Driving or riding in a car is something that millions of Americans do every day and take for granted. However, this common activity is quite dangerous, with over 38,000 average yearly deaths from car crashes in the United States. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do to ensure a safe trip when we hit the road. However, there are plenty of steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of a car accident from occurring.
Check out more car accident facts to learn the full scale of the danger posed by this everyday activity.
We all have control over our own driving. However, what we don’t control is the driving of others. Unfortunately, even if you follow all possible safety precautions, you can not ensure your safety because other drivers may not be as conscientious. However, there are steps that you can take to help decrease the likelihood of another driver’s reckless behavior resulting in your being involved in an accident.
There are many defensive driving techniques that you can use to minimize the impact of bad drivers.
Being aware of your surroundings is one of the most important aspects of safe driving. Make sure to scan ahead, so you know if there is any potential hazard coming up in the roadway, including any drivers ahead who are behaving erratically.
Check Your Mirrors
While it is important to pay attention to everything that is happening on the road ahead of you, it is also important to note the behavior of vehicles behind you. Check your mirrors regularly so that you are aware of any cars that may be fast approaching behind you. Doing so will also help you keep track of when a driver enters your blind spot.
A vehicle operating in your blind spot can be incredibly hazardous if you are unaware of their presence and need to change lanes. While you should always check your blind spot before changing lanes in an emergency situation, it can be very helpful to know whether you are clear for a quick lane change or not.
Practice Social Distancing
While social distancing has become a major component of life under the global pandemic of COVID-19, it is also a practice that drivers should always ascribe to while on the roads. Deep down, human beings are wired with a pack mentality. When driving on highways and freeways without even realizing it, drivers tend to group together.
When drivers find themselves moving a bit slower or faster than the flow of traffic, they often find themselves in spaces of the open roadway. These clear roads may seem appealing, without having to worry about the actions of other drivers around us. However, most people don’t take advantage of the situation. The vast majority of drivers finding themselves in this situation will either speed up or slow down to rejoin a pack of vehicles.
Be aware of this tendency and fight to ignore it. The spaces between the packs are the safest in which to operate because you don’t have to worry about the mistake of another driver suddenly forcing you into an accident.
Don’t Go On Green
When you are first in line at a red light and the light changes, despite what you may think, green does not mean go. Most of the time when drivers run red lights, it is because they are racing to beat the light once it turns yellow. By pausing briefly and looking both ways after the light changes before pulling into the intersection, you greatly reduce your chances of becoming the victim of a red light accident.
Keep Both Hands on the Steering Wheel
It can be tempting to take a hand off the wheel while in the car. It can even be tempting to take both hands off and drive with your knees. However, by keeping both hands on the wheel, not only do you retain better control of your vehicle you also help prevent yourself from becoming a distracted driver. Distracted driving is the leading cause of car accidents, and even the safest drivers are guilty of it from time to time.
By committing to keeping both hands on the steering wheel, you are helping to greatly reduce the temptation towards distracted driving. Adjusting your car radio, eating, drinking, and, of course, using a cell phone, are all top causes leading distracted drivers into accidents. Reduce temptation and increase safety.
The level of control that having both hands on the wheel gives you can also be the difference between life and death when faced with a driving hazard, like a sudden strong side wind, debris in the road, or a blown tire.
Adjust Your Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions
When the posted speed limit is 60 miles per hour, that doesn’t always mean you should be driving at 60 miles per hour. When conditions like heavy rain, fog, and snow are present, reduce your speed accordingly so that you are traveling at a speed that is appropriate for the added weather hazard.
Obey All of the Rules of the Road
Following all traffic laws is one of the best ways to ensure your safety while on the road. Stop for red lights and stop signs, don’t speed, wear your seatbelt, don’t drink and drive, don’t text and drive, signal when changing lanes, etc. By adhering to traffic laws, you ensure that your vehicle does not pose an additional hazard to other drivers on the road.