Car accidents can happen to anybody, no matter how carefully you were driving. All it takes is another driver on the road to be distracted, or you to be distracted momentarily at the wheel for a disaster to hit.
Thankfully, there are several things that you can do as a driver to minimize your risk of being involved in a car accident, stay safe on the road, and avoid costly damage to your vehicle and expensive insurance premium rises because of a claim. We’ve put together some of the most effective strategies that you can take as you drive to reduce your chances of being involved in a collision.
Consider Upgrading Your Car
If you’ve got the means to do so, you might want to consider upgrading your car to a safer model. Older cars tend to be more likely to get into accidents than newer vehicles, simply because they do not have all the modern safety features that are available today. Something as simple as cruise control could prevent you from unwittingly speeding on the highway, and parking sensors can be extra useful to make sure that you don’t bump into anything in your blind spots when you’re reversing into a parking space. And, going for a newer, safer model of car can also make your auto insurance cheaper.
Get a Dash Cam
While having a dashboard camera installed in your vehicle won’t minimize your chances of being involved in an accident by itself, knowing that your driving is being constantly recorded could serve as a great initiative to be extra careful.
And, a dash cam can come in extremely handy if you are the victim of a hit-and-run; if you don’t have the time to take down the registration plate number of the other car, there’s a chance that your dashcam will capture it for you. Dashcam footage can be absolutely invaluable if you need to make an insurance claim or take your case to a personal injury lawyer such as one at zavodnicklaw.com, since it can help to prove fault and show exactly what happened.
Pull into Traffic Slowly
Whenever you are pulling out of a junction and into traffic, do so slowly and cautiously. Junctions are often the number one location for collisions because drivers pull out without checking correctly. Stop, look around and listen while being very aware of any blind spots in your rearview mirrors or behind windshield pillars and nearby road signs. If you’re making a right-hand turn, look in both directions at least twice before pulling out, and pull out slowly so that you can easily stop if a car appears out of nowhere.
Use Hands-Free Features
It’s easier than you think to get distracted by the things in your car, whether it’s your phone ringing in the holder or changing the radio station for a different tune. Wherever possible, use hands-free features that make it easier for you to keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. Some cars have voice-activated entertainment centers which can be very useful since you don’t need to look if you want to change the music, pick up a call, or turn the radio off. But even if you aren’t in a position to upgrade your car, you might want to think about upgrading your stereo to one with voice-activated controls if you tend to use it a lot when driving.
Keep Your Engine Maintained
Engine problems can lead to accidents by causing sudden stalls or leaving your vehicle broken down in the middle of the road, so make sure that you avoid this by performing regular engine maintenance. You should take your car to an auto mechanic at least once a year to have it serviced; a good time to do this is in the fall so that you know your car is prepared for the upcoming colder weather and icy roads.
Make sure that the oil is changed regularly and keep your tires properly inflated; you can get a handy tire pressure gauge to keep in your car and use it on a regular basis to check if your tires are losing air. You should also keep your windshield washer fluid topped up; even if the weather has been dry recently, you never know when you might need to wash your windscreen when driving and dirt splashed on your windscreen by a passing truck, for example, can cause serious vision impairment of the road ahead which can easily lead to an accident.
It can be tempting to get closer to put some pressure on a driver who is going unnecessarily slow, but for the sake of everybody’s safety, it’s much better to be patient, avoid tailgating and keep at least a three-second cushion between you and the car in front of you. Only pass them when it is safe and legal to do so.
Look Backwards When Backing Out
It can be easy to get into the habit of using your rearview mirror alone when backing out of a parking space or reversing your car, but fender benders in parking lots are some of the most common accidents to occur, so it’s best to turn around and get a better view when reversing. Look out for any cars that might be leaving parking spaces nearby or passing as you back out and keep your eye out for pedestrians walking across the parking lot too.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
Last but not least, it’s a good idea to plan your journeys in advance and if you need to be somewhere for a certain time, plan to get there earlier than necessary so that you don’t end up speeding in order to make your appointment. As tempting as it might be when you are in a hurry, speeding is one of the major causes of accidents and it’s much less stressful when you know you have plenty of time if you get stuck in a traffic jam or behind a slow-moving vehicle.
While some car accidents are unavoidable, as a driver, there is plenty that you can do each time you’re behind the wheel to reduce your risk of a collision and improve road safety for yourself and those around you.