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5 Defensive Driving Strategies That Help Prevent Car Accidents

5 Defensive Driving Strategies That Help Prevent Car Accidents

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.

5 Defensive Driving Strategies That Help Prevent Car Accidents2. Make Safety the Top Priority

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.

5 Defensive Driving Strategies That Help Prevent Car Accidents4. Never Drive While Impaired

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.

Why You Need a Lawyer in a Bicycle Related Accident

In July 2017, an accident involving a car and a bicyclist illustrated why hiring a personal injury attorney, especially in a bicycle related accident, can be beneficial for the victim. A Tennessee motorist was involved in a hit-and-run accident with a cyclist, when a fellow cyclist caught all the action on camera because he rode with a GoPro recording device. The driver knocked one cyclist to the ground, causing serious injuries before speeding away. Because of the footage, the driver has been arrested on numerous charges, including a felony reckless endangerment, leaving the scene of an accident, failure to render aid and failure to immediately notify of an accident.

Unfortunately for cyclists, dangerous driving behavior such as this is all too common. Risks to cyclists on the road continue to increase, as data from the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration July 2016 report shows bicycle deaths increased 13 percent year-over-year, more than for any other type of victim. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 1,000 bicyclists died in the United States in 2015, and there were more than 467,000 bicycle-related injuries.

There are plenty of risky behaviors motorists may participate in that make roads less safe for cyclists, ranging from prescription drug use, to marijuana use, to texting and driving. Among bicyclist deaths, in 37 percent of cases, alcohol was present in either the driver or bicyclist in a collision.

Other drivers aren’t the only dangers on the road for bicyclists. Potholes and road hazards are extremely dangerous and may not be noticed until after the accident has happened. Children and older adults are particularly at higher risk for injuries or fatalities while riding a bike.

If you’re involved in an accident while on a bike, either with a motorist, another cyclist or road hazard, consulting with an attorney is wise even if you don’t sustain serious injuries. Here’s what to consider.

Damage and Blame

You are entitled to fair and legal compensation if you are a rider that was following all bicycle laws while riding. Depending on your state’s laws, these probably include:

  • Riding while sober
  • Wearing a helmet while riding
  • Following all traffic laws, including obeying street signs and riding on the right side of the road

If you experience an accident while you are following safe riding procedures, you incur stress and emotional tolls in addition to any physical damage. If your bike is destroyed, you may be entitled to property damage compensation. Any injuries you experience, including hospital and medical bills plus time missed off work, may also be recovered with the help of an attorney.

If you are not in an accident with another human party such as a motorist or bicyclist, but you are in a crash because of incomplete road work or a hazard that is not made obvious to pedestrians and cyclists, the city or a private party that is working on the path where you crashed may be to blame depending on where the hazard is.

The best thing to do if you are not sure about whether or not a lawyer can benefit you after your bicycle crash is to first talk with a law firm during a free consultation. Depending on the amount of damage, lawyer fees may not be worth settling the case on your own. A free consultation can help you to determine whether dealing with an insurance company through a claims process yourself is more beneficial. For accidents where minor damage occurs, this may be the better choice, but talking with a lawyer will help you determine that. It is important to contact a lawyer before talking with an insurance company or signing any documents an insurance company may present you with.

How to Help Your Bicycle Accident Case

As seen in the hit-and-run example above, even when if a driver abandons the scene after you’ve crashed, there may be other ways you can get help. Some accident scenes are near security cameras that may have caught footage of the accident. It is vital to stay at the scene, call the police, and document all damage and injuries that have occurred.

A police report is a vital tool in a bicycle accident case and may be your most significant form of help if you pursue litigation. Also, obtaining contact information of witnesses is helpful for a bicycle accident case. Not fixing the bicycle or anything else that may have been damaged, such as a helmet, allows you to keep helpful evidence intact.

