It’s nice to know that if you’re injured in a car accident, California car accident law is there to protect your interests and get your life back to normal. However, the easiest way to keep from having to get your life back to normal in this manner is by doing everything you can to avoid being in a car accident in the first place.
In this article we’re going to look at some of the pro-active steps that you can take to make your time behind the wheel safer for you, your passengers, and for fellow drivers on the road.
Stay to the Right
When you’re driving, you’re safer if you stay to the right. Statistics show that the majority of car accidents occur or involve the left lane on a highway or freeway. This is because if something happens in front of you that you need to avoid and you’re in the left lane, you have fewer options available to you that will get you out of harm’s way.
Also, when you’re in the left lane, you’re likely among the fastest objects on the road. This means that your reaction time is reduced and your stopping distanced is lengthened.
Stay Focused on the Road
When you’re driving it is imperative that you remain alert and focused on the road in front of you. It’s easy to take driving for granted. You do it every day. You usually take the same routes. It’s routine behavior, so it lulls you into a false sense of complacency and safety. The truth is that a car traveling 65 miles per hour travels nearly 100 feet every second.
Under the best conditions, the reaction time of the average driver is about 1.5 seconds. The average braking time is 2.3 seconds. That means that at 65 mph, if something happens in front of you, your car will travel 230 feet before you even begin to apply your brakes. This time and distance both lengthen when you’re not paying attention to the road.
Understand Blind Spots
Every vehicle has blind spots – places where the driver’s vision is obscured because the vehicle’s mirror system doesn’t reach there. When you’re driving, you need to be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots. A high number of car accidents occur because a driver changed lanes, made a turn, or took some other action while another vehicle was in their blind spot.
Check your blind spots before you take an action to make sure that no one is in them. Also be aware of the blind spots of the other vehicles around you. Stay out of them when possible, and reduce your time in them when you can’t.
Drive with Your Hands in the Correct Position
A lot of people drive with one hand on the wheel. The problem is that in a critical situation, one hand does not give you enough control over the vehicle. You are more likely to lose control or be unable to move your vehicle out of the way of whatever is about to collide with you.
The best and safest way to avoid this situation is to have your hands in the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions on the steering wheel. This position optimizes your ability to stabilize the vehicle and move it quickly, should the need arise.
Sit Close, but Not Too Close
Many drivers have their seats either too far away from the wheel or too close. Both positions have their disadvantages. When you sit too far away your hands get fatigued when holding the wheel and the tendency is to let them sit in your lap while you steer. In addition, your feet cannot fully depress the brake pedal in an emergency.
Likewise, if you sit too close, you cannot effectively grip the wheel or steer efficiently. Your feet are also too close to the pedals, especially the accelerator. In a collision, your foot may become jammed into the accelerator causing you to collide with other objects with even more force. The ideal position is to sit close enough to the wheel so that your wrists can drape over the top of the wheel while your back is pressed fully against the seat.
Be Aware of the Vehicles Around You
You can be taking every safety precaution while you drive and still be in danger. That’s because the drivers around you may not be taking these same precautions. This means that you always have to be aware of the vehicles around you and how they are behaving. Abrupt lane changes, tailgating, swerving, and weaving are all signs that indicate a driver is either aggressive, unaware, impaired, or all three. When a vehicle near you does any of these things, your best bet is to drop back and keep a safe distance from them.
Drive Sober and Rested
While this may seem obvious, it does need to be said. A significant amount of traffic accidents are caused by or involve drivers who are chemically impaired or are simply too tired to be driving safely. Intoxication and tiredness can both cause a drop in attention span and an increase in reaction time. They can both also cause a driver to nod off while behind the wheel. Never drive a vehicle if you’ve been using intoxicants or if you are not well-rested.
Be More Aware at Night
Statistically speaking, more vehicle accidents occur at night than during the day. This stands to reason. It is more difficult to discern objects at night. It is also more difficult to judge distances. A driver’s eyes can become more fatigued in the dark, especially if the headlights of oncoming traffic are bright. In addition, there are more intoxicated people behind the wheel after dark than there are in the daylight hours.
All of this adds up to increased safety risks when driving at night. If you have to drive after dark, make sure that you take more care, keep a greater interval between your vehicle and the car in front of you, and reduce your speed.