Car accidents are a leading cause of injuries and deaths in Texas and throughout the country. In 2020, the Texas Department of Transportation stated that there was one reportable crash every one minute and seven seconds. There were 14,656 serious injuries and 3,896 deaths from traffic accidents in 2020 alone. As a motor vehicle driver, use the following top five car safety tips to decrease your risk of getting into an accident.
Keep Your Vehicle Well-Maintained
Do not underestimate the importance of keeping your vehicle properly maintained. The parts and equipment of your car are what keep it in safe operating condition. Neglecting routine vehicle maintenance, such as checking the tires, fluids, windshield wipers and lights can lead to dangerous equipment breakdowns or malfunctions on the road. A tire in need of replacing could have a blowout in transit, for example, causing a rollover accident. Learn about your car’s safety features and how to use them, as well, such as autopilot features and lane departure warnings.
Practice Defensive Driving
Defensive driving is a technique that can help you be a more prudent driver. It is a driving style that allows a motorist to more easily identify and predict – and, thus, avoid – hazards. Defensive driving goes beyond simply obeying traffic laws and into a greater overall awareness of the road and foreseeable hazards, allowing the driver to make fast and well-informed decisions.
To practice defensive driving, always pay attention to your surroundings. Mark where other motorists are around you, as well as how they are driving. Rather than assuming that the drivers around you are safe and will obey the law, assume the opposite. Be constantly alert to the possibility of a driver near you breaking the rule and putting you in danger. Defensive driving can allow you to react more quickly to changing roadways situations, decreasing your risk of getting into an accident.
Distracted driving is a serious problem. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, driver distractions are responsible for 3,142 lives lost in 2019. This represented 9 percent of all fatal car accidents that year. Driver distractions, such as cell phones, food and drinks, passengers, and personal grooming, take a driver’s attention away from driving and increase the risk of a car accident.
It is important to avoid anything that might take your eyes, hands or attention off of the driving task. This includes emotional distractions, such as driving angry. Keep children seated and avoid driving with pets to minimize distractions.
Be Aware of Blind Spots
Many drivers underestimate the importance of scanning the road with their eyes or overestimate the capabilities of their mirrors. Every vehicle, no matter how it is designed, has blind spots. Always be aware of your blind spots and do what you can to minimize them by being cautious when changing lanes.
Use your turn signals, travel at a safe speed and only change lanes when you have confirmed that it is safe to do so with your own eyes, not just your mirrors. Be aware of other drivers’ blind spots, as well, especially when driving near a big rig. Do your best to avoid driving directly next to another vehicle while traveling at the same speed.
Never Drive While Impaired
Finally, never drive while impaired. While this refers to the most common form of impaired driving – driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol – it also means driving while impaired by drowsiness or anything else. If your ability to stay awake and alert, pay attention to the road, and physically control a motor vehicle is compromised or impaired by anything, including prescription medications or a medical condition, do not drive. Driving while impaired significantly increases the risk of a car accident.