5 Ways to Avoid the Most Common Types of Car Accidents
If a distracted driver hits your rear bumper, there's probably not much you could have done to avoid the fender bender. But for other types of car accidents—rollovers, T-bone crashes, front-impact collisions, hydroplaning on a slick surface or hitting an animal—there are a number of steps you can take ahead of time to minimize your own risk, many of which are surprisingly simple. Avoidable causes include distractions, fatigue, impairment from drugs and/or alcohol, and speeding.
Here are some ways you can cut down on your risk:
- Maintain your vehicle: Is your car healthy enough to hit the road? Are there any issues such as low fluids, unresponsive brakes, a loose bumper or side mirror, or a recall issue that you haven't addressed? Regular maintenance not only helps your car run more efficiently but can also save you from being stranded in the middle of the highway, careening out of control or becoming a hazard to other drivers or yourself.
- Be weather-ready: In the winter, make sure that your car is properly de-iced, that you've removed any snow that can slide from the top of the car onto your window (or into the path of the vehicle behind you) and that you have the proper chains and/or snow tires for inclement weather. Check your wipers regularly to make sure they're doing their job and haven't cracked and dried out, and make sure you have ample windshield fluid. In the summer, will your car overheat? Check to make sure there aren't any leaks and that fluids are changed or topped off accordingly.
- Minimize and eliminate distractions: According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are three types of distractions that can have a big impact on your driving: visual (taking your eyes off the road), manual (taking your hands off the wheel) and cognitive (letting your mind wander away from what you're doing). Make it a practice to figure out your navigation before you leave—or pull over to do so. Enable the “do not disturb" or silence feature on your phone to reduce the temptation to respond to a text, or ensure your Bluetooth is working in case you need to take a phone call. If your car has a navigation feature or a way to connect your smartphone map app to the vehicle's display screen, use it so you don't have to look down at your phone. Most at risk for distractions on the road are teens and young adults—don't assume they'll drive as safely as an experienced adult would.
- Don't drink or take drugs before you drive: One person dies every 50 minutes in the United States due to impairment, according to the CDC. Don't forget that some prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs can cause dizziness or sleepiness. If you're going to imbibe, find a designated driver, call a cab or rideshare, or stay where you are until you're 100-percent sober.
- Drive better: Speeding, tailgating, driving while tired, failing to signal a lane change, blowing through a yellow light—any one of these bad habits can set you up for a crash. Make it a practice to be mindful of how you're driving and err on the side of caution—no accident is worth shaving a few seconds off your trip. A GPS vehicle tracker can, among other things, alert you to unsafe driving, help monitor your teen, locate your car if it's lost or stolen, and remind you when it's time for maintenance.
Finally, no matter the types of car accidents, using a seat belt can be the difference between walking away from a crash and suffering debilitating injuries—or worse. It's a non-negotiable law in most places. And, no big surprise, how safe you are as a driver will impact your auto insurance rates. Connect with an agent today to find out ways you can more safely—and possibly save money on your insurance.