By and large, driving has become a much safer activity in recent decades. However, it can still be dangerous and deadly. Research shows that there are roughly 6 million car accidents in the United States every year. These accidents result in 3 million injuries and another 32,000 fatalities.
How can you stay safe when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle? That’s a question we’re going to explore in further detail. In fact, we’ve come up with a list of six proactive steps you can take to significantly reduce your risk of getting in a car crash:
- Take Care of Your Vehicle
Most people wait until there’s a noticeable issue with their vehicle before they service it. But you can protect your investment in your vehicle and lower your risk of being involved in a car accident by performing regular maintenance.
When servicing your vehicle, pay special attention to things like brakes and rotors, fluid levels, battery, engine oil/filter, belts, and hoses. Preventative maintenance on these elements will keep you much safer.
2. Eliminate Distractions
Distractions are a huge factor in car accidents. By eliminating them from the equation, you’re able to keep your focus on driving. Here are some common distractions you should weed out:
- Smartphones. Under no circumstances should you be texting or using a handheld device to talk while driving. In fact, it’s illegal in many states. Use hands-free technology if you must talk on the phone.
- Vehicle controls. As advanced as vehicles have become, some of the in-cabin entertainment and navigation systems can be distracting. Whenever possible, try to use voice prompts to control things like GPS and music.
- Backseat commotion. Whether it’s bickering kids or a chatty friend, dealing with backseat commotion takes your focus away from the road and compromises your safety.
- Eating. Eating can be a huge distraction. Not only does it take your focus away from the road, but it also limits the use of your hands.
- Rubbernecking. As interesting as a car accident or billboard might be, you have to train yourself not to rubberneck. Doing so could cause you to miss what’s going on directly in front of you.
3. Avoid Common Causes
Research shows that there are six main causes of car crashes. They include rolling right turn on red; falling asleep behind the wheel; losing control (taking a curve too fast, not slowing down for water on the road, etc.); making a blind left turn; getting distracted and rolling into the car in front of you; and distracted lane or road departure. If you can avoid these six primary causes, you’ll be overwhelmingly safer.
4. Stay Off Dangerous Roads
Though an accident can theoretically happen anywhere, there are certain roads, intersections, and problem spots that make you more susceptible to being in a dangerous or deadly crash.
For example, interstate-81, which stretches for 855 miles through the United States, is one of the more dangerous highways in the country. Avoiding it, whenever possible, will lower your risk of being in an accident.
5. Watch Your Speed
The speed limit exists for a reason. It’s not to make driving slower or less fun – it’s to keep you safe. By watching your speed limit, you gain more control over your vehicle. This limits your risk to others, while also giving you more time to respond to what’s happening around you.
6. Take a Defensive Driving Course
It doesn’t matter if you’re a brand new driver who has just received your license, or if you’ve been behind the wheel of a car for decades, there’s something valuable about taking a defensive driving course. You’ll learn a lot about how to protect yourself and put yourself in a position to be a smarter, safer driver. You can find some online courses here.
Be a Smart Driver
Driving is a massive responsibility. Not only are you responsible for yourself, but you have a duty to protect the passengers inside of your vehicle, as well as the other drivers and passengers that you’re sharing the road with. Think twice before you pick up your phone, mash down the gas pedal, or make a dangerous maneuver just to save a couple of minutes. Be smart and do your part to make our roadways safer for everyone.