Think about what qualifications you want when you go to purchase a new car. It’s usually appearance, cost, accessories contained within, and of course, crash test ratings. Everyone wants a vehicle that would keep them safe during a collision. And the good news is that most vehicles these days are 5 star crash test rated. Our cars keep getting made safer so we can visit collision centers less. But that doesn’t mean that collisions don’t still happen.
So here are a few ways to keep you from paying a visit to your local collision center.
Don’t drink and drive
This one is pretty obvious, yet over 30% (in 2013) of all car accident fatalities in the United States involved an alcohol-impaired driver. Even with low blood-alcohol levels, reaction time and coordination are impaired. This can cause drivers so overcorrect, be slow with accident prevention responses, and lead to severe accidents. We live in a technological run world. If you’ve been drinking take a moment to use some of that technology and call yourself and Uber, Lyft, or cab. This one small choice can help save your life and the lives of others.
Again, this one should be pretty obvious, yet you can’t drive down the road to the local shop without encountering drivers speeding passed you. Where are they going in such a rush? Most of the time you end up at the same stoplight as them, which means they’ve gained no distance and put lives in potential danger. In fact, speeding just 10 mph over the speed limit increases your crash risk by 50%.
When you speed, you give yourself less time to respond to potential collisions. If someone cuts you off, the amount of time it’s gong to take your vehicle to slow or come to a stop is affected, and you might not be able to slow in time. This can lead to fatalities, or at best a trip to your local collision center, and no one wants that.
Distractions are incredibly prevalent to drivers nowadays. We no longer just have radios, we have radios with thousands of stations to constantly scroll through, we can stream music through our phones to our car stereos, we have cell phones that are constantly receiving information: texts, emails, calls…and it’s hard to give 100% of our attention to the road. Many states have passed cell phone laws to prevent drivers from having their hands off their wheels and onto their phones. Bluetooth capabilities have allowed drivers to give more attention of their attention to the roads but it can still be distracting.
Phones aren’t the only distractions however. Writing down information, applying makeup, eating, interacting with other passengers, reading billboards and marquees, or being a looky-loo to other accidents or people on the streets can take your focus away from the road in front of you. If a pedestrian was to dart across the road, or a driver was to cut you off, you might not notice them in time to properly react.
Don’t drive drowsy
Drowsy driving is one of the most dangerous things you can do. Think of how you fall asleep each night. One moment you’re awake and then next, you’re off in dreamland. If this is the case when you’re driving, you could go to blink and find yourself nodding off. Dozing off at the wheel, even on a straight road, can lead your vehicle off it’s straight path and into the shoulder of the road, into signs, trees, utility poles and potentially other deadlier areas. People often try to compensate for their exhaustion by stopping at gas stations, stretching and grabbing coffee or energy drinks. But none of these are replacements for sleep. There are many freeway signs now that direct drowsy drivers to exits where they can get a few minutes of shut eye. The way to avoid a trip to the collision center because of exhaustion is to simply get the rest you need before hopping in a car. If you’ve got plenty of sleep but are on a long road trip, you might still find yourself feeling the pull of sleep. This is when you should use one of the rest stops or find another safe exit to take a get some shuteye. Drowsy driving can be fatal to you and other drivers on the road, so it’s important to not ignore what your body is telling you.
Always wear your seatbelt
It’s a fact, seatbelts save lives. The most unfortunate thing is to hear about a fatal car accident and hear that it could have been prevented if the individual was wearing their seatbelt. Seatbelts help you with whiplash, being tossed around the vehicle, and possible ejection.
While seatbelts alone may not save your life, take proper driving precautions mixed with wearing seatbelt can minimize the injuries you may sustain from a car accident. Being ejected from a vehicle or slamming into the windshield can cause serious injuries, which seatbelts help to prevent. It’s important to drive as safely as possible and take as many precautions as you can to avoid your car ending up in your local collision center and more importantly, you and your passengers in the hospital.
