Whether alone in a car or accompanied by a passenger, driving safely is the number one concern for every driver while behind the wheel to avoid car accidents.
There are so many distractions while driving, such as texting, talking, and eating, that drivers need to learn and practice the basics of safe driving to drive responsibly.
This is behavior that could have been avoided. Every now and then, our personal injury attorneys receive a call from a distressed and injured victim of a car accident due to distracted driving. Although our attorneys are there to protect their rights and recover compensation for their loss, the grief and pain from the accident can last a long time.
Top 10 Safe Driving Tips
- Ignore Distractions
- Practice Defensive Driving
- Have a Safe Driving Plan
- Practice Safety
- Don’t Drink and Drive
- Drive the Speed Limit
- Seat Belt First
- Vehicle Maintenance
- Caution in Bad Weather
- Use the Three Second Rule.
Let’s examine each rule in detail with a short introduction. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported over 3,140 deaths and around 280,000 injuries due to distracted driving in 2019. Out of the 5.25 million car accidents in the United States, distracted driving contributes to about 920,000 accidents annually.
1. Ignore Distractions
With so many distractions coming right at you, as a driver, you must have your eyes on the road and ignore any distraction that comes your way. A driver has a duty of care to other drivers, riders, and pedestrians by taking reasonable care to avoid causing harm to another road user or damage to property.
There are many types of distracted driving, including visual, auditory, manual, and cognitive distracted driving.
By following these guidelines can make it easy for you to focus on the road at all times:
- Avoid multitasking.
- Have both hands on the steering wheel at all times.
- Avoid using your cell phone.
- Drive slowly, as speeding reduces reaction time.
Visual distractions force you to move your eyes off the road, including talking to a friend in the car or sending a text message on your cell phone.
Auditory distractions are sounds that divide your attention or completely shift it, including listening to music or speaking to someone.
Manual distractions happen when you take your hands off the wheel to do something else, like eat or drink.
Cognitive distractions are when you’re looking at the road, but your mind wanders, and this could be because you’re stressed about something or just too tired to drive.
A study released in 2006 showed that 80% of the accidents occurred due to distractions within three seconds of the event and the leading cause highlighted in the study was the use of a phone or drowsiness.
Today, 75% of teenage drivers agree to using their cell phones and sending at least one text message while behind the wheel. Leaving your eyes off the road not only puts you at risk. But others around you as well. You may find it difficult to avoid distractions.
2. Practice Defensive Driving
At times, it doesn’t matter how safe you’re driving because even if you’re driving within the speed limit and following the traffic laws, someone else might crash into you.
Defensive driving is all about picking up potential hazards and remaining cautious to avoid them. It is a skill that comes through practice and helps drivers defend themselves against vehicles, obstacles, and other drivers. Defensive driving combines safe driving practices with accident-preventing techniques. So, why should you practice defensive driving?
According to the NHTSA, more than 10,000 people die in car crashes yearly due to alcohol impairment, and there is one deadly drunk driving crash every 51 minutes in the United States.
25% of all car accidents involve the use of a cell phone, and the American Automobile Association (AAA) reports that 37% of all drivers have fallen asleep behind the wheel in their lifetime, and only 20% of the drowsy drivers pull over for rest breaks, while others continue driving.
The point of mentioning such grim statistics is to let you know the importance of defensive driving as you may be driving safely. Still, if you’re not practicing defensive driving, someone distracted, drunk, or drowsy might crash into you.
Here are a couple of defensive driving tips for you to practice while on the road:
- Be ready to react to the other drivers by seeing what they are doing.
- Stay extremely cautious while driving in poor weather conditions.
- Ensure a 2-second distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Plan for the unexpected and avoid cell phone use.
3. Have a Safe Driving Plan
When you’re going around the block for a quick visit to the grocery store or picking your friend up for coffee, you don’t need to have a driving plan, but when you’re traveling interstate or long distances, it is crucial to have a safe driving plan in place. So, what does a safe driving plan include?
