Hands on steering wheel in traffic

How to Drive Safely at Home After Combat Duty

The driving habits that kept you safe under threat can be dangerous to you and others now that you're home. Reduce the risk of injury to yourself and others by retraining yourself to drive in normal conditions.

Offensive vs defensive driving

The best kind of driver is a predictable driver. When you're in combat, though, being unpredictable is what might get you home safely. Now that you’re home, avoid traffic tickets and keep yourself safe by kicking these driving habits:

  • Cruising right down the middle of the road, or going off-road
  • Driving unpredictably — speeding up and slowing down, changing lanes suddenly
  • Speeding through intersections by running red lights or stop signs
  • Tailgating or matching another driver's actions, such as lane changes or speeding
  • Swerving unexpectedly to avoid common road objects, such as trash or road kill, or around road repairs.

Here are some best practices for a good, defensive driver:

  • Refresh yourself on your state's driving laws by getting the driver's handbook from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
  • Be courteous with pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers who share the road with you.
  • Avoid road rage — it's not worth ruining your day.
  • Make sure you're always at least three seconds behind the car in front of you. Stick to the speed limit. Do not text and drive.
  • Always use your seatbelt, and make sure passengers buckle up, too.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so responsibly and never drink and drive — arrange for a designated driver ahead of time or get a taxi.

If you or someone you know is having difficulty adjusting to new driving habits, such as engaging in excessive risk taking or drunk driving, seek professional help.

Motorcycle safety

If you own a motorcycle or are considering buying one, it’s essential to learn how to operate it safely.  Here are some tips to keep you riding happily and securely:

  • Take a motorcycle safety course. Department of Defense regulations require you to complete a motorcycle safety course before you can register or operate your bike, on or off your installation. 
  • Wear protective gear. The right clothing and gear protects you from the elements and flying debris, while offering some protection in the event of a crash. At minimum, wear a helmet, eyewear, gloves and sturdy shoes.
  • Stay alert: be aware of upcoming weather conditions that could affect the road and always watch out for blind spots.
  • Maintain you bike. Make sure it’s tuned up and that the brake lights, tire pressure and cables are all functioning properly.

With all these safety precautions, you’ll be back to comfortable driving in no time.