Did you know that you’re more likely to be injured in a car accident than almost any other mode of transport? Most of us get into the car every day without any anxiety, but there are always risks involved with driving. Modern cars are built for safety, as well as performance, but even the most innovative of vehicles cannot correct or prevent driver errors. Mistakes and a lack of care and attention account for more than 90 percent of accidents on the roads. Bearing this in mind, do you consider yourself a diligent driver or could you be an accident waiting to happen? Here are some of the most common causes of crashes and some golden rules to follow to steer clear of trouble.
Monitoring your speed
If you drive on a regular basis, you may have come across signs that encourage you to reduce your speed and stick to restrictions. You may think that it’s fun to drive fast and that there are no risks involved in driving above the speed limit if there’s nobody else around. However, there are speed restrictions in place for good reason. When you drive fast, there’s a higher risk of losing control of the vehicle and the impact of a crash is likely to be much more severe at speed. If you crash at 30 mph, damage to the car may be minimal, and injuries are likely to be minor. If you crash at 70, 80 or 90 mph, the story could have a very different ending. It’s worth bearing in mind that if you exceed the limit, you will be liable if you have an accident and you may face legal charges and be required to pay a fine or even spend time in jail. Just as going too fast is dangerous, it’s also important to make sure that you don’t drive too slowly. If you’re holding up a line of traffic behind you, this can also be dangerous. Use the speed limits as a guide and adjust your speed in line with conditions. If it’s raining or there’s snow or ice on the road, reduce your speed and keep well back from vehicles in front, as your stopping distance will increase.
Focusing on the road
Be honest. How often do you take your eyes off the road to mess around with the radio or make a phone call or send a text message? When you’re driving, you need to maintain your focus at all times. Even if you only glance away for a second, this can put you and other drivers at risk. Keep your eyes on the road ahead, pay attention to other vehicles around you and always be wary of hazards, such as animals, pedestrians and obstacles in the road. If you’re not looking and you’re involved in an accident, it’s highly likely that you will be held liable. If you need to make a call or you want to change the CD or program in a new radio station, find a safe place to pull over. If you tend to do business on the go, invest in a Bluetooth headset or look for a car that has an inbuilt system that enables you to make calls without using your hands or taking your eyes off the road.
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Drunk driving is one of the most common causes of major accidents on the road. Alcohol affects your ability to react quickly, it can alter your mood and your behaviour, and it can also cloud your judgment. You may think that you’re absolutely fine after a couple of drinks, but often, the impact of drinking isn’t immediately visible. If you want to drink, arrange a lift or book a cab. It’s much better to be safe than sorry. If you’re out on the road and you’re hit by a driver who has been drinking, you have every right to get in touch with experts like those at Mirian Law and find out more about claiming compensation. Drunk driving puts everyone at risk, and often, it’s innocent people who haven’t touched a drop of alcohol that get hurt. Legal limits vary depending on where you are, so the safest thing to do is avoid alcohol altogether if you plan to drive.
Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you can’t physically keep your eyes open? Driving tired puts you and other drivers at risk of injury. When you’re tired, it takes you longer to react, it’s harder to concentrate, and you could even fall asleep at the wheel. If somebody suddenly walks into the road, a tree falls, or a car in front changes lane without looking, you may struggle to hit the brakes fast enough, and this could have disastrous consequences. If you feel exhausted, don’t risk driving. Take a nap and make the journey later. If you’re already on the road and you start to feel tired, pull over in a safe place, have a coffee, stretch your legs and get some fresh air and then get back on the road. If you struggle to stay awake, try and avoid driving late at night and plan journeys in advance. If you’ve got a long drive ahead, schedule an overnight stop and break up the journey. It may take you a little longer to get from A to B, but at least you’ll make it in one piece.
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Most drivers have opinions about other drivers, but have you ever thought about your performance on the road? Surveys show that most people think they’re good drivers, but the statistics would suggest that not everyone is quite as diligent as they may think. The vast majority of accidents arise as a result of driver errors. Although some accidents are impossible to avoid, most could be prevented. Next time you head out in your car, think about what kind of driver you are and do everything possible to keep yourself and those around you safe. Take your time, stick to speed limits, focus on what you’re doing, avoid drinking and take a break if you’re tired.
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