Even a small car driven slowly has more energy than the most powerful firearm yet, routinely, things are done with them that are so dangerous that if the equivalent were done with a firearm a severe prison sentence would be inevitable.  Most unsafe driving is not done by the irredeemably reckless but by ‘ordinary folk’ either having a lapse of concentration or, more usually, simply not realizing how dangerous they are being.  Both can be dealt with by education.

Obviously nothing can prevent a lapse in concentration, though the development of good motoring habits can help reduce the consequences from an accident to a scary ‘wake-up call’.  Fundamental to this however, is attitude.
You will never become a ‘safe driver’.  All you can do is try to be safe, now.
There are no easy, all-purpose, formulae which automatically guarantee safe driving.  At all times you have to use your personal judgement.

Awareness is fundamental to judgement, and relaxation is fundamental to awareness.  Here are some points about the realities of driving which might help you differentiate between what you can do and what you would like to do, which is essential if you are going to have a more relaxed journey.

1. MATHEMATICAL FACT - to reduce the duration of any journey (driving, walking, cycling) by 10% - a measly 3 minutes in a 30 minute drive - it is necessary to increase your average speed by a staggering 50% over almost a third of your journey - i.e. 40mph must become 60mph, 70mph must become 105mph.  Generally speaking, it can’t be done. Why try?

2. OBSERVED FACT - ever wondered why your regular journey always takes about the same length of time whether you drive fast or slow?  Mainly it is because of (1) above, but it also due to things over which you have no control - the traffic density and what happens at lights, roundabouts, crossings and junctions generally. Why rush?

3. TAILGATING - to keep at least two seconds away from the car in front, wait until it passes over an identifiable mark in the road then say, ‘One thousand, two thousand.’  If you are still talking when you pass over the mark, you are too close, ease back.  Increase your count to three or four thousand in wet or icy weather - you must use your judgement at all times.

4. MATHEMATICAL FACT - if someone cuts into the two second gap you have left, ease back until it is two seconds again.  This will add only one second to your journey time.

5. PHYSIOLOGICAL FACT – we each have a ‘personal space’ about us which, if intruded into by strangers, causes a reflex physiological response, (flight or fight), usually anxiety and alarm.  We have no control over this though we do have control over what we do with it.  It is the same when we are in our cars, hence the disproportionate anger caused by tailgating and close cutting-in.  Keep away from other drivers - not only the two second gap when driving, but also when stopped – you should be able to see tyres and tarmac.  You’ll notice the difference.

6. RED LIGHT AHEAD - charge up to it and slam your brakes on, or take your foot off the accelerator and roll up to it nice and easy.  Either way makes no difference to the duration of your journey but the latter is far easier on both you and your car.  Often you will find you are still moving when the lights change.

7. PHYSIOLOGICAL FACT - shining a bright light into someone’s eyes makes the pupils contract and reduces their ability to see less well lit objects (pedestrians etc) and to judge distance and speed.  Dipped headlamps are thus not intrinsically safe but intrinsically dangerous, a danger which is increased by the fact that bends and bumps routinely throw a full beam into the face of oncoming drivers.  Being a hazard to other road users they should only be used when failure to use them poses a greater hazard i.e. when you need them to see where you are going, or in fog or spray where other vehicles come into view before you see their sidelights.  
Never use headlamps just because it is night time, overcast or raining - you must use your judgement at all times.

8. DRIVING SKILLS - do not confuse skill in handling a car – good driving - with good motoring.  It is always a good thing to improve your car-handling skills but high-speed manoeuvring, skid control etc are rarely needed.  Skilful motoring consists of being aware of other road users - assessing and anticipating what they are going to do and thinking about how your actions will affect them.

9. SPEED - your speed in miles per hour increased by a half is your speed in feet per second: e.g. 40mph = 60feet/sec.  Halved, it is your speed in metres per second: e.g 40mph = 20 metres/sec.  A second is about one heartbeat.

10. SOCIOLOGICAL FACT - we generally treat each other as we are treated, so SMILE, you sonofabitch!

11. ‘SPEED KILLS’ - this unhelpful and inaccurate ‘buzz phrase’ is used instead of proper driver advice, not to say, rational thought.  It should be ‘inappropriate speed is dangerous’ but this, though accurate, lacks literary verve and is difficult to wag a patronizing finger to!  It is true that the higher the speed, the less time there is to make decisions, the greater the stopping distance, and the greater the damage done on impact (this being proportionate to the
square of the speed).  What kills, however, is not speed, but coincidence - two objects in the same place at the same time.  Consider, you hit something at 30 mph, and are piously advised ‘if you’d been travelling slower this wouldn’t have happened.’  Quite true.  But it wouldn’t have happened if you had been travelling faster either.  If you had been doing 28 mph or 32 mph for just one minute before the time of the collision, you would have been 180 feet away from where it happened!