Road Hacks: Simple Tips to Help You Drive Your Best

traffic safety

You've probably seen a life hack article or two in your time. Maybe it included tips about how to best store a sandwich (keep the condiments on the side). Perhaps it covered how to get cheap, low-quality "Tupperware" from Chinese restaurants (you just keep the takeout containers...). But one set of life hacks that could be particularly useful to you is those special tips that can save you time and money when you're out driving.

Let's call them 'road hacks.' Easy ways to drive a little smarter every day. Consider the following ones.

Road Hack #1 – Get in the zone and stay there.

What is 'the zone' you ask? It's that special driving mindset where you are totally focused on the road. You aren't checking your phone, you aren't fiddling with the radio, and you definitely aren't fixing your hair in the mirror while doing 70 on the highway. But it's more than that. It's a state of mental awareness where you pay attention not only to the laws of traffic, but to the people around you, bearing in mind that they don't always follow those laws. You don't have to always assume ill intent, but you should absolutely double check an intersection before proceeding when a light turns green. And when your passenger says, "Hey, check this out," and holds up their phone, you should tell them, "wait until we get there. I'm driving." It's that easy.

Road Hack #2 – Avoid speeding.

OK, you want to get somewhere faster, but what's the best way to do that? On paper, it might seem like just driving faster will get you to your destination quicker. But in reality, speeding has a minimal impact on your drive time. Factors such as weather and traffic conditions play a much larger role, and you simply can't control those. You'll get a faster time on your trip by planning around those conditions than you ever would by speeding – and you'll also avoid getting in trouble with the law. 

Road Hack #3 – Don't take the bait.

Road rage usually starts when one party does something obnoxious, and the other party responds. That's not always the case, but often it takes two to tango. You can prevent a grudge match from happening on the road by simply not responding. Try a passive approach. If someone starts tailgating you, just get over. You could play games with them and cause more trouble, or just let them go be crazy somewhere else. The latter option is much easier.

Road Hack #4 – Buy some cool toys.

The next time you're in Walmart, head on over to the automotive and outdoors sections and pick up a few cool things for yourself. Grab a powerful flashlight that will fit in your glove box. You can also pick up a glass breaker-seat belt cutter combo for cheap and keep it in your center console. You should also grab a toolkit, an air pump, some road flares, and a medical kit, in case you don't already have these. Not only do all of these items have practical value, but they are also just kind of cool. I mean, who doesn't like flares?

Road Hack #5 – Read the manual.

This seems like an obvious one, but a surprising number of people are ignorant of their vehicle's basic functions and capabilities. In a time when automobiles have increasingly complex electronic and safety features, it's important to understand exactly what your vehicle does and why. So, one evening when you get home from work, take your owner's manual out of your glove box and inside with you, brew a cup of tea, sit down by the fire, and give it a read from cover to cover. You might just learn something new. And, at the very least, you'll have some fun facts to share at your next social occasion. If there's one thing every loves, it's a vehicle-specific automotive fun fact.

Put These Tips to Good Use

Let all of these road hacks serve as a reminder of just how many ways there are for you to enhance your approach to driving and make the most of your time behind the wheel. Because really, driving should never be dull and uninteresting. The more engaged you are when driving, the more safe, efficient fun you'll have on the road.