Five driving tips that could save your life

tombstone_RIP-125Your car has thousands of dollars in safety equipment, from seat belts and air bags to, perhaps, automatic brake drying and even collision avoidance braking. They’re all worthwhile, certainly, but here are five simple no-cost ways avoid collisions and maybe even save your life:

Do a good turn daily  When waiting to make a left turn against oncoming traffic, don’t point your car or turn your wheels in the direction you wish to go until it is time for you to actually go. Why? Because if you are even tapped from behind, your car could be bumped into a head-on collision with traffic coming towards you. Even better, if you stay back a short distance from the actual turning point, you can allow the car to roll forward as a gap in the traffic approaches so that you’re already moving when it’s time to move across the traffic.

Be a flasher  The best time to use your turn signal is when there aren’t other cars around. Or at least when you don’t think there are other cars around. Your signaling can let the another driver warn you—that’s what the button in the center of the steering wheel is for—or avoid you if you come on anyway. Think of it like a gun. Always treat a gun, even it it’s not loaded, as if it’s ready to be fired: The most dangerous gun is the one that “wasn’t loaded.”

Look the other way  At a one-way street? Don’t assume that everyone on that street knows that street is indeed one way, or at least knows which one way that one-way street is going. A glance in the “wrong” direction can save you from pulling out into a T-bone collision, with you on the ugly end of that confrontation. And all it takes is a look that’s less than a second.

Light up your life  A study was performed in Wisconsin in the 1970s, and the surprising—not—conclusion was that white cars are in more collisions in the winter, and dark-colored cars more in summer. It’s a well duh finding: white cars disappear against a snowy background but stand out more against the darker shades of summer, and vice versa. It’s the kind of findings that has led some manufacturers to have daytime running lights standard equipment and make them mandatory in Canada. Headlights do more than help you see. They help you be seen.

What’s in a name?  Something: parking lights are for parking, not driving. Otherwise they’d be called driving lights. Although it would seem that parking lights would make a car more visible—see daytime running lights above—researchers found that a car driving with just its parking lights on was judged to be further away than a car with its headlights on, and counterintuitively even further away than a car with no lights on at all.