- Schedule your trip in advance by incorporating stops into it for breaks, eating, or phone calls.
- Make sure you adjust the mirrors, seats, the radio, and the climate control before setting off for your destination.
- Check your car’s wheels for any signs of air leaks or flats.
4. Practice Safety
You can practice safe driving, but not all drivers on the road will, putting you at risk of a collision or an accident. To prevent injuries in such situations, you must constantly practice safety measures and safe driving.
- Maintain a safe following distance behind other cars to avoid collision in case of the other driver steps on the emergency brakes.
- Ensure the cargo in the car is safely secured so that it doesn’t fly around and cause further damage during an accident.
- If you take a cab, make sure your driver is safe and lock your doors from the streets and potential carjackers.
5. Don’t Drive Drunk
According to the NHTSA, one-third of car accidents in the United States involve drunk drivers, and in 2019, there were more than 10,140 deaths due to drunk drivers. Every day, about 28 people die due to drunk driving.
Drinking alcohol impairs thinking by reducing brain function, and as alcohol levels rise, it negatively impacts the central nervous system. To measure alcohol, a device measures the weight of alcohol in a certain amount of blood, commonly referred to as BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content.
The United States considers 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood dangerous as it increases the risk of crashes, and due to this, all 50 states have made it illegal to drive with a BAC of 0.08. Utah has taken this to the next level by making driving illegal if you have a BAC level of 0.05.
Even a single drink before driving can impair your skills and reduce your reaction time, making you more susceptible to mistakes and fatal crashes. In 2019, 1,775 people lost their lives in accidents where the drivers had BAC levels of between 0.01 and 0.07. The sad thing about all these numbers is that most drunk driving accidents in the United States are preventable if the involved drivers do not consume alcohol before driving.
6. Stay Within the Speed Limit
Speed thrills but kills is an old saying that has come back to haunt many drivers who get into accidents by speeding. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people remained indoors to stay safe, but there were young drivers overspeeding on empty roads, resulting in many accidents.
According to research conducted by ERSO, for every mile per hour you drive over the speed limit, the chances of getting into an accident increase by up to 5%. The NHTSA reported over 9,375 deaths due to speeding, and just under half of those people were not wearing seatbelts.
The NHTSA states that 26% of all traffic accidents have speeding as the main cause of the event. On average, 25 people die every day in the United States due to exceeding speed limits. After carefully studying the number of traffic accidents in the country, the results suggest that young drivers between the ages of 16 and 24 were speeding before the crash.
Speeding also greatly impacts the number of accidents depending on the type of surface the vehicle is speeding on. 16% of all accidents on dry roads are due to speeding. Now compare that to the 39% of accidents on snow or slushy roads and 40% of accidents on roads with moving water that is all attributed to speeding. There is a considerable difference, suggesting that speeding further increases the chances of accidents in poor driving conditions.
Next time you’re driving on a relatively straight highway with little to no traffic, avoid aggressive driving or the temptation to speed.
7. Seat Belt First
Many of us forget to wear a seat belt, only to fiddle with it later after remembering, so make it a habit to wear your seat belt as soon as you sit in your car. A seat belt increases a driver or passenger’s chances of survival in the event of a flip or rollover.
According to the NHTSA, in 2017, 15,000 people survived traffic crashes by having their seat belts properly buckled. During the same year, 2,549 deaths could have been feasibly prevented if the drivers had worn their seatbelts.
Here is how seat belts protect drivers and other passengers in the event of an accident:
- Buckling your seat belt helps you stay in place. If you’re not wearing a seat belt during a crash, you risk getting ejected from the vehicle, which can be deadly.
- You may want to believe that airbags are enough to protect you, but if you’re not strapped in, you risk receiving injuries or even dying from the impact of the airbag. Remember, airbags are commonly designed to work together with seat belts rather than replace them.
- By buckling your seat belt properly, you can reduce the risk of serious injuries from an accident by 45%.
If you don’t know how to buckle a seat belt properly, here are some instructions to follow:
- Place the shoulder belt across the middle of the chest. Make sure it is away from the neck.
