Car accidents can be traumatic, stressful, dangerous and expensive, and it is in everyone’s best interests to do everything they can to avoid being in one. Unfortunately, you cannot second guess every other car on the road, every sudden change of weather condition or every vehicle malfunction but here at our Charlottesville location, we see plenty of car accidents that can be avoided, and in this article, we look at ten things you can do that can significantly reduce your chance of being in one.
1) Keep Your Car In Good Shape
Making sure your car is a good, roadworthy condition is one of the best things that you can do to avoid an accident. This means making sure your tires are correctly inflated and replacing them at the first sign of damage with new, good quality tires. Brakes are another critical component to monitor, worn brake pads and fluid leaks can lead to a catastrophic failure and accident.
2) Limit your distractions
Using your cell phone, texting, fiddling with the radio or your GPS system can divert your attention away from the road, even if it is just for a few seconds. If you do need to do any of these things, pull over somewhere safe. 4)
3) Scan the area ahead
Don’t just keep your eyes on the car ahead of you, but the one in front of it – and the one in front of that. It gives you a much higher chance of spotting any potential issues, and more time to react to it. It also reduces the risk of you going into the back of the car in front of you should they make a sudden stop.
4) Be aware of blind spots
Adjust your side mirrors and rear view mirror to give you an excellent all-around view. Don’t just rely on the mirrors though – when switching lanes or completing a maneuver, physically turn your head and check. Make sure there is nothing on your parcel shelf to reduce your view, and nothing hanging down or stuck to the dash or window screen to create an additiona blind spot. You also need to be aware of other vehicles blind spots – truckers, for examples, may not be able to see things alongside them or close behind them due to their size. Take every step possible to avoid being in their blind spot.
5) Judge a car by its condition
The condition of a car is a pretty good indicator of how attentive its owner is. If it is marked, has dirty windows and lots of damage to the body, it can suggest that they may not be cautious. Similarly, a car drifting across lanes can identify an overtired, drunk, or cell phone preoccupied driver, who you need to be wary of.
6) Limit nighttime driving
While this is obviously not possible for everyone, reducing the amount of driving you do at night can reduce the risk of an accident. It doesn’t matter how good your vision is, it will be significantly decreased from the daytime. There is also more likely to be joy riders and drunk drivers out on the night, as well as everyone being more fatigued and concentrating less. If you do have to drive at night, be extra alert.
7) Don’t make assumptions
Never assume a driver is going to stop or turn, even if it is a red light, or they are indicating. Sometimes, when you are driving it is better to assume the worst so that you are prepared to make sudden stops or maneuvers. Drive defensively and cautiously.
8) Know The Limits Of Your Car
Every car has its limits, and it is vital that you know what these are and drive accordingly. Pay close attention to how your particular vehicle reacts in certain situations. For example, if your car leans a lot when you are rounding corners, being in a position where you need to wrench the steering wheel sharply can be terrifying. It is also important to be familiar with the limits of your car’s brakes and tires. How long does it take for your vehicle to stop when you hit the brakes? How much grip do your tires have?
These are not surefire ways to avoid being in an accident. You can only control what you do behind the wheel of a car, not what anyone else can do, but if you take responsibility and focus on the task in hand, you can significantly reduce your chances.