by Robyn McCarthy on Jan 16, 2018
Unfortunately, auto accidents happen—and they often cause injuries and damage to property. The good news is that many auto accidents can be prevented. Here are some of the most common causes of auto accidents and tips for how to avoid them.
Weather. When you’re behind the wheel and unable to clearly see your surroundings, bad things can happen fast. We cannot change the weather, but we can use tools to help combat it. Before driving, the windshield and windows should be clean and clear and the lights and wipers working. If it’s foggy, slow down and make sure the headlights are on. When the sun is bright, use your vehicle’s visor and wear sunglasses. When rain, snow, and ice challenge visibility and create slick roads, reduce speed and leave more space between you and other vehicles. If the weather elements are too much to continue to drive safely, pull off the road to a secure spot until the weather clears.
Animals. Like the weather, we cannot control animals that come across our driving path. Wild animals are just that, wild and unpredictable. Be extra cautious for animals during the fall, particularly at dusk and dawn and in rural areas. Adhere to the speed limit and be on the lookout for posted animal crossing signs. If you do see an animal near the road, slow down, flash your headlights, and honk your horn to make the animal move. Stay in your lane to avoid contact with an oncoming vehicle.
Parking. Parking on the street, in lots, or in ramps can be risky. Crashes can occur when pulling into or out of a parking spot, driving around to find a spot, or when your car is parked and you are not around. To evade a collision, carefully choose your parking spot. Look all around and use your vehicle’s backup camera, sensors, or rearview mirror. Park within designated spaces and allow enough room for the doors to open. If you have a hard time getting into the parking spot, chances are you or your neighbor will have difficulty getting out of the parking spot without trouble.
Tailgating. No, not the pre-game celebratory kind (although, this kind of tailgating can also lead to auto accidents per the prior and following points). If you follow another vehicle too closely or the vehicle behind you is near your back bumper, you won't have much time to react if a vehicle suddenly slows down or comes to a stop. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least two car lengths or two seconds behind a vehicle. If a vehicle is following you too closely, change lanes if safe and able.
Breaking the law. Failing to obey the law can cause serious injuries and damage. Impaired driving due to drugs, alcohol, or drowsiness can be prevented by avoiding the use of drugs or alcohol and getting a good night of sleep before driving. Know side effects of any prescription drugs, designate a driver, and take breaks during longer trips. Distracted driving caused by passengers, a phone, or adjusting vehicle controls can be thwarted by keeping passengers composed and devices out of sight. Reckless driving (road rage) can be avoided by keeping emotions under control and following the law.