- Avoid placing the shoulder belt under your arm, as it can cause serious internal injuries in the event of a crash.
- Place the lap belt across the hip. A common mistake that many people make is placing the lap belt on their stomach. This can put a lot of force on that region in the event of an accident.
8. Properly Maintain Your Vehicle
How can you prevent your tire from bursting and causing an accident? How can you ensure your brakes work when required to avoid a collision with another vehicle?
The best way to avoid any accidents due to a failing car is to ensure that you properly maintain your vehicle, so check the tires before you start driving and look out for the different symptoms of a failing brake, misfiring engine, and other vehicle anomalies.
9. Exert Extreme Caution During Bad Weather
We’d all like to believe that we have the driving skills to weather the storm, but that’s far from reality. Poor weather conditions affect visibility, and no matter how good of a driver you are, if you’re not able to see the road in front of you, you’re driving yourself into the unknown.
What’s surprising is that bad weather-related accidents kill more people annually than large-scale weather disasters such as tornados, hurricanes, and urban flooding.
The Department of Transportation (DoT) states that out of the 5.25 million annual accidents, 21% of these involve hazardous weather. Weather-related crashes in the country have killed over 5,370 people annually and caused another 418,000 injuries. The top contributors to weather-related accidents were wet pavement and rain.
Fog and blowing dust, or short bursts of heavy snowfall, can reduce visibility from good to just a few inches. On February 18, 2022, a winter storm in Illinois caused a massive 100-vehicle pileup on Interstate 39.
It is best to slow down when driving during bad weather, such as a storm, heavy downpour, strong winds, or intense fog.
10. Follow the Three-second Rule
The three-second rule means maintaining a three-second distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Allow for more distance if driving in poor weather conditions or bad road conditions.
Winter Driving Tips
Although statistics suggest that more accidents occur during summers than during winters as people enjoy the pleasant weather, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t practice safe driving during winters. The accidents that occur during the winter have more severe consequences if the driver loses control of their vehicle.
Driving in winter poses many challenges, such as slippery roads and minimum to zero visibility during snowfall.
Here are some winter driving tips to help reduce the risk of an accident:
- Charge your cell phone before your drive so you can reach out for help before any mishap.
- Have a snow kit in your car at all times to help you remove snow or ice from your windows and windshield to improve visibility. A snow kit should include a scraper and a brush.
- During an accident, it can take a while before help arrives. It is best to have a first aid kit in the trunk of your car, some blankets, warm clothes, high-energy snacks, and a torch with extra batteries.
- To prevent the fuel line from freezing, top up your gas tank before you embark on your journey.
- Prior to your travels, inform someone close about your plans, the route you are taking, and what time you will reach your destination.
Tips for Driving in the Desert
More than 30% of North America spans arid drylands, including the four central deserts: the Great Basin, Mohave, Chihuahuan, and Sonoran. Deserts are hostile lands, and as the weather turns extreme, it can get very difficult to navigate due to low visibility. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself stranded in the middle of one due to an accident with other cars, animals, or obstacles.
Here are some tips for driving in the desert:
- Before your journey, inform someone about your plans and the route you’ll be taking.
- It is best to avoid driving in the desert during high temperatures, especially when they peak in the afternoon.
- Make sure to pack a lot of water bottles before the trip and remain hydrated during it.
- If your car starts to heat up, make a safe stop and roll down your windows. Crank up the car heater to draw the excess heat into the heater core. This will help the coolant reduce temperature, allowing you to return to the road again.
- Wear your seatbelt if you have a tire blowout and rollover to avoid a vehicle ejection.
- If your car breaks down, let others know you need help by keeping your hood raised. Do not travel on foot unless you know exactly where you are and how far the next town is.
We have covered some general safety tips and tips to increase a driver’s reaction time. Now let’s go over some tips to help you overcome road rage.
Road Rage Incidents: How to Avoid Them?
