Most people like to believe they’re skilled drivers. And while that may be true for a few individuals, the truth is, the statistics don’t really support this mainstream school of thought. In fact, on average, there are over 16,000 car crashes per day in the United States alone.
With that in mind, it’s important to switch your line of thinking from “I don’t need to worry about getting into a crash” to “What can I do to actively avoid an accident?” While the only foolproof way to completely avoid collisions is to stay off the road, that doesn’t mean you should be scared every time you get behind the wheel. All you have to do is be careful.
The following guide highlights some of the most effective ways to prevent an accident. By utilizing these tips, you’ll significantly decrease your chances of sustaining physical injuries or property damage.
What Do You Need to Do to Stay Safe on the Road?
Only Drive When You’re Alert
If you’ve ever been on a long trip and found yourself pushing yourself to keep going, even though you were exhausted, you’re not alone. In 2009, 7 out of 10 American drivers reported getting or staying behind the wheel, even though they were drowsy.
This may seem like an innocent enough decision, but the repercussions could be deadly. More than 100,000 police-reported crashes are directly linked to fatigue every year, with 1,550 of those resulting in death.
When you get behind the wheel while you’re tired, your focus and reaction time decrease dramatically. It becomes harder to pay attention to things like lane designations, traffic signs, and speed limits when you’re putting all your energy toward staying awake. And in the event you need to act quickly to avoid an accident (such as slamming on the brakes to avoid a fender-bender), your reflexes will be far less agile than usual.
Only get behind the wheel when you’re feeling fully alert and focused. If you find yourself on the road when drowsiness starts to hit, either ask someone else to take over as the driver, or pull over until you’ve had a chance to rest and recover.
In such a technologically driven era, it’s no surprise that people have a hard time keeping their eyes off their devices. But when you’re behind the wheel, even taking your gaze off the road for a second or two could have dangerous consequences.
Send any text messages, make any phone calls, and program your GPS before you take the car out of “park.” Avoid eating, drinking, reaching for objects in your purse or backseat, or fiddling with the radio while in motion. If you do need to deal with one of your devices, find a safe place to stop before doing so.
A great majority of accidents occur because the driver is rushing or under stress. This kind of pressure and poor judgement can easily be mitigated by thinking ahead before you hit the road.
For example, if you know you have to make an appointment for 1:00 P.M., don’t wait until 12:30 P.M. to calculate the distance and leave. Instead, look up the route the night before to plan your departure; that way, you won’t have to speed or worry about getting lost. You should also check the weather every day to find out if there is going to be inclement weather. If there is, try to stay off the roads.
Even with proper care, accidents do happen. When they do, your best bet is to work with a car accident attorney to file a claim.