Every year, more than two million car accidents occur on roadways across the United States. Those accidents cause more than 2.3 million injuries and 37,000 fatalities. What’s more, car accidents are considered the leading cause of death in the U.S. among healthy citizens. So, what can drivers do to protect themselves and help prevent car accidents?
Preventing car accidents is a task that falls on every licensed driver. Do your part, and check out these 10 tips for driving safely you don’t want to miss.
Whether you are traveling alone or with passengers, commuting to work or taking a much-needed vacation, there are some safe driving tips that can help you, and others, stay safe on the road. However, should you ever be involved in a car accident, be sure to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer capable of getting you the compensation you deserve.
1. Never Drink And Drive
Over 30 percent of all car accident fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drunk driving. Alcohol, even in small quantities, can impair your ability to think, maneuver, and react quickly. Not only is it dangerous, but it is also illegal to drive after consuming alcohol. Never drink and drive.
2. Obey The Speed Limit
No one wants to be the person driving slowly in the fast lane. But that does not mean that you should treat ordinary roadways like a personal Audubon. Speeding is a significant factor in car accident injuries and fatalities. In 2008, more than 11,600 people lost their lives in speeding-related accidents. Arriving on time is important, but so is arriving alive.
3. Put Away Distractions
Distracted driving causes a significant portion of car accidents each year. It is also responsible for more than 2,000 traffic fatalities. Drivers should put away distractions while driving, such as cell phones, GPS devices, food, makeup, reading materials, or anything that takes your eyes off the wheel.
4. Get Plenty Of Rest
Most drivers can relate to being stuck in traffic and feeling that warm drowsiness of fatigue creep in. Fatigued driving can be more than inconvenient, however. It can be deadly. Researchers at Virginia Tech have estimated that as many as 20 percent of car accidents involve sleepiness or fatigue. Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel, and if you are traveling long distances, take plenty of breaks.
5. Always Wear A Seat Belt
Regardless of how uncomfortable they may be, the fact is that seat belts save lives. Wearing a seat belt is important for drivers and passengers of any age, but is especially important for children. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has estimated that 70 percent of fatalities among passengers 13-15 years old were the result of not being properly secured.
6. Beware Of Weather Conditions
Driving in the rain, ice, snow, fog, or at night can be dangerous. Drivers should always be extra cautious in these situations and drive in a way that is appropriate for conditions. That may mean slowing down, using lights or wipers, leaving extra space between other cars, or even waiting out a bad storm. Poor visibility is a common factor in car accidents, but often these accidents could be avoided.
7. Avoid Tailgating
Speaking of leaving enough room between other vehicles, drivers should be careful to avoid tailgating. Yes, that means backing off of the car in front of you, even if they are driving at a glacial pace. Even at slow speeds, a rear-end collision can cause injuries and property damage. Most rear-end collisions could be avoided if enough room was left between the vehicles.
8. Stay Aware And Alert
As expressed by Bethaney Embry, founder of The Embry Law Firm, “No matter how safe you believe you are, you cannot control the actions of others.” For that reason, one of your best strategies for driving safely is being aware and alert at all times. Never assume that other drivers will “get the message” or “get out of the way”. Always be prepared for other drivers to suddenly swerve, stop, change lanes, turn without signaling, or attempt to pass you. It is also a good idea to stay aware of potentially dangerous situations where “road rage” could become a factor in your immediate surroundings.
9. Be A Defensive Driver
Many insurance companies offer discounts if you take a defensive driving course, and their reasoning is sound. Drivers who are defensive are more likely to be alert and drive appropriately. Remember, however, that defensive does not mean aggressive. Being defensive means protecting yourself by following the rules of the road, obeying the law, and being cautious and courteous of other drivers. Being defensive is a great safety tip, and can also save money.
10. Properly Maintain Your Vehicle
Much like an annual checkup helps you be sure your body is healthy, you should also give your vehicle proper maintenance. Improperly maintained vehicles can be a danger on the road, especially if there are malfunctioning head/brake lamps or turn signals, over- or under-inflated tires, or mechanical issues that could lead to a stall or breakdown.
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