Collisions happen every day. It’s always best to drive defensively, and knowing some of the ways accidents happen can keep you safe. Here are some things you can do to help prevent an accident:
- Avoid road rage. Change lanes when you can to give merging drivers room. Let others pass you. Use caution when changing lanes. Don’t retaliate if others drive aggressively.
- Pay attention to your high beams. Turn the high beams down if you’re behind another car or a vehicle is coming your way.
- Feel free to take it slow. Stay under the posted speed limit if it’s too fast for existing conditions, especially if it is dark, raining, snowing, or if you are in an unfamiliar area.
- This isn’t a tailgate party. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead so that you can stop in time if they slam on the brakes.
- Stay focused on driving. If you’re traveling with someone else, ask them to adjust the radio or air conditioning. Don’t talk on the phone or text. Studies show that even with a hands-free unit, your driving ability is compromised.
- Driving drowsy is dangerous. On long trips, take a break at least every two hours. If you feel tired, stop driving and take a nap or find a hotel for the night. Caffeine can promote short-term alertness, but it is not a replacement for restful sleep. Be mindful of any medications that you are taking that may cause drowsiness.
- Don’t push yourself too much. As you get older, your night vision, peripheral vision, and reaction time decline slowly over time. Don’t drive at night if it makes you uncomfortable. Increase the distance you allow between your vehicle and the one in front of you. Schedule appointments so you’re not on the road during rush hour. These are also good suggestions for newer drivers.
- Plan ahead and use signals. Don’t wait until the last minute to get in the proper lane to exit or make a turn. Use your turn signals early to give other drivers plenty of notice.
- Beware of driving in the dark. Traffic death rates are three times greater at night than during the day because visibility is reduced, and because you are more likely to encounter drowsy and/or drunk drivers on the road.