According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 30,000 people in the United States die every year from motor vehicle accidents. The National Safety Council reported that crashes were responsible for 200,000 on-the-job injuries in 2015. Defensive driving helps avoid and prevent accidents, even in unsafe conditions. Here are eight tips to keep safer on the roads:
- Drive at a safe speed for conditions
Go slower than posted limits in snow or rain. Some tips for driving in winter weather include allowing yourself more time to travel and watching for black ice.
- Maintain enough space between the vehicle in front of you
It’s recommended to keep 2-4 seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. If the conditions are slippery or if you are driving a commercial vehicle, increase the amount of space.
- Be aware of your surroundings
Get the big picture – occasionally glance 2-3 vehicles ahead of you, to your sides and behind you. Use your mirrors and check blind spots. Maintain an escape route in case of an unexpected event.
- Be careful at intersections
Look left, right and left again before entering an intersection. Ensure the path is clear even if you have the right of way.
- Do not drive with even a small amount of alcohol or drugs in your system
Even if you are below the legal limit, small amounts of alcohol can still cause poor concentration, slowed reflexes and impaired judgment. Nearly 40 percent of all vehicle crashes involved alcohol, and prescription and over-the-counter medications can have the same effects.
- Avoid distractions, especially cell phones
Pull over and stop if you need to make a call or text. For those with iPhones, the iOS 11 update includes a Do Not Disturb feature that detects when you are driving and blocks calls and texts. Creating a cell phone policy for your company can also help prevent distracted driving.
- Pull over and rest if you are excessively drowsy
Driving while drowsy is considered approximately as dangerous as driving drunk. Fatigue is thought to be responsible for 100,000 crashes each year.
- Always wear your seatbelt
According to the CDC, wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of serious injury from a crash by about half.
There are many things you can’t control on the road – especially conditions and other drivers’ behaviors. By driving defensively, you can avoid accidents even when hazards are present.