Car accidents are terrifying and seemingly inevitable. If you drive for long enough, it seems like you’re bound to get into an accident eventually, and it’s a risk that about 225 million Americans are willing to take. Unfortunately as a driver, you are always vulnerable to the risk of other drivers behaving recklessly, but some of those dangers can be limited by following a few easy guidelines.
1. Follow the 2/3/4 Second Rule
The 2 second rule refers to the technique where you make sure the car in front of you is always at least two seconds in front of you. You can do this by counting the time it takes between when they pass a mark on the road and when you pass the mark. The time should increase to three and then four seconds as you reach higher speeds or as conditions get worse. Stopping distances increase dramatically with the addition of rain, sleet, and snow.
Leaving space between you and the car in front of you is absolutely vital for keeping you and the people around you safe. It gives you enough time to react to hazards and decreases the risk of you being cut-off by impatient drivers.
One of the sacrifices you make when leaving a gap between you and the car in front of you is the exclusivity of your lane. People will have space to merge in front of you, but as long as you are keeping pace with the car in front of you and they’re keeping pace with the car in front of time, you’ll get where you’re going just as fast.
2. Stay Focused (No Phones)
Driving is an all-hands-on-deck activity, meaning all of your focus should be on driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) a total of 2,841 people died in distraction-affected crashes, a number which comes alongside a steadily increasing number of drivers actively using hand-held devices while driving.
Distractions can come from a thousand things other phones, including but not limited to:
- Styling hair/makeup
- Adjusting radio
- Adjusting climate control
- Conversations with people in the car
- Adjusting navigation
- Simply losing focus
Of course, no one enters a stasis in which they don’t need food, water, or mental stimulation when they’re driving, which is why people do things when they’re driving. One way to avoid doing anything major while driving is to have a passenger who is a designated task-doer. They are to handle the music, navigation, snack distribution, and making sure the driver is awake. If a passenger isn’t available, you should ensure that everything is ready to go before setting the car into motion. Make sure the water bottle is within reach, the music is set, and the navigation is ready.
3. Don’t Drink or Get High
This shouldn’t have to be said, but it does. Don’t drive while impaired. Don’t think you’re not impaired when you have been drinking or using. According to NHTSA, there were 36,560 deaths due to alcohol-impairment-affected accidents. How many of them do you think thought they were ok to drive?
If you are planning on drinking, ensure that you either have a designated driver or the ability to get where you need to go via public transportation, cabs, or ride-share apps. Driving while impaired is an enormous risk for both you and everyone around you.
4. Don’t Speed (or at Least Follow the Flow of Traffic)
Physics states that momentum is mass times velocity. The mass of a 2018 Toyota Camry is between 3,200 and 3,500 pounds, and freeway speeds in america range from 65-80 miles per hour. Without doing all the calculations, it should be clear that that’s a lot of momentum, and not a lot of stopping power, and a Toyota Camry isn’t even a big car. Going even ten miles per hour over the speed limit can increase the potential damage of a crash significantly.
In situations where the speed of traffic is high, it’s especially important to follow step 1: follow the 2/3/4 second rule. That gap could be the difference between rear-ending a car while driving at extremely high speeds and successfully stopping or changing lanes.
5. Stay Observant/Predictive
You should always know what’s around your car when you’re driving. The best way to avoid cutting off the bicycle in your blind spot is to see the bicycle when it enters your blind spot. This means checking your mirrors. All of them. Constantly. By regularly glancing at all your mirrors you will be able to remain focused on driving while also preparing for traffic that might be coming up behind you.
The other reason why you need to be observant is that not all risks come in the form of large automobiles. Over 7,000 nonoccupants of vehicles died in car crashes in 2018, with both pedestrian and bicycle deaths increasing from 2017. As a driver it can be easy to forget about anything smaller than a car, but nonoccupants are incredibly vulnerable to injuries in accidents.
6. When in the Market for a New Car, Get All the Safety Features
If you have the option when buying a car, either new or used, try and get as many up-to-date safety features as you can. These features can be either absolutely necessary for any car built in the current century (anti-lock brakes, power steering) or just really beneficial (back-up cameras, blindspot monitors). These features help to save lives and improve driver and nonoccupant safety, and are worth the investment.
The best way to avoid getting into a car accident, and a proceeding trial, is by driving safely. This will also protect you from being held responsible from any car accidents you might get into. If you can prove that you did everything you could to keep yourself and those around you safe, you will be on solid ground.
If you do end up in an accident, make sure that your first call is to Parker Layrisson, personal injury attorney. Here we work to get you back on your feet while protecting your assets.