Fatal motor vehicle accidents unfortunately occur each day. The good news is, most of these accidents are preventable. A couple of simple changes, made by either driver involved in the accident, could stop these collisions from occurring – and they don’t require much of a sacrifice or change on either side.
So what are the best (and easiest) strategies for reducing your risk of being in a significant traffic accident?
The Best Strategies for Reducing Traffic Accidents
Follow these tips if you want to reduce your risk of being in a traffic accident as much as possible:
- Reduce speed. Reducing your speed will instantly make you a safer driver. For starters, you’ll have more time to react to things in your environment; you’ll see things on the horizon come up sooner, and you’ll have a longer amount of time to react and come to a stop. Plus, if you end up involved in an accident, your reduced speed will result in less damage than if you were going full speed.
- Increase following distance. You can also increase your safety by increasing your following distance. Try to keep at least 1 car length of distance between you and the car in front of you for each 10 mph of speed you’re traveling; at 60 mph, that means 6 full car lengths of distance. This isn’t always manageable, but in ideal circumstances, it will buy you more time to come to a complete stop if necessary.
- Obey all laws and posted signs. This should go without saying, but make sure you’re obeying all laws and posted traffic signs, no matter how trivial they seem in the moment. These rules and signs exist for your safety and the safety of those around you, so they’re always worth following.
- Watch for trucks. Truck accidents tend to be much more destructive than car accidents. This is partially because trucks are larger, and therefore transmit more force when traveling at the same speed as a smaller vehicle. They also can’t come to a complete stop as quickly, which means truck drivers need to have a faster reaction time. On top of that, trucks have crippling blind spots that make them unable to see some of the vehicles around them. Watch for trucks on the road and respect them accordingly.
- Avoid driving in inclement weather. Bad weather will instantly spike the rate of traffic accidents. In snowy and icy conditions, the road becomes slippery, making it harder to control vehicles and increasing the distance it takes to come to a complete stop. In rain and fog, it’s harder to see. If you can, avoid driving in inclement weather altogether. If not, drive with more caution.
- Avoid dangerous drivers. Occasionally, you’ll see dangerous drivers on the road. They may be speeding, swerving, or engaging in behavior like road rage. It’s important to avoid these drivers if you can; reduce your speed and let them pass you, pull over, or take an alternate route to give them more space.
- Drive sober. Drunk driving kills an average of 30 people every day in the United States. The negative effects of drinking alcohol are well-known and well-documented. Despite this, millions of people try to beat the odds. If you’re not sober, you shouldn’t be driving, period. Wait several hours after your last drink before even thinking about driving and consider spending the night or calling a cab if you need to get home.
- Pull over and sleep when necessary. Driving while tired and fatigued is almost as dangerous as driving drunk; you could easily fall asleep at the wheel or get in an accident due to your delayed reaction time. If you need to, pull over and get some sleep.
- Eliminate distractions. Distracted driving accidents kill tens of thousands of people every year. All it takes is a single glance at your phone or a single distracting argument in the backseat of your car to prevent you from reacting to your surroundings in time. Keep your eyes on the road and limit your distractions.
- Protect yourself. Not all accidents are preventable, so make sure you protect yourself. Wear a seatbelt at all times, and if you’re on a motorcycle, wear a helmet.
Improving Your Skills as a Driver
You can also reduce your risk of an accident by becoming a better driver overall. The most straightforward way to do this is with practice; deliberately practice driving in a wide variety of conditions so you feel more confident and can handle unexpected changes in your environment. However, no matter how skilled or confident you become, it’s important to follow these best practices to reduce your risk of being in a traffic accident.