Follow a few simple tips to make yourself a better driv... Follow a few simple tips to make yourself a better driver (Credit: Kyle May, Flickr).
Readers ask us questions all the time through comments and Facebook. The Car Coach answers them.

My husband says I need to change my driving habits. So, it's a new year. What can I do to be a better driver?

-MBN

Dear MBN:

Losing ten pounds? Quitting cigarettes? Or just giving up your chocolate addiction? Making your New Year's resolutions can do more than stop your husband from complaining, it will make you safer behind the wheel for you and your passengers as well as other drivers on the road. A change or two to your driving style can make all the difference on the highway - and could even save your life. Here are my top ten driving resolutions recommendations:

1. Buckle up yourself and your children properly. No single thing can prevent more highway accident injuries and deaths than belting in, especially for children and small adults.

2. Concentrate on driving. If you must use a phone in your car, and do not have a new car that enables you to mate the phone to your car for hands-free operation, then explore some of the aftermarket kits. And if you must eat on the road, pull over for fifteen minutes so you're not balancing a 64-ounce drink in your lap while doing 70 mph on the highway.

3. Stay in control, and resist road rage. If someone irks you or makes threatening moves, don't challenge them: slow down and blend into saner traffic. If necessary, drive to the nearest police station for your own safety to avoid someone that looks menacing and is following you.

4. Become a mirror-checker. Not for makeup or hair, but for the flow of traffic. You can see a lot of incidents coming your way if you scan your mirrors - rearview and side mirrors - every half a minute or so.

5. Pass left, drive right. The left-most lanes are meant for passing. If you're not passing or not completing a pass in less than a minute, move over and let others by.

6. Park with a conscience. Other people's cars deserve the same care you'd give your own. If a space is too tight to open your doors comfortably, find another one.

7. Learn how to stop in a hurry. While anti-lock brakes are standard or available on most cars today, many drivers still aren't familiar with how they work. If you've got a car with ABS, but have never experienced them in action, find a local parking lot and feel them working. It's easy to hit the brakes hard and feel the pulsation on the brake pedal. Don't lift your foot, keep it on the pedal firmly. That pulsation on your foot is your anti-lock brakes working.

8. Create some breathing room. The proper following distance of three car lengths is almost nonexistent in today's traffic-clogged commutes. But on the open road, there's no reason to travel tightly packed, convoy-style. Open some space between your bumper and the car ahead, and you'll cut the risk of being a statistic.

9. Pay attention to flashing lights. Whether it's an emergency vehicle, police car, school bus or a fellow driver flashing to pass, pay heed and pull right.

10. Change lanes safely. Miss your exit? Need to make the next right-hand turn - but you're in the left lane? Don't move across three lanes of traffic, or cut off other drivers - wait until the next opportunity, go back, and try it again. It may save your life and others too.


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