Car accidents are incredibly common, unfortunately. Nearly 1.3 million people die in a car crash every year, and between 20 and 50 million are injured. According to a New York Times article, the number of U.S. traffic deaths has increased 14 percent over the last two years, and it’s the highest in more than 50 years.
In response to this, car manufacturers are investing in self-driving vehicles and other mechanical safety features that are aimed at reducing distracted driving. But Ralph Nader, consumer advocate for the National Transportation Safety Board, says the solutions must go deeper.
“The way to bring down the rise in deaths is with a wide range of the nuts-and-bolts measures, not self-driving cars,” he commented to The New York Times. In other words, cutting car accidents across America starts with us.
If you want to help create safer roads, here are eleven things you can do.
1. Keep Your Vehicle in Good Shape
Basic car maintenance will do more than ensure a long-lasting vehicle. It will also help you avoid car accidents in the future. Squeaky brakes hamper quick stops, and bald tires are more likely to burst at any moment, especially at high speeds. It’s also smart to check that head- and tail-lights are bright and in good working condition to prevent accidents in the night time.
2. Be Wary on Weekends
Car accidents are more common on certain days of the week. This collection of accident statistics in Baton Rouge, for example, shows that Fridays and Saturdays are the most common for car accidents. It also indicates the type of accidents that are most common. Study the information so you can be more careful on your next weekend drive.
3. Focus on the Road
In-car distractions are the cause of more than 3k deaths and 400k injuries every year. You can do your part by putting your cell phone away, touching the radio minimally if at all, and focusing more on the road than the other people in the car. Evaluate your activities while you drive and make changes with regard to things that could put yourself and the others in danger.
4. Control Your Need for Speed
Speeding is another significant factor in crashes. It’s the cause of about 30 percent of all fatal collisions. It’s so easy to get comfortable behind the wheel and drift a few miles above the speed limit, especially when you’re on a familiar route. But speeding can dull your sensitivity to the conditions around you and make the vehicle harder to control. Do yourself and the other drivers a favor, and slow down.
5. Avoid Rapid Acceleration and Braking
Not only does rapid acceleration eat more fuel, but it increases your risk. It’s harder to monitor people around you and stop suddenly if you’re racing. Braking too quickly can also be a recipe for disaster. It’s hard on your brake pads, and you’re more likely to cause a rear-end collision.
6. Play Defensively on the Road
In most driver education courses, you’re advised to be a defensive driver, but many drivers soon forget. A defensive driver stays well aware of everyone else on the road. He or she checks his blind spots, stops well behind the line, looks our for cars even at green lights, and watches for pedestrians getting ready to cross the street.
7. Watch Other Drivers
A big part of driving defensively is keeping aware that you’re not the only driver on the road. Watch out for at-risk drivers. You might do everything you’re supposed to, but if another driver is weaving between lanes, speeding, or driving recklessly, you could still end up in a crash.
8. Stay in Good Shape to Drive
We all know that drunk driving is very dangerous, but that’s not the only time you shouldn’t drive. A report from US News revealed that in some cases, sleep-deprived drivers may be more dangerous than drunk ones. Illness, impaired vision, and other health issues can diminish road safety as well.
9. Brush Up on Driving Rules
Do you remember how long you’re supposed to pause at a stop sign, or how to change lanes properly when you approach an intersection? If you’re like many other drivers, you’ve forgotten these rules sometime after obtaining your license. Review the rules in your state to keep your risk for a car accident to a minimum.
10. Check Your Blind Spot
Your side and rearview mirrors can only tell you so much. Every vehicle has a “blind spot” on both sides of the car or truck. You won’t always be able to perceive another vehicle that’s passing in the next lane if you depend only on your mirrors. When you prepare to make a turn or change lanes, always glance quickly behind you first.
11. Use Your Blinker
The blinker is a defensive driving tool that alerts the other drivers about your intentions. When other vehicle operators know where you’re headed before you start the move, they’re less likely to end up in your path. It’s also a courtesy that gives other drivers more confidence when they’re on the same thoroughfare as you.