Car accidents are no fun. In their less serious form, they’re inconvenient. At their most serious, vehicle collisions can result in serious injury or death. But what if we told you there are ways you can lower your risk of becoming a car accident victim?
How to Avoid a Car Accident
A serious car accident is expensive. For starters, there’s the damage to your vehicle. And with modern vehicles that contain lots of sophisticated technology and systems, there’s a very real chance that your car could be totaled. (As much as 20 percent of vehicles involved in accidents are now being totaled out by insurers.) Then there potentially could be medical bills, missed work, and all of the suffering that goes into recovering from a painful injury.
If you want to avoid circumstances like these, you need to be a smarter driver. Here are some simple ways you can lower your risk:
1. Squash the Distractions
Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents in the United States. Whether it’s texting and driving, eating while driving, looking at a navigation system, tweaking the radio dial, or breaking up a quarrel between bickering kids in the backseat, distractions can ultimately prove to be deadly.
Digital distractions are the biggest temptation for most drivers. The best rule of thumb is to avoid using your phone altogether. But if you must use your phone, keep it on a phone mount and use voice controls. These simple steps could potentially save your life.
2. Learn Defensive Driving Skills
“If you’ve been out on the roads, you know that not everyone drives well – but most people think they do. Some drivers speed aggressively. Others wander into another lane because they aren’t paying attention. Drivers may follow too closely, make sudden turns without signaling, or weave in and out of traffic.” KidsHealth.org explains.
While you can’t control the actions of other drivers, you can learn defensive driving skills that help you avoid situations where your health and safety may be at risk. With a formal defensive driving skill, you’ll learn how to scan the road in front of you, keep a safe distance behind other vehicles, avoid blind spots, and prepare for the reactions of other drivers.
3. Maintain Your Vehicle
A well-maintained vehicle is far less likely to be involved in an accident than a car that’s regularly serviced. Here are some of the top preventative maintenance tasks you should be doing:
- Change engine oil and other car fluids as recommended
- Swap out your air filter every 12 months or 12,000 miles
- Inspect tire pressure regularly and top off when necessary
- Get your tires rotated and balanced
- Clean and replace windshield wiper blades as necessary
- Check your brake pads and rotors and replace as needed
- Inspect and replace headlights when they stop working
Many of these maintenance tasks can be done on your own with only a handful of basic tools. Set aside an hour at the beginning of each month to perform a quick inspection in your garage.
4. Maintain a Safe Distance
Many car accidents involve collisions from behind. To avoid running into vehicles in front of you, make it a point to maintain a safe distance at all times.
If you’re driving at 55 miles per hour, you should be roughly 243 feet behind the vehicle in front of you (approximately 16 car lengths). You can use the two- or three-second rule to determine this distance. Pick a point on the road that the car in front of you is passing and then count how long it takes you to reach that point. If it’s somewhere between two and three seconds, you have ample time to brake.
5. Be Wary of High-Risk Situations
Finally, make it a point to stay away from as many high-risk situations as possible. For example, never hit the gas pedal as soon as the light turns green. People often run red lights within the first couple of seconds, and you can avoid accidents by remaining patient.
In terms of weather, the most dangerous time to be on the road is right after it starts raining. The water can combine with oil residue to create a slick surface. If you must drive in these conditions, use caution.
Be a Smart Driver
No matter how hard you may try, there will always be dozens of factors that are outside of your control. But by influencing the factors that you do have some control over, you can significantly reduce your risk of being involved in a costly and debilitating injury.