Chances are very high that you will be in a car accident at some point in your life. Spending a lot of time on the road makes it an inevitability. Most car crashes are simple fender benders that don’t result in a major injury. Yet, they are a major headache nonetheless.
There are many ways to stay safe on the road by taking active measures to avoid an accident. It is called defensive driving and is taught in driving schools across the country. By taking these measures, you can anticipate what a bad driver is going to do and avoid them taking you out in a car accident.
In this article, we will go over what many of these steps are to avoid getting into a car accident whether it would have been your fault or not.
1 – Don’t text
Car accident lawyers like the ones shown on this website are just as busy these days helping victims of texting drivers as they are drunk drivers. Texting while driving has become just as big a problem these days.
Sending a text takes a driver’s eyes off of the road for up to five seconds. In that time a car driving 55 miles per hour will travel roughly 80 feet. That is a lot of road to be unaware of while doing something that is best left for another time.
In that distance of 80 feet, somebody could walk out into the street. Or, the driver can end up drifting into the other lane or on the sidewalk without realizing it. Just as would happen with a drunk driver.
The best thing to do is to pull off the road to somewhere safe. A parking lot or something similar is safe enough to stop and send that text. If it is really important then make it a quick phone call if possible.
2 – Don’t try to multitask
Most people consider themselves good multitaskers. The reality is that as people try to do more than one thing at a time, the quality of the task is diminished. In other words, multitasking makes people less efficient than when doing one thing at a time.
This is a good reason to not try to do other things while driving. Since commutes are getting longer, people have decided to try to use that time productively. This is when many people attempt to put on makeup while driving or to shave. Some people eat their breakfast while driving and others read the newspaper.
If you need to use that time to get ready for work, then it is a good idea to get up a bit earlier and do everything you need to do before getting behind the wheel. Or, take alternative transportation like a commuter train or carpool.
Doing things other than driving affects the time needed to take fast action. Imagine trying to avoid an accident when getting cut off because you have a breakfast sandwich in your hand. Avoiding an accident takes focus and quick reaction time. The time that you don’t have when you are distracted by other tasks.
3 – Anticipate
Driving defensively is like playing a game of chess. It takes looking three moves ahead to avoid an accident. Understanding how others are driving can help to determine what their next move will be.
For instance, when approaching an intersection, expect a car to turn right in front of you to beat the light. Knowing they will likely try to make a quick turn will have you ready to brake in time to avoid an accident.
Scan the road ahead of you to see if there are cars approaching an intersection too quickly. This means they may drive right through the stop sign or red light. Looking every few seconds in your mirrors will also help anticipate what others are doing behind you. A car may be attempting to overtake you just as you were planning to make a turn or change lanes.
4 – Be ready to yield
There are many times when you have the right of way but should yield it to others. Consider a green light that has been lit for more than a few seconds as being “stale”. In other words, get ready to brake even though the light is green because it is likely to turn yellow soon. Barreling through a yellow light is very dangerous as it can turn red while you are in the middle of the intersection.
When on the highway, you have the right of way and people entering must yield. Not everybody does, so be ready to give them a lot of leeway even though you are in the right. It’s better to avoid an accident than be right.
5 – Stay calm
Being surrounded by aggressive drivers and narrowly avoiding an accident is a harrowing experience. It works the nerves in a bad way. The trick is to stay calm and not give in to road rage.
Getting upset and angry make decision-making questionable. To driver safely means letting go of the anger and moving past it quickly. In case of a particularly egregious near miss with an aggressive driver, pull off the road. Take some time to regain composure to not drive while overly emotional or angry. It only takes five minutes to decompress and get back on the road.
6 – Give yourself time
A consistent theme among all of these tips is that you will be taking more time to get to your destination by driving defensively. To make sure that you have the time to pull off the road to text, or to drive more slowly you have to give yourself the time.
Leave 15 minutes earlier than you need to so there is a time buffer for an unexpected event. Rushing leads to bad judgment and less reaction time. When the weather looks bad with rain or snow then it is even more important to give yourself plenty of time.