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A guide to driving safety: Information, resources, & technology

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Driving is an important part of daily life — whether it’s commuting to work, running errands or visiting loved ones. However, driving also carries with it a certain amount of risk. Things like distracted or inexperienced drivers, speeding, and drowsy driving make up just a few of the potentially dangerous situations that pose a risk to everyone on the road. Personal responsibility is a key aspect of driving safety, and one should always follow all relevant safety regulations and guidelines.

Understanding what rules and potential dangers exist can help make the road a safer place for everyone.

Legislation and programs regarding driver safety

While some federal regulations exist to govern driving, many of the most prevalent laws are policies of individual states. These laws have been established with driver safety in mind. However, just like the laws themselves, the fines and repercussions for violating these laws vary by state.

Seatbelt Laws

Though we strive to be safe on the road and avoid accidents, the possibility of a collision is always present. Whether local laws require it or not, seatbelt use can prevent serious injuries, such as preventing a passenger from ejecting from the vehicle during a collision, or lessening the impact from an airbag.

Buckling up is a quick, easy step to take — whether you are a driver or a passenger — and it may just save your life. Children who are too small or too young to safely use a seat belt, must use a properly secured safety seat.

Bans on cell phone use

Many states have laws regarding cell phone use while driving. While no state completely bans all cell phone use for all drivers, most ban all cell phone use by novice drivers and the 48 states and Washington D.C. ban  texting while driving. and

While the best policy is to avoid using your cell phone while driving, it’s a good idea to understand your state’s laws, as well as any states you may be passing through or visiting while traveling.

Graduated driver's license systems

In addition, all drivers are required to pass through a series of milestones in accordance with Graduated Drivers License (GDL) laws. These laws present another way to keep roads safe by limiting the driving privileges of those just learning. In this way, a new driver can gradually gain driving experience before being given a full run of the road, thus limiting the chances of a dangerous situation from occurring to them and those around them. New drivers begin with a learner’s permit, and after meeting experience requirements, they can apply for a full license.

Common safety concerns and issues for drivers

There is an inherent danger in driving, but by recognizing some key factors that lead to collisions and injuries, you can help reduce your chances of experiencing them in the first place. While some of these may seem like common sense, others require a more conscious effort to avoid.

Obeying the speed limit

Following posted speed limits is one of the most obvious, but also most effective ways to reduce driving danger. While increased familiarity with a road may cause drivers to question the speed limit and feel more comfortable exceeding it, it’s important to realize that speed limits are set for a reason.

In fact, in adverse weather conditions, even driving the speed limit may be too fast to safely handle your vehicle. Slick roads and poor visibility may make driving the typical speed limit dangerous, so slowing down is one of the important ways to stay safe in winter weather. When in doubt, always drive the speed that feels the safest for the current road conditions. 

Cell phone use

So much of the communication we do these days is through our cell phones. It can almost feel like second nature to check our text messages as soon as we receive them, even in a situation like driving where your focus is critical. 

To help combat these urges, one of the best solutions is to remove the temptation entirely. In addition, using an app to block texting capabilities while you’re on the road may be just what it takes to break the habit.

Other distractions in the car

In addition to cell phones, a car can contain many distractions that lead to accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2021, distracted driving cost the lives of 3,522 people. Anything that can shift the driver’s focus from the road, for even a second or two, can lead to problems. The CDC defines three types of distractions, which often combine, making the distraction worse:

  • Visual distractions: These consist of anything that takes your eyes off the road. Reading a text message, looking at pictures on a passenger’s phone or looking at the floor for something you’ve dropped are all examples of visual distractions.
  • Manual distractions: Eating, changing radio stations, tinkering with your phone to connect to Bluetooth, and other activities that take your hands off the wheel all demonstrate manual distractions.
  • Cognitive distractions: These include anything that takes your mind off of driving. Talking to passengers, experiencing mental distress, or talking on the phone could all be sources of cognitive distraction.

It’s a good idea to remain mindful of and minimize potential sources of distraction in your car as you drive, and make a conscious effort to avoid them. If you must eat, pull safely into a parking space before doing so. Avoid passenger distractions by politely telling them you’ll look at their photos when you stop.

Driving while drowsy

Driving while tired or drowsy poses a big driving risk, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2017, an estimated 91,000 police-reported accidents involved drowsy drivers. Falling asleep for even a few seconds could be all it takes to cause an accident.

