On average, there are more than six million auto accidents on U.S. roads every year. Sadly, 34,017 of these crashes proved to be fatal in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Based on these shocking statistics, it may seem inevitable that we’ll all suffer from an auto accident at some point.
However, there are numerous precautions you can take when you’re behind the wheel to reduce your risk of having an accident. Auto insurance experts implore drivers to wear their seatbelts, drive defensively, closely follow driving laws and be considerate to other drivers. Read on for more driving safety tips that will help you steer clear of auto accidents.
Keep your eyes on the road
When you’re behind the wheel, it’s extremely important to stay focused on the road at all times. The NHTSA reports that driving distractions cause up to 4,300 accidents every day in the U.S. That’s why you shouldn’t take your eyes off the road for even a moment, whether you’re changing radio stations or dialing a number on your cell phone.
Safety experts say you should pull over to a safe place on the side of the road if you need to do any of the following:
- Pick up an item you dropped
- Change CDs
- Look at a map
- Eat or drink
- Change radio stations
- Dial a number, talk on the phone or send a text message
- Read a newspaper
- Apply makeup, comb your hair or take care of any other personal grooming
Just say no to road rage
Safety experts say drivers should also avoid aggressive driving. Be courteous to other cars on the road, and control your road rage. While it may be tempting to yell and gesture at another driver who cuts you off on the highway, try to keep your cool. If you antagonize an aggressive driver, the situations could quickly escalate. If you fear that another driver is putting you at risk, call the police immediately.
Try to remain polite on the road. There seems to be a common phenomenon where people who are generally well-mannered in every day life lose their sense of common courtesy when they’re behind the wheel. You probably see it every day during your commute. For example, when you turn on your signal to switch lanes, the driver in the next lane speeds up and blocks you in. While it may be easy to lose your temper in this situation, you’re better off letting them pass than trying to cut them off. After all, countless accidents occur every day because of aggressive driving.
Top ten safety tips
Follow these top ten safety tips to reduce your risk of having an auto accident:
- Never drive after you drink alcohol-even if you’ve just had one or two drinks.
- Don’t give in to distractions, such as playing with your iPod, reading a text message or picking up a toy your child dropped in the backseat.
- Avoid road rage. If you come across an aggressive driver, don’t antagonize or encourage them. Keep your cool and call the police if the driver is putting other motorists at risk.
- Keep a safe distance between your car and the vehicle in front of you. For every 10 miles per hour of your driving speed, leave at least one car length between your car and the car in front of you.
- Try to maintain a consistent speed. Don’t continually slow down and speed up unless the posted speed limit changes.
- Keep your car in tip-top shape. Get regular oil changes and tune ups and check the condition of your tires at least once a month.
- Stay alert when you drive through intersections. Most accidents occur in intersections, so be sure to look left, then right, then left again to make sure it is safe to pass through.
- Keep your side mirrors and rear-view mirrors adjusted properly. As you drive, check your side and rear-view mirrors every 15 seconds to make sure you’re in the clear.
- Be aware of road conditions and react appropriately. For example, turn on your lights if you’re driving at dusk or dawn or in the rain. If the roads are wet, snowy or icy and you feel your car starting to hydroplane, don’t brake suddenly or turn the steering wheel. This could send you into a skid. Instead, ease off the gas pedal slowly and steer straight until you feel your tires regain traction.
Sign up for a defensive driving class. With the proper training, you’ll be able to react more quickly to potential accidents on the road.