Car crashes happen all too often. Most of the time they seem to come out of nowhere. In some cases, there’s nothing you can do to avoid a collision caused by someone else.
You can only do your best to deal with the aftermath. However, prudent drivers do their part to make the roadways safer by changing a few of their driving habits.
People who drive with greater care are less likely to cause or get into a collision. If you’d like to make the roads safer for everyone, here are four major things you can do.
- Put Down Your Phone
Over the last five years, distracted driving has surpassed drunk driving as the number-one cause of vehicular crashes in the United States. Most distracted driving incidents occur because the driver was using a cell phone while he or she was behind the wheel.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 3,166 people were killed in the United States due to phone use on the road. It’s not very heartening to note that nearly half a million people admit to using their cell phones while driving.
You can substantially reduce your risk of getting involved in an accident by putting your phone down when you drive. Put it in your purse or in the back seat if you must to avoid the temptation.
If you need your phone for directions, use a hands-free mount and leave it alone while the vehicle is in gear.
- Have a Plan When You’re Out with Friends
Drunk driving is the second most common cause of accidents on the roadway, and it’s also the most preventable. The best way to stop yourself from getting behind the wheel when you’re drunk is always to have a plan.
You might not know when you’re going to end up drinking when you go out with friends or attend an event, but you can keep the number of a cab company handy or choose a designated driver among your party.
Claire Taylor of Integrated Family Community Services suggests asking a friend to hide your keys if you’ve been drinking. “In case the roles were reversed and it is your friend who is drunk, don’t think twice about hiding his keys too,” she suggests. “Give him other transportation alternatives … offer to drive him home or call him a cab.”
- Slow Down
You might think exceeding the posted speed limit is harmless, but it’s the most common manifestation of reckless driving. When you’re always in a hurry, you don’t often heed all traffic laws, which can get you in trouble in more ways than one.
Avery Thompson of Popular Mechanics uses math to illustrate the way that increased speed creates such dangerous circumstances. “We tend to think about speed linearly, which can be misleading when trying to determine how fast is too fast….
“You have to think about energy, not speed,” he says. “An object’s kinetic energy is proportional to its speed squared, which means doubling a car’s speed quadruples its energy.”
This means if you’re going 75 miles an hour when other cars are going 50, your vehicle will have twice as much energy as the other cars do. Even if you both slam on your brakes, you probably won’t be able to cut your energy enough to minimize a catastrophic impact.
- Know How to Drive in Bad Weather
Education can also prevent serious accidents, especially in the case of bad weather. Many drivers aren’t aware of the proper behavior to adopt when their vehicle enters a bad weather situation.
For example, do you know how to control your car when you hit a patch of black ice while going 65 mph? Most people instinctively slam on their brakes and turn the wheel away from the ice, but that is the worst thing you can do.
Hitting the brakes will cause your truck or car to skid, and turning the wheel can cause it to flip and roll. Instead, do as little as possible.
Don’t hit the brakes and keep the wheel straight. Once you’re past the black ice, touch the brakes gently and pull over to assess the situation, if you can.
Terrible conditions in rain, hail, snow, and even major catastrophes like tornadoes can be survived if you brush up on bad weather driving protocols.