Take extra precaution in bad weather
If you live in a state that actually has goes through 4 season changes you know how drastically the weather can affect driving. Snow, rain, fog and more can impair sight and hot weather can cause tire blowouts. If you live in an area that doesn’t go through a lot of weather changes, you can often be caught off guard with intense rain or snowfall. When there are driver with little to no experience driving in poor weather conditions, your chances of accidents can be heightened. To avoid accidents caused by you, keep extra space between you and the car in front of you, take your time getting to where you need to go, take corners with extra caution, and if you feel too uncomfortable to drive through the weather, pull off the road and wait for it to clear up a bit before continuing on your journey. To avoid getting into an accident caused by someone else, remember to drive defensively and be aware of what’s happening around you. There will always be reckless drivers on the road, and people who aren’t comfortable or familiar with poor weather driving. They may not see you in the fog, rain, or snow, so paying extra attention to what those around you are doing might keep you from a visit to your local collision center.
Don’t follow too closely
This is incredibly important in poor weather conditions, but it’s equally important during every day driving. You can glance to change a station on the radio or put your drink in its cup holder and when you look up, you might be headed straight into the bumper of the car in front of you, causing a fender bender. Following too closely doesn’t allow you enough of a reaction time to avoid collisions. Even if you are paying perfect attention, the individual in front of you might have to brake unexpectedly, which you might not be prepared for. This is the type of accident that can be 100% avoided as long as you are giving yourself enough space to have a normal reaction time as well as braking to a stop.
Watch out for other drivers
Defensive driving is the best thing you can do to avoid an accident. It’s important to be aware of those around you and what they are doing. You might end up in someone’s blindspot and they might try to merge into your lane. If you aren’t paying attention to those around you, you might end up taking a trip to your local collision center. It’s important to stay clear of other’s blindspots as well as give yourself a proper reaction time if you find yourself in such a position. Even if you are staying out of someone’s blindspot, they might decide to switch lanes without looking, or they might be driving recklessly to begin with. You should put as much distance as possible between yourself and any vehicle that is being reckless. This can include speeding, weaving through traffic, not signaling during lane changes and running stop signs. It’s also important to pay attention to those behind you, as a vehicle might be speeding and weaving through traffic behind you, and you may both go to change lanes causing a collision. You also may end up with a tailgater behind you, in which case, you’ll want to put distance between yourself and them. If you can change lanes to get out of their way, this is the best option. If you’re on a one-lane road, it might be wise to find an area where you can pull off to the shoulder and allow them around you. Speeding tailgaters can cause fender benders if you have to unexpectedly brake, or if they aren’t paying attention when you apply your brakes. Be sure to drive defensively, you can read a bit more on defensive driving on our previous blog.
Don’t drive aggressively
We’ve talked about driving defensively to avoid the guy speeding and weaving in and out of traffic, well, don’t be that guy. Remember that you are sharing the road with other people and they have families and lives that can be affected by your careless driving. There are many unexpected problems that one might face while driving. Children or animals might dart into the streets, tires might blow, or other drivers might cut you off. So it’s important that you aren’t driving aggressive and recklessly so you have the proper time to react to these interferences.
Keep your vehicle safe
Vehicles require regular maintenance to keep them running smoothly. This includes fluid changes, tire rotations and replacements, belt replacements, inspections and more. Keeping up on regular maintenance can keep your car running longer as well as safer. You don’t want to be driving down the road and have one of your tires go out on you because of weather cracking, or have one of your belts tear, or worst of all, have you brakes go out on you. These issues can cause you to lose control of the car, or be stranded on the side of the road. Be sure to visit a service shop whenever your maintenance has been scheduled for. And if you think your car is driving any differently than normal, is making a strange sound, or is due for some maintenance, be sure to schedule and appointment. This can save you money in the long run and potentially save you and the lives of others on the road.
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Written by: Nicole Weisbrich