We tend to feel like auto accidents happen to others, but not us. We take driving for granted and hope nobody crashes into us. But the reality is that the highways are dangerous places to be, and we need to do all we can to increase our chances of avoiding crashes and serious injury. You may not be able to control the skill, actions or speed of other drivers, but there ARE ways to reduce your chances of having an auto accident AND reduce the level of injury should you crash. First and foremost – it is always safer to be buckled in with your seatbelt than not, so starting today, BUCKLE UP every time!
You can also help yourself by knowing what to do should you be involved in a motor vehicle accident. Consider these Do’s and Don’ts for driving:
- DO examine your vehicle regularly. Make sure nothing is hanging off the undercarriage or coming loose. Be sure you have oil in your vehicle and it is kept at the right level. Examine tires for wear – don’t ride with little or no tread, as this can cause a blowout and a possible wreck.
- DO follow posted signs, don’t make illegal turns, and don’t run red lights. You are putting yourself and others at risk to save just a minute of time.
- DO be constantly aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re heading onto the highway or on the back-streets, be aware of who and what is around you. We tend to go on autopilot during long car rides or when freeway driving, and losing focus can raise your risk for an accident.
- DO keep an emergency kit in your car which includes: a camera, pen and paper for taking notes, a card with any medical information paramedics should know about you, as well as a set of small cones or warning triangles.
- DO learn the proper way to get back on the road if you run off the burm, and learn how to handle your vehicle in a spin or a swerve. Go to a practice course/take a safe driver’s course.
- DON’T drive unless you have to if weather is bad. Heavy rain and fog can make driving dangerous. Don’t put yourself in a situation where you are driving in limited visibility unless it is absolutely unavoidable. Driving in bad weather conditions is an easy way to up your chances of being involved in an auto accident.
- DON’T get into a car with a drunk driver. It simply isn’t worth the risk to ride with someone whose reaction time and skills are impaired by alcohol. Anything more than one drink and that driver is over the legal limit. Be willing to take taxis when out with friends and share the cost if you can’t get a designated driver.
- DON’T primp in the mirror, do your hair or makeup while driving. Tempting when you are running late – but risky. It is far more important to concentrate on the cars in front of you. It only takes a few seconds in the mirror to miss something or improperly gage the flow of traffic.
- DON’T use that phone! Another big distraction – the cell phone – make your calls before getting in the car, and return calls when you reach your destination. Calls and texts should only be done if you are off the road – pull over to use your phone, then resume driving.
- DON’T get irate and argue at the scene of an accident. It’s never a good idea to get aggressive during this situation. It’s important to swap insurance information then don’t speak until the police arrive. Take pictures of the scene if you can. Focus on taking notes about what happened, not on yelling at the other driver.
- DON’T hesitate to report a reckless driver. If you see a car going well above the speed limit, or driving recklessly, call Highway Patrol and report the license plate – just put that number in your phone (but don’t call until you pull over!)
Teach yourself and your loved ones these safe driving tips and you will lessen your chances for an auto accident or injury. Always be safe when walking or biking too – watch for upcoming articles on pedestrian and cycling safety!