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What You Need to Check (And NOT Check) for Your Commute

After months of remote working, many of us have finally logged out of Zoom and headed back into the office. Returning to the daily commute can have some drivers remembering how dangerous it is. No matter if you work in a large city like Tampa or smaller towns like Winter Haven or Lakeland, you’re likely to run into some rush hour traffic. How can you reduce your risk and get to work safe? Here’s our list of top commuting safety tips:

  1. Check your vehicle
  2. Check your route
  3. Check your emotions
  4. DON’T check your phone

Let’s look a little closer at each one of these recommendations that can keep both you and the drivers around you safe.

1. Check your vehicle

Male mechanic refilling car oil in service center

To keep yourself safe, you first need to make sure your vehicle is safe. Performing routine maintenance will help your car to run its best and keep you from any mishaps on the way to work.

You should at least get your car’s oil changed a few times a year. Most will recommend you do this every 3,000 miles you drive. You’ll want to check the factory recommendation based on your oil type for the most accurate information.

When you get your oil changed, check the other fluids in your car such as power steering or transmission fluid. If you go to an oil change service center, these will usually be checked for you. Don’t forget to refill them if they get low!

If your car has an automatic maintenance reminder system, be sure to follow its advice. When that “Check Engine” light comes on, it can be tempting to ignore it and hope for the best. For your safety and the safety of other drivers on your commute, take your vehicle to a mechanic and have them check it out. Be proactive in the maintenance of your vehicle so you aren’t stuck on the side of the road on the way to work.

2. Check your route

empty asphalt road and floral field of yellow flowers. summer (spring, autumn) background

Sometimes it feels like the whole city is on the same route to work at the same time. There are a few things you can do to reduce the stress of bumper to bumper traffic.

First, try to find an alternate route. Main highways may seem like the best way to get to the office, but there are probably less crowded roads that lead to the same place. Even if it takes a longer time to travel, less congested roads can be safer and less stressful.

Can’t find a different route? Try traveling at non-peak times. If you’ve noticed that certain times are busier than others, try leaving a little earlier than usual. You may find that there are less cars on the road and you have a smoother drive to work.

Florida’s summer months usually mean rainy weather. If you’re expecting rough weather on your commute, plan accordingly. Check that your windshield wipers and headlights work well. Then choose a route that will be easier to navigate in a storm. You don’t want to have to avoid road debris or have to drive too fast. Try a few different roads to see which one works best in all weather.

Once you’ve decided on your course, make sure you have what you need. If you know you’ll be driving into direct sunlight, have a pair of sunglasses ready. If there’s scheduled roadwork on part of your route, have a GPS ready to help guide you through detours. Having little things like these prepared before you start your commute will reduce stress along the way and keep you focused on the road.

3. Check your emotions

Driver with road rage honking horn

When you’re driving in crowded traffic, tensions can be high. You’re bound to get cut off, tailgated, or honked at. The number one thing to remember is to not give into road rage.

Road rage cases have been climbing in recent years, putting drivers at risk. When drivers are late to work, stressed out, or haven’t gotten enough sleep, they’re more prone to aggressive driving. So what can you do to keep from driving angry?

First, keep your safety in mind. Even if you’re running late to work, you won’t get there if you’re in the hospital. Make your driving decisions carefully. Don’t do anything that could put you or the others around you at risk. It just isn’t worth it.

Second, get plenty of sleep at night. If you’re driving drowsy, you won’t be as focused and could be more likely to give into your emotions. Driving without proper rest can also put you at three times the risk of getting in a crash. Not only will being well-rested help you do your job, it will also help get you there safe.

If you find yourself more prone to road rage, try listening to something that will keep you relaxed. Find your favorite podcast, make a special playlist, or try a new audiobook. These options allow you to stay focused on driving but can ease your mind when the road gets stressful.

4. DON’T check your phone

Woman driving distracted to work

You’ve heard it before: don’t drive distracted. From 2012 to 2018, approximately 23,000 people died in a crash involving a distracted driver. No one ever plans on being in one of these crashes, so you always need to be on guard against them.

There are always distractions trying to get our attention when we drive. They seem to multiply during the morning or evening commute. Texts, calls, and emails all take our eyes off the road and on our phones. Many people eat their breakfast or drink their coffee on the way to work. If you’re running behind, you may be tempted to apply your makeup while in traffic. We may not think much of these distractions, but they can have a huge impact on our safety in just moments.

Try to stay as hands-free as possible when you’re behind the wheel. Out of sight, out of mind is a helpful saying to remember when it comes to your phone. Wait to check your notifications until you’re safely at work. Do your makeup when you arrive in your parking lot and try to eat breakfast at home before you hit the road. These small things will keep you focused and safe on your way to work.

Final Thoughts

Driving to and from work can be a hassle, but it doesn’t have to be a danger. Check in on your car, your route, and yourself before you set out for the day. Following these commuting safety tips will make small changes to your drive that make a big difference in your safety.

Brooks Law Group wants you to stay safe, but we understand that accidents do happen. When you’re injured in a car accident, one of our experienced attorneys can help you understand your options. Contact us today for your free video consultation.

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