Being involved in a traffic accident is a horrible experience, even when you’re lucky enough to escape injury. Research by The Centre for Internet and Society (CiS) found that over 90% of traffic accidents are caused by human error and therefore could have been avoided. This is a rather worrisome statistic and can really make you think about your driving and whether you are keeping yourself and other road users safe while driving.
Hearing that 90% of accidents could have been avoided, while troublesome, is at least a great incentive for us to brush up on our driving safety and encourage us to lower that startlingly high percentage. Here are 7 tips for how to drive safely, which can help you avoid accidents.
1. Stay Calm
Staying calm at all times, despite mistakes other drivers make, is a fantastic way to improve how safely we drive.
Road rage and aggression is seriously detrimental to our driving, causing us to lose focus, take our hands of the wheel, or not look where we’re driving. In fact, road rage is the leading cause of traffic accidents in the USA, whether through anger or distraction.
While it’s all well and good to say ‘stay calm no matter what’, in reality it’s much harder than that. When you’re angry at another driver’s actions, how can you just stay calm? Emotions don’t really work like that. Check that no one needs medical attention, move away from the crash to a safe place and call your insurance, roadside recovery and an expert lawyer in auto accidents if you need advice.
Some of these tips are:
- Avoid driving when upset or tense when possible
- Don’t leave it to the last minute to set-off as running late causing high stress levels
- Don’t show your irritation even when really angry at other drivers
- Never get out of your car to confront another driver
2. Keep Your Vehicle In Good Condition
Keeping your car healthy and well-maintained is a great way to reduce your risk of having an accident. There are a few quick and easy things to check once or twice a month in order to ensure your car is in top notch condition. The main things to check are:
Setting yourself a monthly schedule to complete each of these checks will be massively beneficial.
Schedule a set time every month to change your oil, top up your water/anti-freeze, check all the electrics/lights are working (having spare bulbs and fuses on hand will be ideal for this task), check the tread depth on your tires is at least 1.6mm; you can check tread depth easily by using a penny - if the top of your tread reaches Lincoln’s eyebrows, your tires are fine, but if the depth only reaches the top of his head, then you need to replace them
3. Make Sure You Can Be Seen
Your visibility to other drivers is exceedingly important and making sure you communicate your actions to traffic is a sure-fire way to be seen.
Often when we’re not sure what other drivers are doing or when they’re obscured from view, mistakes and accidents happen, so make sure you’re positioned clearly on the road and communicate your actions in good time. Drive with your headlights to increase visibility, and make sure to use turn signals when maneuvering.
4. Leave Yourself An Out
No matter where you’re driving to or what kind of road you’re on, where possible you should drive so that if something happens around you, you have an exit somewhere, a way to get out of the way.
This means that you’re well prepared for any quick decisions you have to make and you’re not left with the option of just having to break suddenly and risk causing a pile up.
Having options and lots of ways to manoeuvre your vehicle is a safer way of driving.
Spacing is one of the most important considerations when driving. Ensuring there is enough stopping distance between your vehicle and the one in front is essential when needing to brake suddenly. Those extra yards can be the difference between an accident and safe stopping.
Keeping a safe distance between other vehicles also helps you to get the big picture and see the road ahead more clearly, it really is a win-win.
Try to keep a two-to-three seconds of space between you and the driver in front. Pick and object in the distance - a lamp post or sign - start counting when the vehicle in front passes the sign, if it takes you 2-3 seconds to reach that sign, then you have a safe following distance. If you reach it faster than that, you need to slow down.
So what do you do if someone is following you too closely, making an unsafe distance between you?
When someone is tailgating, it can be frustrating and often leaves you feeling miffed. Try slowing down gradually, decreasing the distance between your car and the vehicle in front, allowing the car behind to then overtake.
And voila, they’re out of your hair.
6. Take Extra Precautions In Bad Weather
Driving in heavy rain, snow or on icy roads is more dangerous than under ideal weather conditions. Stopping distances are increased significantly, visibility is reduced, and our mood is often worsened.
It’s a good idea then to take a little bit of extra care in bad weather, drive slower, increase the normal gaps, and be more alert than usual.
Being extra vigilant is the best way to avoid accidents in bad weather.
It sounds straightforward but making sure you stay focused all the time is the best way to avoid collisions. Distracted driving accounts for 9 deaths and 1,000 injuries each day in the U.S. and is an ever pressing epidemic, nearly as fatal as drunk driving.
The best thing to do is rid yourself of all distractions while driving. Even using gadgets which seem helpful, such as hands-free devices, cause us to divert our attention, so we should try not to use anything unless we really have to - and that includes adjusting the radio dials, eating in the car, or even daydreaming.
Another good idea is to set the station or playlist before you set off or let the passenger take charge of the music to add an extra layer of safety and keep us concentrating on the driving.
Follow these steps for ways to avoid accidents and drive more vigilantly and safely.