Whether you’re heading out on a road trip or making a necessary journey, safety is number one on the list of driving essentials. No matter how skilled a driver you are, if you take risks you put people’s lives in danger. When you’re a designated driver, it’s not only you and the other road users you must look after, it’s also your passengers. From staying sober to checking your belts are working, here’s what you can do to be a good and safe designated driver.
Don’t drink ANY alcohol if you’re the designated driver
It goes without saying that alcohol impairs your judgment when driving. Every country has its own laws on the legal limit you can drink when you drive, but you should ignore that. If you want to be a good designated driver and keep your friends safe don’t drink any alcohol.
There’s evidence for this. In 2014 the University of California, San Diego, published a report that looked at the safest level of alcohol to drive on. What were their findings? That there is no safe level. However small the amount of alcohol you drink, your reactions will be slower and you’ll be more likely to cause a crash. Just don’t do it.
If you can’t operate heavy machinery you can’t drive
It’s not only alcohol that damages your ability at the wheel. There are countless prescription medications which make you drowsy, less focused, and more risk-averse. Check the instructions and take advice from your doctor, and remember this: if you can’t operate heavy machinery you can’t drive
Set ground rules for your passengers to follow in your car
Few of us want to be the designated driver. You’re the grown-up responsible for your friends and there’s a cap on your fun. Staying sober is a favour to your passengers and they owe you one in return – abiding by the ground rules you set for them in your car. But that’s not the only reason for them to do as they say – you need the best environment for driving.
Your car’s environment affects your mindset and that impacts on your driving. Your passengers can distract you in many ways. By talking too much, not putting their seat belts on, or smoking. List all the things your passengers could do that will take your attention away from the road, then let them know they’re a no go – if you’re not fully focused you’re not safe.
Know your destination(s) and plan your route in advance
Being focused doesn’t only depend on keeping your passengers in check. You’re the one getting everyone to your destination. Checking road signs while you’re driving makes you less focused so keep it to a minimum by planning your route in advance. Invest in a good GPS to help, or get one of your passengers to direct you – whichever is best.
Make sure that you’ve prepared for the worst, just in case
Of course, if the worst does happen you still need to keep your friends safe. This means taking the proper precautions to protect against injury. This means checking your airbags, seat belts, and headrests are all safe before you set off.
However, if you do have an accident and your friends are injured you need to take steps to support any legal claims you make – just because you’re not at fault doesn’t mean the other driver will accept liability. Getting a backup camera for your car lets you record what happens in an accident. It provides evidence in the courts, keeping you and your passengers safe from footing a big legal bill.
Being a designated driver is a big responsibility. Following the advice in this article will make you a safer driver and help you look after your passengers. So make sure you re-read it before it’s your turn to be cab driver for the night!