Did you know that traumatic injury is the number one cause of death in people under the age of 45? A report from CNN revealed not only that unintentional injury was the top cause of death for younger people, but that cars were responsible for most of those injuries. That means getting into the car and driving to the grocery store may be the most dangerous thing you do all day. So, how do we protect ourselves when driving our cars? Our Murrieta auto accident attorneys know some defensive driving techniques that could help.
1. Focus on Driving
The first step in learning how to become a defensive driver is learning to stay focused when you are driving. Many people don’t realize that driving is a very thought-intensive activity. You have to think about road conditions, traffic signals, traffic laws, checking mirrors and many other tasks. Talking on the phone, sending a text, eating or paying too much attention to a passenger can result in a crash.
2. Watch Out for Other Drivers
We all make mistakes, and this applies on the road as well. Don’t assume that another driver saw you signal and will let you merge into a lane. Don’t assume that another driver saw the light turn red and will stop. Be cautious, and don’t take another driver’s actions for granted.
3. Maintain a Buffer
Rear-end collisions are a common type of car accident. To help prevent this type of crash, always travel with a buffer of three seconds between you and the car ahead of you. This will allow you to react fast enough to stop your car if someone suddenly slams on their brakes.
4. Be Predictable
When you are driving, you want other drivers to be able to tell what you are going to do. That means moving at a steady pace, avoiding sudden increases and decreases in speed, no unexpected lane changes and using your turn signals.
5. Practice Situational Awareness
Are you using your mirrors and checking your blind spots? How far are you looking ahead of where you are driving? Using your mirrors and looking ahead will help you recognize potential dangers before they get to you.
6. Plan an Escape Route
Always plan two paths to get out of harm’s way while you are driving. If you need to pass a commercial truck, do you have enough room to get out of the way if the truck comes into your lane? If a car suddenly stops in front of you, could you steer into the courtesy lane instead of stopping? Have a backup route planned in your head in case traffic conditions become dangerous.
7. Be Willing to Yield
One of the best ways to ensure your driving safety is to be willing to give up your right of way. If you have the right of way through an intersection, but the cross traffic is not yielding, don’t keep going. It may slow you down a bit, but it will help you avoid crashing. Also, if you are confused about who has the right of way, err on the side of caution and let the other vehicle go.
8. Mind the Speed Limit
A good defensive driver should always pay attention to the speed limit and avoid exceeding it. The faster you drive, the harder it is to maintain full control of your vehicle. Your car will also sustain more damage the faster it is going when a collision occurs. So, slow down and get home safely.
9. Do Not Drive Under the Influence
Law enforcement strives to remind drivers to never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, did you realize that even over-the-counter or prescription drugs can affect your driving? Before you get behind the wheel, honestly assess your ability to drive. If you have any doubts, do not drive.
10. Use Your Seatbelt
Utilizing the safety features of your car is a great way to drive defensively. Automatic braking and collision detectors are awesome devices to help you avoid collisions, and they come on many modern vehicles. However, there is one simple, effective device that comes equipped in every car—a seatbelt. This simple belt saves thousands of lives every year. So, please buckle up.
There are even more ways to help ensure your safety while driving on the roadways of California. To learn more, keep following our Murrieta auto accident attorneys on Twitter and Facebook. You can also catch more tips on our Murrieta personal injury blog.