The CDC recommends some tips for avoiding common causes of drowsy driving:

  • Commit to a healthy sleeping schedule: Remember that adults should get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and teens should get eight. Keeping a regular sleep schedule helps make sure you always feel rested and alert.
  • Recognize signs of drowsy driving: Stay aware of frequent yawning or blinking, difficulty remembering the previous few miles of driving and drifting out of your lane. These are all potential signs that you should find somewhere to pull off and rest before finishing your drive.
  • Avoid taking medicine that makes you drowsy before a drive: Some medications have the side effects of drowsiness. Many of these warn the user not to operate vehicles or heavy machinery while under their effects.

Health concerns that affect driving

In addition to these safety concerns, you should also consider how your current health may affect your driving safety. You should consider all facets of your health, including physical impairments, mental health issues and other age-related effects.


As we age, our bodies experience changes that can affect our driving abilities in several ways. Muscle aches and pains can affect our range of motion in the car. For instance, an aching neck makes it more difficult to look around comfortably, effectively increasing blind spots. 

In addition, the older we get, the risk of developing cognitive disorders like dementia and Alzheimer’s increases as well, which can impact driving ability. To evaluate how both mental and physical ailments related to age affect driving ability, many states require drivers to take a driver’s test after a certain age. 

Visual or hearing impairments

Visual and hearing impairments make it hard to get an accurate picture of road conditions. Drivers with hearing impairment may find they need to focus more on the road and they may find themselves more susceptible to distractions. Visually impaired drivers may need to use corrective lenses, or employ the use of self-driving technology to augment their ability.


All states have policies regarding driver’s licenses for those with medical conditions such as those that cause seizures. For example, a person suffering from epilepsy may be required to submit medical reports to confirm their eligibility to drive.


Drivers suffering from PTSD may experience many triggers while driving around. From flashing lights to loud noises, to fast-moving objects, driving can present a constant onslaught of stressors. These drivers may seek treatment or counseling, or make efforts like avoiding driving through busy roads during rush hour.

Preventing accidents

In addition to following road safety guidelines, there are some other proactive measures that drivers can take to prevent accidents. A combination of technology along with practical driving skills can help drivers stay as safe as possible.

Utilizing safety technology for driving

Technology continues to provide new ways to improve car safety.

  • Car Health Monitors: These devices connect to your car, and provide diagnostic information about the car’s health. They can alert the driver to needed maintenance, potential issues, and more.
  • Crash Response Systems: These systems provide a convenient or even automatic way to contact emergency services in the event of a crash.
  • Apps: Several car safety apps do tasks like recording safe driving habits, and awarding points for responsible behavior, which adds an extra incentive to driving safely. Other apps can also alert drivers to road closures or unsafe road conditions in the event of inclement weather.

It is even possible to find apps that work together with a car-mounted device to serve as car health monitors and crash response systems while providing information like driving history, speed alerts and more.

Defensive driving techniques

A key component to being safe on the road is awareness. In addition to following laws and avoiding distractions, keeping some defensive driving fundamentals in mind is a great habit to get into.

  • Stay alert: Keep an awareness of the conditions around you. Specifically, pay attention to the cars driving in front or behind you. Look out for pedestrians, or drivers that are behaving aggressively. Recognizing these conditions is the first step in reacting to them, should you need to.
  • Drive predictably: Taking actions like using turn signals, and slowing down gradually can help other drivers see what you are about to do on the road. This helps give them plenty of time to react.
  • Anticipate the worst-case scenario: In any driving situation, think about the worst outcome, and decide how you would react to it. For example, if you see someone quickly approaching a red light, imagine they are going to pass through it, and decide how to avoid that situation.

Consequences of safety violations

While violating driving safety laws carries immediate risks, it also poses some less immediate lasting effects.

  • Increased insurance rates: Certain citations, such as failure to control a vehicle, can demonstrate unsafe driving behavior to insurance companies. As such, you may see an increase in your insurance rates after a violation.
  • Infractions on driving records: When found guilty of a driving safety violation, it will likely be reflected on your record for at least a few years. More severe violations, like felonies, could remain for longer.
  • License suspension: Depending on the severity of the offense, the consequence could be license suspension. Breaking some obvious laws like driving under the influence could cause an immediate suspension, but even relatively minor offenses like speeding can result in points on a license, which could accumulate and result in a suspended license.

At-risk drivers

Although most of the driving dangers associated with driving have the potential to affect everyone who gets behind the wheel, it’s important to recognize that some portions of the population are more at-risk than others. New drivers, senior citizens and teens may all find different challenges with road safety for a variety of reasons, whether it be health-related or experience related. 

As a result, it’s best to prioritize safe driving practices at all times — whether you experience some of the risks associated with these groups or not.

Further reading for teen drivers

Further reading for senior drivers

Further reading for veterans driving

Resources for drivers with disabilities