For most people, driving is going to statistically be the most dangerous thing that they do every day. About 38,000 people die on the road in the US every year – that is a rate of about 12.4 deaths per 100,000 drivers. That is a huge number, but do not let it scare you! There are a lot of things you can do on the road to reduce the odds of getting killed or injured in a car wreck. This is essentially what defensive driving is all about – being cautious and reducing the odds of a crash.
Being Aware of Potential Hazards
At its core, defensive driving is all about being aware of any hazards on the road, especially the other cars around you, and trying to predict and minimize risk. Keep in mind that you cannot control what other drivers are going to do, you can only control how you anticipate and react to what they are doing. This does not mean being tentative or overly cautious either! A huge part of being a good defensive driver is being confident and in full control of your vehicle so you can quickly react to any potential hazards. Here are a couple of things that you can do to be a better and more defensive driver.
Do Not Get Distracted
The most important tip for being a good driver is to stay alert! This means avoiding distractions, keeping your eyes on the road ahead of you, and making sure to check your mirrors frequently to make sure you’re always aware of what’s around you. This could probably go without saying, but absolutely stay off your phone while you are driving. Even looking down at the screen for a couple of seconds leaves a huge window for something to happen and can lead to an accident. It doesn’t matter how important that call or text is – staying safe is more important! Don’t be afraid to turn off the radio or take a pause in the conversation either. If you feel like it’s affecting your concentration, turn it off and stay safe.
Allow More Distance
By far the most common kind of accident is a rear-end collision, but it’s also one of the most avoidable. Rear-end collisions occur when one car drives into the back end of another car that’s slowed down or stopped. It’s not usually fatal, but serious injuries like whiplash can still happen in a rear-end collision, along with major damage to one or both vehicles. The best way to avoid rear-ending someone is to always leave distance between you and the car in front of you. That way, if they stop or slow down suddenly, you’ll have enough time to stop your car safely without crashing into the back of theirs. Try following the two-second rule. As soon as the car in front of you passes a stationary object, like a street lamp, start counting, then stop when you pass the same object. If there aren’t two full seconds in between you and the other car, then you’re too close!
There are plenty of helpful tricks and tips for staying safe on the roads, but the core principle of them all is the same – caution and awareness. If you don’t want to end up as one of the unlucky 38,000, or the over 4 million who are seriously injured on the road each year, then defensive driving is the place to start.
If you are ever in a car accident there are some things you should do and not do. First and foremost, get the medical attention you need right away. It is a good idea to get the names and phone numbers of any witnesses even if the other party is admitting fault. Hiring a car accident lawyer can help you get the money you need for repairs, medical bills, and on-going rehabilitation you may need. It is also critical that you are careful what you post on social media after your accident. You can find a great guide on social media use for personal injury cases here.