People often regard their cars much like their walking shoes. Shoes are essential for getting around the home and one’s property, while cars are essential for getting around town and elsewhere. Too many people do about as much planning for road trips as they do for a casual walk. This is a mistake because driving in a car is more dangerous by a wide margin than walking around in shoes. While short and familiar local trips in a well maintained car require little if any preparation, embarking on a longer and unfamiliar trip with little planning and preparation increases your risk of a car accident.
Why isn’t a quick glance at a map sufficient? Because off-the-cuff navigation while driving will distract you from what should be your main focus: controlling your car and driving defensively. It’s said that the pilot who is busy navigating isn’t flying his plane. This is why commercial airlines hire navigators. This is equally true for a driver who has a higher risk of getting into an accident than a pilot has of crashing his plane. Reading a map while trying to spot the next turn-off spreads you out too thin and displaces too much of your focus away from safe driving.
Getting lost, making U-turns, and struggling to make sense of your route also place you in the wrong state of mind for safe driving. People make more mistakes when driving in an anxious or frustrated state than when feeling calm and collected.
Before leaving on a trip, research your route over the Internet and print out a few maps. Review the route in your mind a few times and use Google Street View to familiarize yourself with landmarks. There are many useful apps that can recommend routes that are clear of construction and other sources of traffic congestion. You should also check the weather forecasts for the areas you’re passing through. Do all of this preparation before leaving on your trip. If you have a GPS, then use it. However, program the device before you drive.
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