Most people feel safe and comfortable on the road. We listen to our favorite playlists and podcasts and think about the day ahead of us or the one behind us, forgetting that we’re actually hurtling along at high speeds, often on roads congested with other vehicles doing the same. Despite how comfortable we feel in today’s vehicles, car and truck accidents caused 42,939 fatalities in 2022 and many more injuries.
Seat belts save lives in an accident, but it’s best to avoid accidents completely. Today’s busy lives require a lot of time on the road, but there are important tips recommended by traffic safety experts that can help drivers avoid accidents.
Distracted driving accidents have risen dramatically in number in the past decades since smartphones became a big part of our lives. There were 3,522 traffic fatalities in 2021 due to distracted driving. Drivers should use only hands-free technology while driving. If you must use your cell phone by hand, pull over into a safe location. Other forms of distracted driving include eating and driving, applying makeup, adjusting sound equipment, and passenger distractions, such as dealing with children in the backseat.
Don’t Get Behind the Wheel After Drinking
There are many familiar slogans, such as “Friends don’t let friends …” and “Buzzed driving is drunk driving,” but one of the most effective slogans to remember is “If you feel different, you drive different.” That means any amount of alcohol can impact your driving. Even drinking just enough to feel relaxed and happy means you have compromised your reaction times, coordination, and cognitive function.
In 2021, drunk driving deaths increased by 14% over the previous year with a total of 13,384 deaths. If you’re enjoying drinks with friends, choose a designated driver or call a rideshare vehicle.
Limit Night Driving
For every mile driven, the risk of a serious accident is 3-times higher after dark than during the day. Poor lighting on roadways, a lowered ability to see distances, and drowsy drivers, all contribute to higher numbers of nighttime accidents.
Drive at the Speed Limit
Speed limits aren’t in place just to control you or to give law enforcement officers a source of revenue. Multiple studies show that driving at speeds recommended for specific road conditions lowers the risk of an accident. Not only that, but injuries rise in severity when driving at higher speeds. You can calculate crash force by multiplying your body weight by the speed of the vehicle. A person weighing only 100 pounds becomes a 3,000-pound force in an accident at only 30 miles per hour.
Drive a Safe Vehicle With Regular Maintenance
Look for vehicles with high safety ratings when choosing a new car and then be sure to get regular routine maintenance performed on your vehicle to ensure that all mechanical systems are in top working condition.
Avoid Driving in Poor Weather Conditions
Fog, rain, snow, and ice, all increase the chances of a car accident. If it’s possible to put off errands or other reasons to be on the road in inclement weather, that’s always the safest choice. If you must drive for work or school, be prepared for the weather conditions. Slow your speed—especially around curves—use headlights and signal lights, use snow tires when appropriate, and carry emergency supplies in your vehicle for warmth, food, and water in case of a winter emergency.
Be a Vigilant and Defensive Driver
Being vigilant on the road means avoiding drowsy driving or over-engaging with passengers in your car while on the road. Focus on the road a distance ahead rather than immediately in front of your vehicle. Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you in traffic. Drive calmly and always diligently follow traffic laws and speed limits to avoid a car accident claim.