Do you set New Year’s resolutions? Even though we’ve all read the statistics on the propensity for giving up our resolutions within a few weeks, there’s still that urge to make them anyway. We have a desire to change, and we hope this is the year we’ll stay motivated to follow through.
I believe that one reason so many resolutions fail is that they are only framed negatively. We don’t like something in our lives, so we set a goal to change it. How often do we actually think about the positives of that goal? It’s more than about changing what’s wrong. To accomplish a resolution, we need to think about what we will like about the final result. If you’re already struggling with your resolutions, try thinking about it this way:
“I want to change X, so my resolution is to do Y, so that I can achieve Z.”
This year, I challenge all of my students and their families to set 10 Safe Driving Resolutions with this positive framing in mind. The negative consequences of careless driving such as tickets, crashes, and injuries are really important to consider. But let’s also focus on the positives of creating a better world for the people you love and total strangers because you are resolved to be a safe driver.
#1 - Put the Phone Down
It is physically impossible to pay attention to driving when you take your eyes off the road to look at your phone. If you feel the urge to use your phone while driving, who or what is really in control? Phones are tools, but when we put aside safety to tend to them, they quickly become our masters. This year, set a resolution that you need to be in full control of yourself when driving, and let your phone take a back seat. With this one change, you will create safer road conditions and set an example for your passengers.
#2 - Watch Your Speed
Speed limits are maximum limits, not minimum guidelines. Speeding is illegal, creates unsafe conditions, and it puts pressure on other drivers to also speed. By resolving to drive within the legal speed limit, and sticking to it, you will do your part to maintain safe roads and highways. When you make a commitment to avoid speeding, remember that you’re also committing to giving yourself enough time to get where you need to go every time you get behind the wheel.
#3 - Stay Attentive & Watch Your Surroundings
It’s easy to go on autopilot when traveling a familiar route every day. Nothing ever happens, so you just go through the motions…until the day something does happen. If you’re stuck in a driving rut, and you often realize that you can’t remember the last several minutes of your trip, resolve to get out of that bad autopilot habit. Try changing your route every few days, or set a goal to remember certain details. Another way to stay aware of your surroundings is to verbalize them. “The red sedan will reach that 4-way stop sign before me, so they will have the right of way.” Short conversations with yourself about the rules of the road will help you stay attentive and safe for other drivers.
#4 - Keep Distractions to a Minimum
Driving with fewer distractions will not only help you be a safe driver, but it will also allow you to set an example for the passengers in your car. Don’t be afraid to turn down the radio, ask passengers to quiet down, or verbalize your need to concentrate. Driving is serious business, and it’s your job to make sure everyone else in the car gets safely wherever you’re going. Help them understand their responsibility for safety even as passengers.
#5 - Don’t Drive Drowsy
Drowsy driving is impaired driving. When you’re overly tired, reaction times are slower and it’s difficult to pay attention to the road. In many ways, driving drowsy is the same as driving under the influence of a substance. Resolve to get enough sleep and avoid getting behind the wheel when you’re simply too tired to drive. While this may be inconvenient, it may also save lives.
#6 - Follow Work Zone Speed Limits
No one likes roadwork, but it must be done, and all workers on our roads and highways have a right to do their jobs safely. Lower speed limits in work zones help ensure worker safety, and that should be every driver’s priority. These lower limits are also intended to help drivers respond better to the modified conditions. Promote safety for other drivers and roadwork employees by resolving to obey work zone speed limits at all times.
#7 - Share the Road with Bicyclists and Motorcyclists
Cars may outnumber all other vehicles on the road, but those vehicles and their drivers have the same right to use the roads safely. Every car driver has a responsibility to share the road with enough room for unprotected 2-wheel riders to operate. It’s important to be conscious of who is at most risk of injury in a car to bicycle or motorcycle incident and act accordingly. Resolve to promote safety for everyone using the road by respecting riders.
#8 - Always Wear Your Seatbelt
There is so much irrefutable proof that seatbelts save lives that wearing them should be a hard-coded habit for everyone who ever gets into a car. And yet, we continue to see news reports of preventable deaths or injuries because someone wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. Whether you are driving around the block or across the country, wear your seatbelt, and do not put the car in drive until everyone in your car is wearing theirs as well.
#9 - Obey Traffic Lights Every Time
Testing the limits of red light adherence is a bad habit that gets progressively worse. When drivers regularly push through yellow lights, they will eventually start pushing through red lights as well. Not only is this illegal, but drivers who do it will take more serious risks over time. Running red lights catches up to every driver at some point by resulting in either a ticket or an at-fault crash. Resolve to have respect for the law and every other driver on the road by obeying traffic lights consistently and properly.
#10 - Change Driving Habits in Bad Weather
Bad weather rarely stops us from having to go to work or school, but it should cause us to drive differently. If you think having to drive slowly or cautiously in heavy rain or snow is inconvenient, just imagine having to stand outside your car in the same conditions after an accident. No one has control over the weather, but we can all resolve to practice self-control in how we drive in bad weather.
One way to get serious about sticking to your driving resolutions and creating safe driving habits is to enlist the help of a professional. With Safe Driving Lessons from one of our coaches, you’ll have the accountability and support you need to turn your resolutions into a lifetime commitment to safety.