Those who drive for a living would be the first to agree it can be mighty dangerous out there on California’s crowded roads. Although the common factors of inexperience, recklessness, and aggressive driving contribute to many vehicle accidents, it doesn’t explain why so many professional drivers get into accidents. A driver may be trained, experienced, and competent behind the wheel, but the very flood of vehicles competing for space on the roads today presents added danger to all drivers. Even the very best drivers must learn to operate their vehicles with life-saving extras.

Before starting the vehicle

Drivers should take extra care of their vehicles’ maintenance by keeping them in good operating condition. Before getting behind the wheel, do a simple walk around the vehicle to insure that tires are properly inflated and have good tread, check that lights are clear and working, and see that windshields are clean and wipers blades are sharp.

Once inside the vehicle, drivers should take the extra time to check the gas gauge, adjust the mirrors, seat, and seatbelt to a comfortable position and, if it’s an unfamiliar vehicle, locate the lights, brakes, and wipers. Horns, flasher lights, and other warning devices are not just accessories but vital parts of the extra safety built into any vehicle, so make sure they operate properly.

On the roadways

Be extra careful by driving defensively. Following the rules of the road can help you concentrate on what you should be doing…driving. Stay out of the other vehicle’s blind spot and avoid tailgating. Instead, keep a safe distance from other drivers by maintaining that extra safety cushion of driving space between your vehicle and those around you. As an extra precaution, know the condition of the weather and road and drive only as fast as those conditions allow.

Be extra cautious by staying alert and expecting the unexpected. Watch out for and anticipate other drivers, pedestrians or children on or near the road. Safe drivers scan constantly for hazards, predicting how they may be affected by a hazard and pre-determining how to avoid or reduce them.

The ever-changing variable of the road and other vehicles can make drivers instantly vulnerable to accidents. If drivers don’t practice these life-saving extras on the road, they might personally discover why vehicle deaths and serious injuries now total more than all the wartime wounded and fatalities since 1776.