New year, new habits to make behind the wheel

A New Year's Resolution that everyone should add to their list: become a safer driver.

It’s officially time to brainstorm your 2019 New Year’s resolutions. The new year brings a perfect opportunity to begin again on a fresh slate and make commitments to change and become your best self. Some vow to eat healthier, many strive to go to the gym more, and others promise to get rid of that bad habit that they’ve had for years.

Whatever your resolutions may be, there’s one more goal that nearly everyone should add to their list: become a safer driver.

Listed below are some driving resolutions that you can quickly take on in 2019 and beyond to keep you and those around you safe on the streets.

Follow the speed limit. Not only will you avoid having to pay a hefty fee for a speeding ticket, but you’ll keep the roads much safer. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that speeding accounted for more than a quarter of all traffic fatalities in 2016. Speed limits are posted for a reason.

Signal. Whether you’re turning onto a new street or you’re just switching lanes, signaling is essential. It allows the cars around you to understand where you’re going so that they’re not caught off guard. Turning on your blinker is a fundamental part of road safety, and it’s a very simple step to take. Don’t rely on the guesswork of other drivers—make signaling a habit.

Buckle up. You’ve heard it since you were a kid: wear your seatbelt! Yes, it’s against the law to leave your seatbelt unbuckled. If you need a second incentive, that belt could save you from severe injury if you’re ever in an accident. Seatbelts saved an estimated 14,668 lives in 2016.

Stop tailgating. Tailgating doesn’t get you to your destination any faster. If you’re following behind another vehicle too closely, you likely won’t have enough time or distance to react and avoid a collision. Take a deep breath and try to push the impatience and road rage aside—the highway is not a NASCAR race.

Avoid using your cell phone. And if you do NEED to use it, make sure that it’s connected to your car through Bluetooth or another hands-free source. Plan your destination before you get into the car so that you don’t need to scramble with your GPS on the road, and tell your friends that you will text them when you’re done driving. You can even set your phone to “Do Not Disturb While Driving” or download an app that blocks texts and calls while you’re behind the wheel.

Properly maintain your vehicle. Not only is a broken-down car inconvenient and frustrating, but it can also be incredibly dangerous to the cars around you if your vehicle stops in the middle of a busy road. Make sure your car’s receiving the TLC it deserves—you should be checking your oil, inspecting your tires, examining your air filters, and testing your brakes on a regular basis.

Don’t drink and drive. In the United States, 29 people die each day in motor vehicle crashes that involve a drunk driver. That equals one death every 50 minutes. There are countless, convenient alternatives to drinking and driving: ridesharing apps, taxis, walking, carpooling—the list goes on. Be smart and remember: you booze, you cruise, you lose.

Sinclair Broadcast Group is committed to keeping our viewers accident-free, which is why we initiated the Drive Safe campaign. Steer clear of danger with our monthly tips.