If you’ve been driving for many years, you’re probably a confident driver thanks to experience. Even the most confident drivers make mistakes though, and it’s easy to let a bad habit develop if you’re never caught. Bad habits (like ‘forgetting’ to signal) aren’t just annoying to your fellow drivers, but many of them are dangerous - and illegal. Become a better driver in 2018 by making five simple resolutions that will keep you safe, save you money, and improve your experience behind the wheel.
Resolution #1: Get rid of distractions
Distracted driving is a leading cause of collisions in Canada. Data from Ontario shows that every half hour, someone is injured in a distracted-driving collision. Also included in this data is that a driver using their phone is four times more likely to be in a collision than a driver focused on the road. If you can’t resist the temptation to glance at your phone while driving, turn off your notifications and put your phone somewhere you can’t reach it - like in a bag in the backseat. If you need to make a call, use handsfree settings, but keep your conversation short - unlike chatting with a passenger, your friend on the phone won’t know when something is happening on the road that requires your attention.
Resolution #2: Prioritize maintenance
Keeping on top of your car’s regular maintenance - things like changing the oil, getting a car wash and checking your tire pressure - is one of the top ways that you can maintain its value and prevent future problems. If you’re not sure where to start, read your owner’s manual; it should have information on what you should be doing regularly to keep your car in tip-top condition.
To stay on top of maintenance, make it a no-brainer. After you get your oil changed, make your next appointment on the spot and put it right into your calendar. You can also add calendar reminders for monthly car washes - and make sure to check your tire pressure at the same time. And don’t forget to keep all your receipts for any of the work you’ve had done, it will help you get more value when it’s time to trade it in or sell it by demonstrating that your vehicle has been well cared for.
Resolution #3: Save money on car insurance
Your car insurance is one of those things you need, but hope you never have to use, which can make it a pain to pay for every month. You can’t get around it, but luckily you can make it cheaper by doing the following:
- Make 2018 the year that you shop around for car insurance before you renew your current plan. Different companies will offer different prices for the same car, so get at least three separate quotes before you choose a provider.
- Ask if you can get a discount by paying your entire premium for the year upfront, rather than in monthly installments.
- Decide whether it’s worth it to you to raise your deductible for a lower monthly premium; you’ll have to pay more if you make a claim, but you’ll save money if you don’t.
- Make sure you’re taking advantage of all available discounts. For example, you could get a discount for using winter tires, or a teen driver on your plan could get a discount for taking a drivers’ education course.
Resolution #4: Use less gas
Unless you’re driving an electric vehicle, paying for gas is another unfortunate necessity. But by making a few simple changes to your driving habits, you could make less trips to the gas station and save a little money. You’ll burn more gas if you’re driving fast and accelerating and braking quickly, so resolve to mind the speed limit, accelerate gently and give yourself plenty of time to slow down and brake steadily. Not only will this make you a safer driver, but you’ll save on gas.
When idling your car, you’re wasting gas. According to Natural Resources Canada, ten minutes of idling uses up to half a litre of fuel. Even just 10 seconds of idling uses more gas than restarting the car. So if you’re picking someone up or running into a store for a minute, turn your car off to save gas.
Resolution #5: Calm down
If you’re prone to roadrage, it’s time for an attitude adjustment. Research reported by one expert shows that drivers who show signs of aggression - even for things as mild as giving someone the finger - had a higher chance of being in a collision than drivers who didn’t. If you’re one of the two-thirds of people who admit to aggressive behaviour behind the wheel, you can take some steps to calm down.
- Leave yourself enough time to get to your destination so that you’re not stressed about being late.
- Keep on top of regulating your emotions throughout the day, even when you’re not driving, by making sure that you’re not letting yourself get hungry or thirsty, or neglecting to go to the washroom.
- Physical discomfort will add to your mental discomfort - making it easier for you to lose your cool. Make sure you feel good physically.
- Practice deep breathing when you feel yourself getting stressed or pop on some happy or soothing music that will help change your mood.
- If you’re about to do something you will regret - like confronting another driver - remove yourself from the situation. Find a place to stop and take some time outside of your car to put things in perspective.
By making these resolutions, you’ll be taking concrete steps towards decreasing your odds of being in an accident, increasing the value of your vehicle, and saving money on your car expenses. The result? You’ll be a happier, safer driver in 2018.