The National Safety Council estimates that more than 75 percent of road accidents are caused by driver error. While you can’t control the behavior of other people, you can control your own. You can drive defensively and safely. A safe driver is an alert one, looking out for traffic, visibility, road conditions and your own car condition. Off the road, this means planning trips in advance, going out on light traffic days and taking the fastest routes. While saving lives is the most obvious reason for driving safely, it’s not the only reason. Did you know that you can also save money?
Nobody likes getting a ticket, and in certain states you can get away with taking defensive driving classes instead of conviction points. Don’t think that classes are worth the money? Think again. Many insurance companies can lower your rates just by taking a class. The discounts range from 2 to 10 percent—a big deal especially if you’re a traffic cop magnet. Just make sure to pick a defensive driving class that qualifies you for discounts. Call your insurer to ask about discounts you’re eligible for. If you don’t have time to actually drive to class, there are online classes available in some areas. The class can take hours, but you have the option to come back later if you need to. Defensive driving classes cost about $25 (varies depending on location), a small investment with big returns. For example, if your insurer charges $100 a month, you can save 10 percent every year for 3 years. That’s savings of $360 a year!
Slowing down and smooth driving may cramp your style, but it can save you money on gas. You can lower fuel consumption by 7 percent for every 5 mph you shave off your driving speed. That’s 14 cents when you reduce speed from 65 to 60 mph. Avoiding over-revving and sudden jerks and stops also improves fuel economy, saving you about 66 cents per gallon. The best driver is a smooth driver. Don’t slam on the brakes, accelerate hard and go up and down between speeds. Many drivers wait until 2500 (diesel) to 3000 (gas) revs per minute before moving up a gear, but you should change up when you hit 2000 (diesel) to 2500 (gas) to save fuel. And while you’re at it, take your foot off the brake pedal to avoid wearing them out. You not only save on the cost of brake pads, but also on fuel consumption (up to 35 percent).
Driving safely, smoothly and at lower speeds means your vehicle gets much less wear and tear. Regular car servicing can get ridiculously expensive particularly if you’re a fiend on the road. It’s not about going without, however—regular maintenance prevents a major meltdown, but you don’t have to pay through the nose. Even better if you can service your own car. Make sure to wash the underside to get rid of salt that causes rust. A vehicle that looks spanking new on the outside, but has rotted guts in the inside is a safety hazard. Change the spark plugs often and check your tires. Keeping tires at the correct pressure reduces friction, improving fuel consumption by 2 percent and preventing fatal accidents. It’s worth investing in snow tires if you do a lot of driving in the winter—regular tires won’t cut it on the icy roads. Just make sure to change back to regular tires come summer. Also, remove any unnecessary weight (like the luggage/bike rack on the roof) that increases drag and makes your vehicle work harder.
Speeding tickets: People who drive unsafely and speed are at a risk of receiving tickets. Most people don’t realize the magnitude of the cost of a speeding ticket. Receiving a speeding ticket can easily cost you over one hundred dollars. Your car insurance premiums might also be raised. All of this just to save a few minutes of time.