Nobody ever gets behind the wheel of a car hoping to cause a car accident. As the old cliché goes, “that's why they're called accidents.” While that's a nice sound bite, it's not very accurate. In fact, most roadway accidents could have been avoided if only one or two things had been done differently.
Today we'll look at the common circumstances that lead to car accidents and what you can do as a driver to reduce your risk of ever causing an accident that's your fault.
Hang Up and Drive
There's likely not one single driver reading this who isn't guilty of checking their phone while driving. It's got to stop. The number one cause of accidents today is distracted driving and it's only getting worse. The same goes for all car electronics like navigation systems and car radios. Whatever it is, it can wait.
Until we got so distracted, speed was the number one cause of accidents on the road. Excessive speed is dangerous at all times in that it reduces reaction times and can be unexpected by others on the road. Stay at or under the speed limit or you're increasing your chance of causing an accident.
Look for Pedestrians, Motorcyclists, Bicycles, etc.
The streets are not for automobiles exclusively. The most vulnerable parties on our roadways are often not in a vehicle at all. Be aware of everything around you and pay extra attention when any of these are in your vicinity. Motorcycles and bicycles can stop much faster than cars, so be prepared.
Keep Sunglasses in the Car
Driving into blinding sun is disorienting. Keep a pair of sunglasses in the car at all times to help manage these scenarios when they occur.
Eat then Drive
Driving and eating is another layer of distraction that commonly leads to accidents. If you must eat in your vehicle, do it while safely parked not while in motion.
Keep Your Vehicle Well Maintained
Properly inflated tires, effective wiper blades, functioning brake lights and more are necessary both for you to operate a vehicle safely and for others to react to you safely. Keep your vehicle's maintenance up to date at all times and never ignore a recall notice from your car's manufacturer.
Restrain the Kids, Dogs, Cats, Birds etc.
Passengers in your vehicle who are capable of interfering with driving should be restrained at all times. A cat under your brake pedal or a kid diving over the front seat are not tolerable as a safe driver.
Respect the Weather
Blizzard conditions, heavy rains, high winds and hail can all affect a car's functionality. Pull off the road into a safe area and wait out any storms that cause unsafe driving conditions.
Anticipate Car Accidents Always
While this one may seem a bit overbearing, the best drivers on the roads are the ones who are seeing “potential accidents” before they happen. Watch for erratic driving and steer clear. Consider potential wildlife encounters on rural roads. Be on the lookout for circumstances that may become unsafe at all times and you'll have a better chance of avoiding a car accident all together.
Don't Drive When You Shouldn't
Most drivers are sensible enough to avoid drinking and driving because they know they are high risk to cause an accident (well, and it's illegal). What about tired driving? Or driving when you're emotionally volatile? Or driving while high on drugs? All of these are situations that can leave a driver less than themselves and prone to accidents. Only you know when you're not able to drive for any reason.
What Changes Can We All Make?
How many on the list apply to you?
Safer roads are a responsibility we all share. If you're guilty of any of the above behaviors that commonly cause car accidents, it's time to make a change. Everyone on the road will thank you for it!