A car crash is a horrible site and even more terrifying if you are one of the drivers involved. Even if you escape injury it’s a traumatic experience and most drivers can think of several things they could have done to prevent it after the fact.
Causes of Collisions
There are a lot of factors that contribute to a collision but the number one cause is lack of attention by one or more of the drivers. Driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication or illegal drugs is a big problem, of course. One third of all crashes are caused by drunken drivers. But out of the 4,300 collisions that occur every day across the country, a third of those are caused by distracted drivers.
Anything can distract you when you’re at the wheel-a noise, a song on the radio or an emergency vehicle. But, like it or not, cell phones are the biggest distraction for drivers. Recent studies show that those who talk on their phones or text are as much or more impaired than drivers who have had too much alcohol! Taking your eyes off the road and looking at a keyboard for even a fraction of a second can result in injury, death and/or great expense. Is that text message really more important than your life or someone you might crash into?
Other Distractions You can Control
Most people in their mid 50’s remember the days when explicit movies were shown in their driver education classes. In one, a woman in a hospital agonizes over the fact that she took her eyes off the road “just for a second!” to fish a cigarette out of her purse. Although the film was fiction, this kind of situation happens every day and often results in an accident. When you’re in a car, especially if you’re traveling at a high rate of speed, a split second can make the difference between arriving safely and going to the hospital-or the morgue.
It’s a good idea to practice ignoring objects moving around in your car. You can do this in your driveway or an empty parking lot. When you can disregard it and replace it later, you’ve just given yourself a skill that might save your life.
Aggressive Defensive Driving
While that term might seem like an oxymoron, it can be your best weapon to avoid a crash. The roads are filled these days with aggressive, angry drivers who are in a hurry and will take chances to get where they’re going or to be the top dog. If someone cuts you off, let him. Don’t make a rude gesture to her or him; they are the idiots, not you. Don’t stoop to their level and aggravate the situation.
Maintain a safe distance from the car ahead. You should have one car length of space for every 10 MPH you are traveling. This can be difficult in heavy traffic but do your best; it could save you and your loved ones a lot of grief and expense. Taking a defensive driving course will help you with this as well as give you other safety tools and will also lower your insurance premiums!