Car accidents can be caused by many things; weather, bad road conditions, and even mechanical failure in your car. However, the largest single cause of car accidents in the United States is none of these – it is distracted driving and driver error.
One of the best ways to reduce driver errors (and therefore reduce your likelihood of getting into a car accident) is by simply being aware. Also known as defensive driving, this technique consists of making sure that you are paying close attention to all of the signals, road conditions, other drivers, and pedestrians on the road with you, in addition to minimalizing distractions.
Here are ten specific ways that you can work on being aware in order to prevent an auto accident:
- Give yourself some space and don’t follow the vehicle in front of you too closely. This will give you ample time to react in case the vehicle in front of you comes to a sudden stop.
- Always use your turn signal for changing lanes or turning at a light. Turn your signal on with enough advance distance that other drivers will have time to see it.
- Once a traffic light turns green, wait a few seconds and even look to make sure that other cars are not attempting to run through the red light. Avoiding an accident is more important than getting honked at every so often.
- Driving while tired or intoxicated are serious causes of driver error. NEVER drink and drive or ride with a driver who is under the influence, or exhausted. Designate a driver, or call for a ride from a cab company, Uber, or Lyft.
- Put away your phone! Never text and drive, and if you must make and take calls, invest in a hands-free system. Many states, such as West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware require these systems for all drivers, and other states require them for commercial drivers. Check your local laws and the laws where you will be travelling.
- Always buckle your seatbelt, even for short trips – many accidents happen within only a few miles of home.
- Speeding is another common cause of driver error. Pay attention to your speed and the posted speed limits, as they can change throughout your drive due to curves, busy intersections, or schools.
- Pay attention to all signs and signals, from rural stop signs to urban construction markings. These directions and warnings will protect you and make you aware of any recent changes.
- Always concentrate on the road – not your passengers, your lunch, or what you may have dropped on the floor of the car. Pull over if something (or someone) in the car needs your immediate attention.
- Our last tip is about being aware of what happens after you are in a car accident. Once the police are called, individuals known as ambulance chasers, or just “chasers,” may appear. A chaser is someone who listens to a police scanner, and then rushes to the scene of an auto accident in order to find customers for their business. Common chaser industries include auto body shops and personal injury lawyers. The first problem with chasing is that it may be illegal in your city or county. Second, it can put you in the position of feeling pressured to instantly hire someone at a stressful and confusing time. Lastly, their presence on the scene may cause further distractions and safety / security concerns. It is better to take some time to evaluate several candidates before you hire someone as significant as a lawyer or mechanic.
Car accidents can be caused by a lot of things that you can’t control, but thankfully there are steps you can take to minimize your risk. Making a commitment to being aware while you drive is an easy way to keep you and your loved ones safe.