If you haven’t been involved in a fender-bender, consider yourself fortunate. According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2016, there were more than 7 million police-reported traffic crashes. More than 37,000 people died in these accidents, and more than 3 million people were injured.
Some of the most common car accident causes are preventable. These include:
- Not paying attention to other vehicles
- Failing to adapt to changing road conditions
- Following other vehicles too closely
- Ignoring blind spots
- Driving while impaired
- Allowing emotions like anger to influence unsafe driving behaviors
- Ignoring dangerous driving conditions
Defensive driving is the safest driving technique that requires that drivers stay alert and aware of their surroundings and adapt accordingly. Using defensive driving strategies helps drivers avoid problems unsafe drivers or road conditions can cause.
As we’ve learned in the cases that we’ve helped clients earn more than $800 million in settlements from, when it comes to driving, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Here are some defensive driving strategies you can use to avoid a costly accident – not just in terms of money, but in terms of human safety.
1. Focus on Driving
Don’t text, don’t look down at your phone, and don’t turn around to talk to the passenger in the back seat. Don’t eat food or apply makeup while driving.
Keep your eyes focused on the road and changing traffic conditions. Observe speed limit changes, the state of the road and any obstacles, traffic controls and cars in front of, behind and next to you.
You may encounter unsafe driving behaviors that tempt you to react unsafely, as well. For example, if someone is tailgating you on a freeway, you may want to speed up to create some distance, but that just makes you speed, as well.
If another driver is swerving, following you too closely, changing speeds erratically or driving in another way that is unsafe, don’t react – avoid the driver and move away from them.
3. Assume the Worst
You may be an impeccable driver, but you can’t count on other drivers to be as safe as you. That’s why you should always follow all traffic laws, which are in place to keep motorists safe.
In addition to paying attention to unsafe driving behaviors that are happening, you should take extra precaution while driving in case something dangerous happens unexpectedly. Be sure to:
Leave at least one car length in front of you and the next driver in front of you for every 10 miles per hour you are driving, in case the driver stops suddenly or decreases speed for some reason.
Drive the speed limit.
If you need to change lanes, do so early and check your blind spots before merging, so you can avoid a driver speeding up and preventing you from doing so safely.
Use turn signals and obey all traffic controls.
Even if you have the right of way, yield for drivers when it appears they won’t yield for you. Remember that some reckless drivers will run red lights or fail to let you pass in front of them.
Constantly scan your surroundings to identify any unsafe behaviors you want to avoid. Don’t just look directly in front of you. Be aware of conditions down the road to anticipate how to react to them.
Alcohol, illegal drugs and even some prescription drugs can all impair your ability to drive alertly. Follow all directions to avoid driving after taking certain prescription drugs. Never drive while intoxicated, because that will slow down your reaction time.
You should also avoid driving while sleepy. As we’ve covered, drowsy driving is a significant hazard to you and other motorists.
Avoid driving while your emotions are heightened, as well. Anger could cause you to drive aggressively, while even a positive emotion like euphoria could make you feel more confident in using reckless driving behaviors.
5. Maintain Your Car
Finally, one of the easiest ways to increase the safety of your driving is to make sure your car is in perfect working condition. A car that breaks down in the middle of the freeway can cause car accidents. If your windshield wipers don’t work, and it starts raining, your visibility will suffer. Proper car maintenance goes hand-in-hand with safe driving behaviors.
Are You a Victim of Someone’s Unsafe Driving?
If another driver’s aggressive or unsafe driving habits caused a car accident where you were seriously injured due to their negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact the Birmingham car accident attorney team at Pittman, Dutton & Hellums for a free car accident consultation.