Avoiding Auto Accidents
On the road, accidents are bound to happen. But that doesn't mean you have to be an unfortunate safety statistic.
Use the tips below to learn a few simple driving behaviors that can prevent most automobile accidents.
Concentrate on Driving
Taking your eyes off the road is an easy way to get into a distracted driving accident. It only takes a second for an accident to occur, and the more reaction time you have, the better your chances are of avoiding collision.
Avoid distracted driving by ELIMINATING the following:
- Cell phone use of ANY kind.
- Applying makeup.
- Searching for music (on the radio, on your iPod, etc.).
- Reaching into the backseat while the vehicle is moving.
- A large number of passengers.
And don't forget: knowledge is power—check out our complete guide to the three types of distracted driving and know what to watch out for in your own behavior behind the wheel.
Pay Attention to Traffic Laws
While you won't be able to control the actions of others, by obeying all traffic laws you'll make it less likely for an accident to occur due to actions of your own.
A few behaviors that can help to avoid careless or reckless driving include:
- Watching your speed.
- This includes driving below the posted speed limits and avoiding the fast or passing lanes when possible.
- Using your turn signals.
- Turning on your headlights.
- This can help to prevent accidents by making you more visible, even in daytime.
- Paying attention to road signs.
- Road signs can alert you of road conditions or dangerous upcoming turns.
- Keeping a safe driving distance.
- Following other drivers too closely won't give you the proper amount of time to react should you need to brake suddenly.
Be a Defensive Driver
Being mindful of your own behaviors is one thing. But to avoid some accidents, you'll also need to increase your awareness of others.
Some good defensive driving techniques include:
- Avoiding distracted drivers.
- If you see a car swerving in his or her lane, it's best to keep your distance.
- Keeping both hands on the wheel.
- If you have to reach for the wheel, try scooting your seat up. This will help to ensure both hands can comfortably reach without fatiguing.
- Looking beyond the car directly in front of you.
- Keeping your eyes searching farther ahead for sudden braking or other dangerous situations will improve your reaction time.
- Being aware of your blind spots.
- Keep your mirrors adjusted to have as much of the road visible as possible.
- Know where your blind spots are and always turn to look before changing lanes.
Know Your Car
Every vehicle on the road will vary in what it can and can't do. Before you're on the road, it's important to understand your vehicle's limitations and how it will react in critical situations.
Here are some of the factors you should consider:
- How well your vehicle handles in turns.
- Vehicles sitting higher up won't be able to handle higher speed turns.
- Your tires and brakes.
- New tires and brakes should provide better stopping power.
- Did you opt for the cheaper set or the performance option?
- This will also make a difference in how quickly your vehicle will come to a complete stop.
- The maintenance of your vehicle.
- This can affect:
- Stopping power.
- This can affect:
Know When to Avoid Driving
In certain situations, it's important to know when it's best to not drive. These critical decisions often make the difference between a collision and avoiding one all together.
Here are a few situations when it's best not to get behind the wheel:
- Drinking and driving:
- Even when you think you're okay to drive and have only had a drink or two, it's NEVER OKAY TO DRIVE AFTER DRINKING. Period.
- Sleep deprivation:
- Pushing through the early morning or into the wee hours on a long drive can cause serious fatigue, causing your attention to waver and even put you at risk for falling asleep behind the wheel.
- Pulling off the road for a few hours when you've been deprived of sleep is always better than pushing through and causing an accident.
- Night driving:
- Decreased visibility means you'll have less time to react to hazards or to anticipate other drivers' reactions.
- Bad weather:
- Heavy rain, snow, and wind can make it difficult to control your vehicle. To stay safe, avoid driving in these conditions when possible.
- If you do have to drive, be cautious and adjust your speed. Always use your headlights and give yourself a greater distance when following other vehicles.