Sure, latest car models come with advanced safety features so they’re less likely to get involved in an accident. Combine that with public awareness campaigns and one would be persuaded to think that car crashes are on the decline. On the contrary, however, the number of people who die on our roads every year is disturbing. Figures released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that more than six million vehicles get involved in accidents, leading to more than thirty-five thousand deaths annually.
While technological advancement may help reduce the number of crashes, it boils down to how careful you are as a driver. In fact, the surest way to avoid being involved in an accident is sticking to good driving practices. What follows is a rundown of ten tips to help you (and your passengers) get to your destination in one piece.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Did you know that driving under the influence of alcohol accounts for thirty percent of all car accidents in the United States? That’s more than eleven thousand lives lost every year. Even more distressing is the fact that these deaths are avoidable if no driver goes behind the steering wheel drunk. You see, alcohol causes impairment which by extension means that you cannot react in good time in case of an emergency. Plus, you lose your coordination. Higher levels of intoxication cause blurred vision and loss of consciousness – all the recipes for disaster.
Make no mistake about it; we are not telling you not to drink alcohol but if you have to, take a cab or call for an Uber. At the very least, have a designated driver before you go out to have a drink. That way, you’ll have fun and still get home safely.
Be Easy on the Acceleration Pedal
Speed kills! While this may come across as a cliché, the NHTSA says that over speeding causes well over eleven thousand deaths annually. That’s an equivalent of thirty-one percent of all fatal crashes. More to the point, research shows that you are increasing the chances of being involved in an accident by five percent for every mile you drive past the set speed limit. Put differently, the more the speed at which you’re driving, the higher the likelihood that you’ll end up in a crash. And if you’re lucky enough to escape an accident, the highway patrol police will be on your case to hand you a speeding ticket.
So, what’s the solution? Just don’t over speed! Know the speed limits within your area and stay within them, always. Also, leave for your destination early so there’s no need to rush. Other than that, be sure to read our radar detector reviews to learn how technology can help you avoid over speeding and getting a ticket.
Keep Your Focus on the Road
Avoid distractions at all cost. We are talking about things such as using your cell phone while driving. Again, thanks to technological advancements, you can answer and make calls without touching your phone. You can, for instance, invest in a good pair of Bluetooth headset. Other distractions include eating, applying makeup, changing channels on your car stereo system and more. The point is, don’t take your eyes off the road. It takes a split second to get involved in a grisly car accident. And if you don’t think lack of concentration when driving is a big deal, then you may want to know that it causes over two thousand deaths countrywide each year.
Be Alert, Always
Your chances of getting involved in a car accident increase two-fold if you get behind the wheel feeling drowsy or sleepy according to a research carried out by Virginia Tech. Of course, if you fall asleep when driving, there can only be one result – drifting off the road or ramming into objects such as a ravine, trees bridges and so forth. So, don’t ignore the few yawns, they could be a sign that you are feeling drowsy or are too tired to drive.
That said, be sure to get some good sleep at night. Doctors recommend that you sleep for at least eight hours a day. The idea is to allow you enough time to rest and maintain your ability to focus. And if you happen to feel groggy while driving, pull over and get some sleep. You may also call a friend to drive you to wherever it is that you’re going.
Wear a Seat Belt
The NHTSA says that up to seventy percent of fatal accident victim don’t wear seatbelts. Most victims are in their teenage years, between thirteen and fifteen. More than fifty percent of adults involved in severe car accidents weren’t wearing seatbelts either. Worn properly, seat belts protect you from being thrown side to side in a crashing automobile. It also ensures that you’re not flung through the windscreen. So, make good use of a seat belt. In fact, you should belt up immediately you get into your car. Did you know that traffic police can flag you down for failure to wear a seatbelt? Yes, it’s that serious.
Drive Slowly in Bad Weather
Be cautious when driving on snow, through the fog, heavy rain and so on. We suggest that you drive slowly if the road conditions are unfavorable. When the road is slippery, you want to have as much control over your car as possible. If you’re a beginner or visibility is near zero, you can consider postponing your travels until the weather improves. And if you have to hit the road, get an experienced driver to ferry you through the bad weather. It is times like these when a GPS navigation system comes in handy especially if you’re a long distance drive. Read more about the best truck GPS to find out which model can help you stay safe when the weather isn’t as good as it should be.
Keep a Safe Distance between Your Car and the Next One
It isn’t very smart to follow the car in front of you too closely. Assume the vehicle ahead makes a sudden stop or turn. If you’re just a few meters behind, there’s every probability that you will ram into their vehicle since you won’t have enough time to react. Experts recommend that you stick to the “three-second rule” always. All you need to do is to find a stationary object on the road, allow the car in front of you to pass it and count up to three seconds. In other words, it should take you at least three seconds to pass the same object. That way, you will be conscious of the distance between you and the car ahead at all times. You should double the rule to six seconds at night or in bad weather.
Be Your Brother’s Keeper on the Road
You might observe all the driving rules but can’t rule out the possibility of the other motorist crashing into you. As a rule of thumb, take every other driver on the road as an idiot (in a good way of course). What we are trying to say here is that you should be prepared for a rookie mistake from fellow drivers such as changing lanes unexpectedly, tailgating, swerving, sudden stop and other bad driving behaviors. It, therefore, makes perfect sense to be prepared for anything. Make sure that you’re using your side mirrors and have your eyes on the side of the road as well. It is also a good idea to monitor the road, say about fifty to one hundred yards to stay in the loop on what’s happening. The more vigilant you are, the less the risk of colliding with an unruly driver.
Learn the Art of Defensive Driving
There are “aggressive” drivers out there so you need to know how to “defend” yourself to avoid getting involved in an accident. These drivers not only break rules but also piss off other motorists intentionally. Their aim is to trigger a conflict with provoking gestures, being rude and tailgating. They are both irritating and dangerous. So, what is safe driving all about? Well, it involves maintaining a safe distance and keeping your cool, even when provoked. Be ready to make small sacrifices such as delays instead of making sudden lane changes. Let such motorists drive off, even when you have the right of way. Defensive driving is safe will save you few hundred dollars on insurance discounts.
Ensure That Your Vehicle is Safe
Take your car to for scheduled servicing and inspection. Make sure that you fix any problems as soon as they occur. Change and rotate tires regularly. Also, the tire pressure should be correct – not too high or low. On top of that, inspect the brakes by a professional mechanic once in a while. In short, your car should be as safe as possible, all the time. Read our write-up on top 5 ways to update your vehicle to for more tips on how you can keep your ride safe for you and your passengers.