The easiest way to avoid an accident and a potential personal injury to you or your passengers is to practice safe driving. Stick to the basics, stay alert and pay attention, and don’t drive aggressively.

There are many things that can distract you and lead to an accident. While you can’t prevent others from inattentive driving, you can avoid it yourself. If you do, it will reduce your chances of being in a serious accident.

What, specifically, can you do to remain vigilant and ensure your full attention is focused on the road? Let’s go over a few things now:

  1. Never Text and Drive – You take your attention away from the road for a minimum of 5 seconds anytime you text and drive. At 55 miles per hour, you’ll drive the length of a football field before looking at the road and traffic ahead. Clearly, this is too long to have your attention diverted. An obstacle, such as a stopped vehicle, can come up in a instant.
  2. Just Turn Your Phone Off – Talking and driving isn’t as bad as texting, but you’re still distracted while you’re doing it. The easiest way to not be distracted with talking on your phone is turning if off. Any important phone call can wait until the time you stop and turn off your vehicle.
  3. Don’t Eat – Eating and driving is fairly common. We lead busy lives, and sometimes it seems easier to grab something at a drive-thru and eat on the way to work, school, or your next appointment. But eating even a simple hand-held item will distract you from the roadway and could lead to an accident.
  4. No Grooming – Putting on makeup, brushing your hair, trimming your moustache – all of it should be done sometime other that when you’re driving. Again, a busy life is no excuse for distracted driving.
  5. Don’t Adjust the Radio/CDs/MP3 Player – Everyone loves to listen to music or talk radio while they are driving. It would be hard to give it up and drive silently on the roadways and highways. However adjusting your radio, MP3 or other device pulls your attention away from driving. Put your radio, MP3 or other device on one station and leave it there. The last thing you want is for a press of the “next” button to be your last action.
  6. 10 and 2 – It sounds cliché, but keeping both hands on the steering wheel can help you keep control of your car. Lackadaisical habits like resting one hand on the bottom of the wheel can lead to trouble. You are much better off – and more likely to pay attention – when you have both hands on the wheel.
  7. Don’t Speed – First of all, nobody wants a speeding ticket. But more importantly, as we already highlighted, speeding is one of the leading causes of California car accidents. By observing the posted limit, you are doing your part to keep yourself and other drivers safe.
  8. Don’t Let Passengers Distract You – Raucous conversation and lots of commotion can definitely be a distraction to a driver. If your passengers are getting rowdy or preventing you from staying focused on the road, let them know and ask them to quiet down. A good time while riding in the car as not nearly as important as arriving to your destination safely.

By observing these eight guidelines for safe driving, you can dramatically cut the risk of getting behind the wheel. Every other driver on the road is a wildcard, there’s no reason to be one yourself.