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13 Driving Tips that Could Save Your Life (and Some Money, Too)

Brush up on the rules of the road with these safe driving tips. Not only will they save you money, but they could also save your life.

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Driving tip #1: Leave early. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #1: Leave early

Getting out the door even a few minutes ahead of schedule means you’ll be less tempted to speed or take other risks to reach your destination more quickly, says Scott Marshall, director of training for Young Drivers of Canada. Find out the mathematical way you’re probably driving wrong.

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Driving tip #2: Remember the two-second rule. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #2: Remember the two-second rule

For city driving, there should be at least two seconds between the time the back of the car in front of you passes an object along the side of the road and when the front of your vehicle passes it, says Marshall. Double that in winter, at higher speeds or in poor conditions. Don’t miss these winter driving tips.

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Driving tip #3: Use your car's cruise control to its full potential.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #3: Use your car’s cruise control to its full potential

To save on fuel, turn on your cruise control (on open highways only) or watch your speedometer. Varying your speed even between 75 and 85 kilometres an hour every 18 seconds gobbles 20 per cent more gas.

Feeling pain at the pumps? Try these proven strategies to get better gas mileage.

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Driving tip #4: Coast to a stop. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #4: Coast to a stop

Take your foot off the gas when you approach a yellow or red light. You’ll use less gas and reduce wear and tear on your tires and brakes. Get to know more DIY brake tips to improve brake performance and reduce wear.

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Driving tip #5: Accelerate gradually. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #5: Accelerate gradually

If you treat green lights and on-ramps like the start of the Indy 500, you’ll drain fuel and strain your engine. Here are more thrifty tricks to save on gas.

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Driving tip #6: Check your car's tire pressure. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #6: Check your car’s tire pressure

Look on the inside of the driver’s door for your car’s ideal tire pressure and monitor it regularly. If it’s low by just eight pounds per square inch (55 kilopascals), you’ll burn through four per cent more fuel.

Find out why you shouldn’t ignore your car’s check engine light.

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Driving tip #7: Switch to synthetic oil.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #7: Switch to synthetic oil

Switching to synthetic oil will lower both your greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption. (Check your owner’s manual to be sure, but synthetic oil is now safe for almost all vehicles.) Find out how to do an oil change yourself with these step-by-step instructions.

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Driving tip #8: Put your phone out of sight. Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #8: Put your phone out of sight

Sgt. Alain LeBlanc, media relations officer for the RCMP in Nova Scotia, says distracted driving is now the leading cause of fatal and serious-injury collisions, a trend that bears out in Saskatchewan as well. A 2013 study from Virginia Tech found that drivers who text are twice as likely to get into a crash or near-crash. But even a hands-free phone is a distraction, says Marshall. “Driving is done with more than just your hands. You need your brain, too.”

Find out the surprising reason you should stop charging your phone in your car.

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Driving tip #9: Get the kids settled before you leave.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #9: Get the kids settled before you leave

You can’t concentrate on the road while putting in a DVD or passing out snacks. You can, however, keep the little ones occupied with these tech essentials for your next family road trip.

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Driving tip #10: Watch for wildlife.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #10: Watch for wildlife

Thousands of deer are killed on Canadian roads each year, says Marshall, who also blogs about road safety at The Safe Driver. Prepare yourself to spot animals sooner by moving your eyes from side to side while you drive through areas where there could be wildlife, especially at dawn and dusk.

You should also know that this is the most dangerous day of the week to drive in Canada.

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Driving tip #11: Leave room between cars.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #11: Leave room between cars

Don’t drive right next to another vehicle. Instead, leave some space so you have time to react to the unexpected, says Marshall. Here are 11 more driving mistakes that annoy other drivers.

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Driving tip #12: Speed limits aren't an absolute.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #12: Speed limits aren’t an absolute

Posted speed limits are for excellent conditions only, says LeBlanc, who points out that driving the maximum during a storm, for example, is clearly dangerous. Check out more winter driving mistakes that could put you in danger.

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Driving tip #13: Know when to stay at home.Photo: Shutterstock

Driving tip #13: Know when to stay at home

“People go out in a storm when it’s really not necessary,” says LeBlanc. Police often learn that victims of foul-weather accidents were just headed to the store to buy milk. Next, get to know these driving tips to stay safe in wet weather.