Change the Way You Drive: Avoiding Car Accidents
Car accidents are a daily occurrence throughout the U.S. and most, if not all, could be avoided. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 30,000 Americans are killed and more than two million more injured in car accidents every year.
As a result, car accidents remain one of the leading causes of death and injury in the United States. While the roadways are full of responsible, law abiding drivers, there are thousands more who make poor and dangerous driving decisions every time they head out on the road.
Tips to Avoid Getting in a Car Accident
While an accident can happen at any time, particularly when you least expect it, there are strategies to help you avoid being in a car accident and decrease your odds of being injured or killed.
There are no guaranteed tips for avoiding accidents (other than staying out of cars), but increased preventative measures can be integrated into the way you drive.
Eyes and Mind on the Road, Hands on the Wheel
Accidents happen for any number of reasons, but a majority of accidents occur when a driver is simply not paying attention to the road or fellow drivers. Anyone who has taken a driver’s education course knows that safe driving requires your eyes and mind on the road and your hands on the wheel. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to follow these simple rules, dramatically increasing their likelihood of being involved in an accident.
Even if you are attentive to the road, you should keep some of these other driving behaviors in check, to avoid a car accident:
- Look Ahead:
Responsible drivers know that it’s important to keep your eyes focused on the road. However, many drivers only focus on the car ahead of them, rather than scanning the area further ahead.
If you are able, it’s a good idea to glance ahead, beyond the car directly in front of you. If you are able to monitor traffic in front of the nearest car, you may be able to decrease your reaction time should the car in front of you make a sudden stop.
In addition to looking ahead, you should pay attention to the traffic both behind and around you. If you notice an out-of-control driver, obviously do your best to avoid them.
- Blind Spots:
Young drivers, when going through training, are constantly reminded to check their blind spots. However, it seems that as drivers become more experienced, they become less aware and a little less conscientious about his particular task.
Blind spots are the areas hidden from a driver’s view, as they are in between the rear and side view mirrors. Many newer cars have blind spot detection, which helps detect “invisible” cars in these areas.
Drivers should never solely rely on such a system, but instead adjust the mirrors for a panoramic view and check by looking behind and to the side during lane changes or merging.
- Take Care of Your Vehicle:
After monthly car payments and insurance costs, a car can add up to a hefty financial commitment, but little monthly investments can pay off. Not only will your car last longer, but you will stay safer and be less likely to cause an accident. Having a well-maintained car is important and less expensive in the long run.
Find an automotive technician who will follow a maintenance checklist and check your tire treads, pressure and other fluids on a regular basis. Additionally, try to steer clear of drivers who drive a visibly dangerous car.
For example, if your windows are full of obstructions or if your tires are visibly low, they may be more likely to cause or be part of an accident.
- Be Defensive:
The National Safety Council defines “Defensive Driving” as a form of training for drivers that goes beyond the rules of the road and the basic mechanics of driving.
Defensive driving can help drivers safely avoid all types of accidents, including distracted driving and drunk driving. Any driver of any age can benefit from a defensive driving course and the knowledge gained may improve the way many drivers choose to drive.
In order to be a defensive driver, you are making the decision to not drive aggressively or while intoxicated or while distracted. Doing so removes some of the major factors behind car accidents.
Accident Avoidance is Easy
While there is no magic formula to keeping yourself accident-free, simply changing the way you drive can decrease your chances of an accident while on the road. It’s up to you, as a driver, to make a commitment to safety and to being a responsible, law abiding driver.