Some examples of when to consider hiring an attorney if you’ve been in a bicycle accident include:

  • If another party is pursuing litigation against you
  • If you experience bodily injuries or significant physical damage to your bike
  • If you collided with an unavoidable hazard that should have been clearly marked
  • If you followed all safety laws while riding, and another party is clearly at fault

If you are the victim in Alabama, working with an attorney that understands bicycle accident liability can ensure all pertinent details are obtained and the right amount of compensation is awarded. 

New Data Shows Surprising Conditions for Motorcycle Accidents

Riding a motorcycle gives you the thrilling feeling of being on the open road, without the confines of a massive vehicle acting as a barrier between you and nature. It’s easy to see why there are more than 8 million motorcycles registered in the United States — riding a motorcycle gives you a sense of freedom you just can’t replicate in a regular car.

Motorcycles are also far more dangerous vehicles to ride, though. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports fatalities occur 27 times more frequently on motorcycles compared to other vehicles. What may surprise you is that a new report released by Motofire in July 2017 shows 96 percent of motorcycle accidents occur in clear conditions. A third of accidents happen when the motorcyclist is traveling at less than 40 miles per hour, and nearly two-thirds of accidents happen when the motorcyclist is riding for fun, as opposed to 21 percent to or from work. Drivers are riding on straight or open curve roads during 85 percent of accidents. At times you should feel safest — when you’re not stressed from work, riding at relatively slow speeds, on clear and straight or open curve roads — is when you’re likely to be in an accident.

Stats like these show just how important it is to take safety precautions at all times when riding a motorcycle. Considering that road conditions are not as likely to play a role in accidents as other factors, use these safety precautions to stay protected.

Don’t Ride Impaired

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Data Loss Institute reports in 2015, 28 percent of drivers who died on motorcycles had a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher. Motorcycle fatality incidents are climbing, increasing 8.3 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to the Insurance Information Institute. As the legalization of marijuana for medicinal and recreational use expands throughout
the country, overall vehicle fatalities are also steadily increasing, too.

Alcohol and other drugs impair your ability to judge time or distance and hinder your reaction time. Prescription drugs can also add a whole host of other negative effects to motorcyclists. The safest way to ride is to be completely sober, to keep you and other motorists safe.

Wear Noticeable Attire

Even in near-perfect conditions, motorists don’t always notice motorcycles and their drivers because of their size. Make sure others have you in view by wearing neon colors or reflective fabrics. Wear a helmet that stands out. An all-black ensemble atop a black bike may look cool to you, but other drivers may not see you until a crash occurs.

Focus on the Road

Since most accidents happen while motorcyclists are riding for pleasure, don’t let the fun you’re having decrease your safety. If someone is riding with you, make sure you’re both wearing protective, layered and visible clothing, as well as helmets. Depending on the state and age of the rider or passenger, wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is the law.

Avoid speeding or being distracted by a passenger, the sights around you or loud music. Strive to be consciously aware of other motorists, so you can avoid any dangerous driving behavior that is occurring near you.

Practice Before Taking Off

While you may be eager to move directly from driving a car to riding a motorcycle, the vehicles have totally different user experiences, which can pose a threat to novice motorcyclists. Motorcyclists who are killed in crashes are more than twice as likely than passenger car drivers to be riding without a valid license. Motorcycle riding licensure laws vary state by state — you can find them here on the AAA website. Often, to legally ride a motorcycle, you must undergo proper training to obtain the proper permit.

Even after you’ve obtained the appropriate license to ride a motorcycle, you should practice in relaxed conditions at slow speeds before riding on busy roads or freeways. Being a skilled rider means having a bike you feel comfortable on and that perfectly fits your body. You should practice a variety of maneuvers on the bike and feel confident executing all types of driving. Any hesitancy or uncertainty can negatively impact your performance and put yourself and other drivers in danger.

Be Prepared for Motorcycle Accidents

Even when you’re doing everything right on a motorcycle, other drivers are dangerous simply because their vehicles are larger, and they may not be paying attention to you on the road. Only ride in legal conditions, and make sure you have a camera on you when you ride so you can document accidents. If you are unfortunately in an accident while riding a motorcycle, contact a Birmingham motorcycle accident lawyer to receive legal advice and obtain the compensation you deserve.






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