Nobody wants to get into a car accident, but if you don’t do your homework, you could be the one who causes one. At Richardson Richardson Boudreaux, PLLC, we are pleased to announce our weekly blog series, Car Crash Coursework. In 4 steps, you can learn how to prevent, prepare for, and persevere in the event of a car accident.
The first step, of course, is preventing car accidents. So, let’s get started.
CHECK YOUR CAR
Before you even get on the road, you should make sure your car is safe and ready. Make sure your mirrors are clean and properly adjusted for maximum visibility and remove any obstructions from your windshield. You should also go in for regular tune-ups and keep your tires properly inflated. It doesn’t matter how well you drive if your car has a mechanical failure on the road.
FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD
To drive safely, you must know and follow the rules of the road. In Oklahoma, all licensed drivers are required to pass a written test on the rules of the road. If you’ve passed this test, you should be familiar with speed limits, right-of-way, and traffic signs and signals. Now, all you have to do is follow them!
Traffic citations are frequently issued for speeding because it is one of the most dangerous behaviors on the road. Going too fast can take away valuable reaction time and lead to preventable accidents. It can also worsen any accident that couldn’t be avoided.
Your speed should not only be regulated by the speed limit, but also by the weather conditions and the flow of traffic. If visibility is limited, slow down. If the road is wet, slow down. If everyone else around you is slowing down, you guessed it – slow down!
PRACTICE DEFENSIVE DRIVING
Defensive driving is a way to be prepared for the unexpected. To drive defensively, you must anticipate the actions of others. This means you should always be watching for potential hazards, scanning ahead, and keeping your eyes moving. Instead of focusing exclusively on the car in front of you, for example, try to know where you will be in 10 or 15 seconds and be sure to check your rearview and side mirrors frequently. You should also be prepared to take evasive action if another car stops suddenly or attempts to make an unsafe lane change. Other dangers, like children, animals, and road and weather conditions should also be anticipated.
Part of defensive driving is helping others expect your actions as well. Try to stop slowly, instead of slamming on the brakes, and be sure to use your turn signal before you change lanes. Avoid tailgating and don’t get too attached to your position in traffic. Keeping a 2-3 second “space cushion” between you and the cars around you could be the difference between a collision and staying safe.
AVOID DISTRACTED DRIVING
Keep both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road at all times. Minimize distractions by queuing up your music, climate control, and navigation before you get into the car. Save meals and phone calls for moments in which you’re not driving. If you have to adjust something, make sure to keep at least one hand on the wheel. Do not, under any circumstances, text while driving. If you must deal with an urgent matter, take the safe route and pull over.
NEVER DRIVE UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Thirty-one percent of traffic fatalities are caused by a driver who is impaired by alcohol. If you have been drinking, always call a cab or rideshare service to get home safe. You can always pick up your car in the morning. If you don’t want to leave your car somewhere overnight, consider designating a driver for drop-off and pick-up. This way, if you plan to drink, you can avoid driving altogether.
Illegal and prescription drugs can also impair. Never get into the driver’s seat if you feel drowsy, and don’t drive while using medication until you know how it affects you.
SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED
No matter how perfectly you drive, accidents happen. Conditions beyond your control, or the negligent behavior of other drivers, can still cause an accident.
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to prepare for a collision before it even happens.
Tune in next week for Car Crash Coursework Pt. 2: Being Prepared.