the steering wheel.
  • Don’t reach under your seat or into your glove box. This may cause the officer to think you’re reaching for a weapon or hiding something.
  • Give your license and registration to the officer if asked to do so. If the officer asks you to step out of your car, do so without sudden or threatening movements.
  • Stay calm − don’t become argumentative, disorderly or abusive − and never attempt to bribe the officer.
  • If a citation is issued, present your story in traffic court if you feel you’ve been unfairly treated. You may be represented by a lawyer and, if necessary, you’ll be heard by a judge or magistrate.

What should I know about speeding and other traffic laws?

Some roadways are designated as low-speed zones. These might include roads in areas with high pedestrian traffic, such as school zones and streets that have many intersections. Driving over the speed limit can put you and others at risk of harm.

6 things that will keep you safe and help you avoid a ticket:

  1. Never pass a stopped bus displaying a stop sign to its left; that’s a signal that children are crossing the street.
  2. If you hear a siren coming behind you, it’s an indication that a police or fire truck is speeding by you, toward an emergency. If it is safe, pull to the side, stop and wait until the vehicle goes by.
  3. Horn honking is reserved for emergencies. It’s considered rude to use your horn for any other situation.
  4. Completely stop at stop signs and look for other drivers and pedestrians before you cross.
  5. Use care when parking your vehicle. Always look for tow away zone or handicapped signs, as these areas are reserved for vehicles with special permits. Also, certain streets may have parking restrictions, and failing to follow instructions at a parking meter may result in a fine.
  6. Obey the posted speed limit at all times. Speeding tickets are costly, and penalties for speeding can include fines, court appearances and loss or suspension of your driving privileges. Also, depending on your insurance policy, speeding tickets can impact your rates.

Some of the variables that may affect safe driving, like the weather, can’t be controlled. However, by staying alert, taking precautions, and following our safe driving tips you can avoid potential car accidents and tickets.

What is DUI? What is DWI?

  • It’s a simple fact: drinking and driving kills people. Driving after drinking alcohol is known as Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI).
  • Some drivers may think that just a few drinks makes it safe to drive – but don’t forget that “buzzed driving” is drunk driving and can be just as dangerous.
  • A DUI arrest can lead to expensive consequences, including spending time in jail, having your driver’s license suspended or taken away and fines. If you hit and/or kill someone while you are driving impaired, the consequences are even worse.
  • It’s also illegal to have an open container of alcohol in your car. If you’re transporting alcoholic beverages, they should be sealed and in the trunk.
  • All 50 states have now set .08% Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) as the legal limit for Driving Under the Influence, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). For commercial drivers, a BAC of .04% can result in a DUI conviction in all states. For those under 21, there is a zero tolerance limit; any amount of alcohol is grounds for a DUI arrest.
  • In some cities, law enforcement officials set up sobriety checkpoints along the road to deter and identify impaired drivers. Checkpoints are typically set up during holiday weekends or on dates when there might be an increase in drinking and driving. If you’re stopped at a checkpoint, you’ll be asked several questions and might be asked to perform a sobriety test (like saying the ABC’s backwards, performing some physical movements or breathing into an alcohol sensor). If these tests show that you have high alcohol levels, the police may arrest you.

What winter driving tips should I know?

  • First of all, buckle up. Basic car safety encourages the use of seat belts and car seats at all times. They’re one of your best defenses in a crash. And it’s the law.
  • Winter can bring snow, freezing rain and slush, which all make driving hazardous. Use extra caution in areas that ice up quickly, especially intersections, shaded areas, bridges and overpasses.
  • Since the winter season can bring all sorts of weather surprises, regularly check weather reports on TV or radio so you can prepare for bad weather. On severe weather days, schools and workplaces might close or delay opening. Consider staying at home if you don’t need to be on the road.
  • Make sure you keep an emergency kit in the trunk of your car, including blankets, a first aid kit, and jumper cables. Include some food and water in your emergency kit, make sure your cell phone is fully charged and that your car always has a full tank of gas. Check out the full list of 12 items to have in your emergency car kit.