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14 Defensive Driving Strategies to Reduce the Risk of a Car Crash

Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on Jun 07, 2017 in Auto Accidents

woman driving during daytimeStrong defensive driving skills are a must for any Texas driver because they can make the difference between being injured in a car accident and safely avoiding one.

Stephens, Anderson & Cummings has compiled a list of 14 defensive driving tips to help prevent an accident. No matter how safe of a driver you consider yourself to be, it does not hurt to review these tips to make sure you are doing everything you can to stay safe when you are out on the road.

Our Fort Worth auto accident attorneys know that some crashes are unavoidable, but many others can be prevented by using some of the following strategies:

1. Stay Alert and Assess Your Surroundings

You should always be scanning the horizon to spot any upcoming hazards that could cause a car crash. Early detection gives you more time to think and react so you can maneuver away from danger. You should try to be aware of hazards within 20 to 30 seconds of your current position.

2. Look for Reckless Drivers

You need to keep an eye out for other drivers who are speeding or maneuvering recklessly or erratically. If you see any reckless drivers, carefully maneuver away from them and follow at a long distance or change lanes.

3. Anticipate Maneuvers by Other Drivers

This will allow you to plan an exit strategy to keep yourself and others safe if another driver makes a dangerous maneuver. The best way to do this is to think about what you would do if another driver sped up, slowed down, changed lanes or made a dangerous maneuver. If the moment arrives where a maneuver needs to be made, be prepared to make it.

4. Check Your Blind Spot Before Changing Lanes

Checking your mirrors is not good enough. You need to physically turn your head to check the blind spots your mirrors do not reflect.

5. Stay Out of Other Drivers' Blind Spots

In a perfect world, you could stay in another driver's blind spot and never be involved in a collision. However, that is just not realistic. You cannot count on other drivers to check their blind spots and practice other defensive driving behaviors. That is why you should never stay in blind spots too long, especially if it is the blind spot of a tractor trailer or other large truck.

6. Always Use Your Turn Signal When Changing Lanes

This alerts other drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists of your intentions so they can react appropriately. If drivers and others are not aware of what you are about to do, they will not have time to react, which could increase the risk of an accident.

7. Do Not Assume Other Drivers Will Make Safe Maneuvers

It is dangerous to assume that another driver will allow you to merge or move out of the way. Some will, but others will not and there is no way to tell the considerate drivers from the inconsiderate ones while you are on the road. That is why you should not trust anyone but yourself when you are behind the wheel.

8. Yield if it Looks Like the Other Driver Will Not

Even if you know you have the right of way, there is no point in testing whether the other driver knows that. It is better to allow the other driver to go than to end up in an accident that could have easily been prevented.

9. Maintain a Safe Distance Between Your Car and Others

Following other vehicles too closely gives you less time to stop if another vehicle suddenly slams on the brakes.

In good weather, you should leave at least two seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you. In bad weather, you should add a few seconds to that.

The best way to count the seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you is to find a fixed object and count the seconds between when the bumper of the car in front of you passes the object and when your front bumper is parallel to it.  

10. Avoid Distracted Driving

Your eyes should always be focused on the road. Taking your eyes off the road for just a few seconds dramatically increases the risk of an accident.

That is why you should avoid all forms of distracted driving, including:

  • Making cellphone calls
  • Texting
  • Programming audio or GPS systems
  • Eating
  • Looking at passengers
  • Having a heated argument/discussion with children or passengers

11. Avoid Drowsy Driving

Drowsiness affects driving in the same way alcohol does, slowing your reaction time and making it more difficult for you to avoid a hazardous situation that could cause an accident.

Lack of sleep also increases the chances that you will fall asleep behind the wheel, making it much more likely that an auto accident will occur.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that you get at least seven hours of sleep each night. A report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that getting anything less than seven hours of sleep dramatically increases the risk of a car accident.

The report revealed that the risk of an accident doubles for drivers who get only five or six hours of sleep. The car crash risk for drivers who get less than five hours of sleep in a 24-hour period is comparable to the crash risk for drunk drivers.

If you did not get much sleep, you should stay off the road and get some rest. If you are on the road and you are struggling to keep your eyes open or are drifting into and out of your lane, pull over and find a safe place to take a nap before getting back on the road.

12. Never Drink and Drive

Driving under the influence of drugs or with a blood alcohol concentration higher than .08 is illegal. Impairment by drugs or alcohol prevents good judgment, keeping you from properly assessing traffic situations. This, along with delayed reaction times, could cause you to become involved in a severe accident.

If you plan to be drinking, designate a sober driver, call a cab or rideshare service, or ask a friend or family member if you can stay the night to avoid driving.

13. Slow Down

Driving at an excessive speed makes it more difficult to control your vehicle and gives you less time to slow down or maneuver away from danger. That is why speeding is consistently one of the top causes of auto accidents.

Speed limits are assigned for a reason. The posted speed is appropriate for ideal weather and road conditions. However, you may need to lower your speed if there is heavy traffic or rain or other inclement weather.

14. Stay Calm

Road rage can cause speeding and other forms of reckless driving that increase the risk of a car accident. It is best to remain calm no matter what happens out on the road. If another driver cuts you off, just let it go.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Our Car Accident Attorneys

Despite your best efforts to be a defensive driver, you could be involved in a car accident that causes severe injuries. These can be costly to treat and that is why you should contact a car accident lawyer to discuss your legal options.

You may be able to file a lawsuit to obtain fair compensation for the damages you have suffered, including medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Your first consultation with us is always free, and there will be no obligation to retain us. We are paid by contingency only, meaning legal fees are only assessed if we are able to recover compensation.

Call (877) 920-9009 or complete our Free Case Evaluation form today.