According to the AAA, the results were quite shocking after studying 10,000 road rage cases. There were more than 200 murders and over 12,000 injuries. The AAA stated that aggressive driving increases the risk of deadly accidents by 56%. Other factors further worsen a driver’s road rage. Safe driving tips or not, sometimes angry people do stupid things behind the steering wheel against other vehicles and pedestrians.
For example, a Harvard School of Public Health study revealed that drivers with guns in their cars are more likely to act aggressively behind the wheel. Aggressive driving and motorists with guns in their cars are a lethal combination that can have dire consequences.
Here are some guidelines laid out by the AAA to help drivers avoid road rage incidents with an aggressive driver and keep at least two seconds of cushion between vehicles. Experts recommend you stay out of any sizeable blind spot and keep your eyes moving.
1. Don’t Offend The Car Ahead or Others Behind You
You never know another person’s mental situation, especially when you mind your own business. However, your erratic actions on the road can bring some bottled feelings to the surface or cause other drivers to experience road rage. For example, driving slow or using cruise control in the fast lane. Cutting other cars off will ruffle some feathers of an oncoming car driver. You should yield to oncoming auto drivers and keep a safe distance. And don’t start tapping the brake pedal either, especially when followed by buses or larger vehicles like a big rig truck.
2. Never Engage
The last thing you want to do when driving is engage with an angry driver. Ensure sufficient space between your vehicle and the angry driver, and avoid making eye contact to de-escalate danger. You don’t want to take your eyes off the road, especially if the situation stresses you.
If the angry driver keeps pursuing you down the roadways, don’t panic; head to a crowded location and call the police. You must always stay in your car and honk the horn to attract attention from anyone near highways and commerce zones.
3. Don’t Take Actions Personally
You never know the world of trouble and stress another driver may be going through, so it is best not to let their actions affect you and your day. There could be many reasons they’re forced to drive like that, but that’s not for you to find out.
Try to practice deep breathing and, instead of listening to fast songs, switch to slower tracks to help you relax.
What to Do in the Event of an Accident?
Practicing safe driving tips can reduce the chances of an accident, but it doesn’t bring it down to zero. If you find yourself in an accident, you must react swiftly to protect yourself physically and financially.
Here are some guidelines and safe driving tips that you should follow in the event of an accident.
1. Move Your Car
Check to ensure everyone in the car, including you, is doing okay. If there is anyone requiring emergency help, call 911. Once you’ve alerted the authorities of the situation, move your car to a safe spot, away from the road traffic, to avoid further collisions.
2. Stay on the Scene
Make sure you remain at the scene of the accident to report the incident to police officers when they arrive. If the other driver is there, too, you can talk to them and exchange contact information, insurance details, and vehicle information. You will need this if you pursue a claim against their insurance company. These are just some common sense safe driving tips.
Any witnesses nearby greatly help the personal injury case, so try to take down their contact details. When the police arrive, stick to the facts and do not overexplain, as you’ll end up hurting your case with unnecessary information.
3. Undergo Medical Examination
If you’re injured, head to a nearby hospital immediately for treatment. If you feel fine, visiting the hospital for a medical examination is still essential, as some injuries can take time to surface. Keep all the medical reports and bills with you, as you will need them when filing a personal injury claim.
Contact the Insurance Company
You have to inform your insurance company about the accident and the negligent driver’s insurance company, as they will guide you through filing a claim and the documents needed.
Reach Out to a Personal Injury Attorney for More Safe Driving Tips
You might be eligible for compensation if you’re injured in an accident that was not your fault. Insurance companies are notorious for rejecting claims or lowballing settlement offers. And without the help of an attorney, you may find yourself in hot water. A personal injury lawyer can help protect your rights and get you the compensation you deserve.
In California, the statute of limitations provides two years following the date of the accident for all injured victims to pursue claims or legal action against the negligent party. Two years may seem like a long time, but the constant back and forth with the insurance company can take a long time. If you’ve received injuries in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, contact us for more safe driving tips at (213) 596 9642 for a free consultation with our expert personal injury lawyers today.