Words by Jay Kana

In the past 17 years, I’ve driven over 750,000 kilometers. I’ve seen lots of great drivers and sadly, even more horrid ones: speeders, collision-causers, reckless drivers and so on. Seldom is there praise for the safe and smart drivers who drive defensively and make the roads a safer place.

Here are some critical habits that safe, smart and cool drivers engage in:

1. They use their turn signals all the time.

This allows other drivers to know what you’re doing, plus it enhances safety and stops you from receiving dirty looks and potential road rage. It’s a very polite “excuse me” as opposed to cutting in front of someone. When someone unexpectedly cuts in front of you, the common reaction is to brake to avoid a collision. Sadly, the person behind you may not be paying attention to you and we all know how this story ends.

2. They keep their distance.

Maybe the car ahead does have a hilarious bumper sticker, but if you’re close enough to read it, you won’t have any reaction time. “But he braked for no reason,” never works in anyone’s defence.

3. They don’t text/tweet/email while driving.

“Your Honour, it was crucial for me to update my Facebook and Twitter status and send a mass text about the terrible driver ahead of me. He was braking for no reason!”

4. They remove all that useless crap from their rear-view mirrors.

All the clutter does is impair your vision and distract you; it serves no purpose aside from vanity.

5. They obey stop lights.

I’ll never understand how a yellow light gets interpreted as “I can easily make that light if I double my speed in 1.845 seconds!” Gauge your distance safely and go through the intersection when it’s green.

6. They never drink and drive.

Ever. If this has to be explained to you, you shouldn’t have a licence.

7. They always drive with their low beams on during inclement weather.

Daytime running lights only illuminate the front of your car. If you can’t be seen, it’s hard for someone who’s speeding/ weaving to avoid you. Yes, yes, I know, they shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. Be a part of the solution.

8. They always drive according to road conditions.

If it’s not completely dry on the roads, you won’t have the amount of traction you’re used to, meaning your stopping distance is increased. I’m not saying to drive at 7 km/h, just keep your distance: it’s not the Indy 500.

Being a safe and smart driver is easy—it just takes common sense. There are more tips and habits that I haven’t mentioned here, so feel free to chime in via our Facebook page and let me know what your safe driving tips are. Just please don’t do it while you’re driving.