Driving Safety Tips All Commuters Should Know

Living near Seattle, I know people who commute three, four, even five hours a day. But if you ask what they do for a living, they never say 75 percent computer geek and 25 percent driver.

Even though we don't drive for a living, many of us log thousands of miles a year back and forth to our jobs. In fact, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death on the job. (Yes, that's a real stat!

Would you Pass?

My niece was getting ready for her driver's test and I was grilling her for the written portion. I was surprised how many things had changed since I got my license.

Did you know . . .  

  • Your hands DO NOT go at 10 and 2 any more. They should rest at 9 and 3. My niece says it's because air bags are more likely break your arms at 10 and 2. I'm wasn't sure if that's correct, but it's enough to get me to hold my hands lower.
  • There are things called "no zones" and as you probably guessed, you need to stay out of them. Back in the day, the "no zones" were called "big truck blind spots." And they are still directly in front and behind the truck, right by the driver's door and the entire length of the passenger side.
  • The yellow light before a red light is more about stopping than speeding up. "If the signal exhibits a steady yellow indication the vehicle shall stop unless you cannot do so safely."
  • You can get a ticket in some states for dangling things off your rearview mirror. It obstructs your vision.
  • If someone slows, do not pass them, assume they are going to turn and are not using their blinker lights. 

Things to Brush Up On

There are lots of things to brush up on, besides just traffic laws. For example:

  • Can you change a tire? 
  • Could you find your manual in print or online?
  • Do you know what breakdown procedures are?
  • Do you know the difference between rural and city driving?

If you or those you work with need a vehicle refresher course, you may want to check out Driving Safety. It covers things like passing, driving at night, handling bad weather, distracted driving and even road rage. 

The bottom line is, be safe. Brush up on your knowledge and please don't become a sobering stat. 

Diane Mettler has been a manager for nearly 20 years. She's also a freelance writer and editor—with hundreds of her articles published in a variety of magazines—and teaches writing at the University of Washington.