Here are some of the most common causes of accidents, and a few tips to keep you and your loved ones safe
Believe it or not, some car accidents are actually avoidable, especially if you practice defensive driving. Paying attention to traffic around you and keeping distractions to a minimum (such as tucking your cell phone away, putting it into ‘Do Not Disturb’ mode or even turning it off) will make you a much safer and more responsive driver.
Still, accidents do happen. Here are some of the most common causes of car wrecks, and what you can do to avoid them:
This is usually the result of following too closely or being a distracted driver. Looking down at a text or at the radio even for a second or two is long enough for you to miss the car in front of you slowing down or stopping. Taking your eyes off the road is never a good idea.
The best way to prevent this type of accident is to always pay attention and leave enough space between your car and the car in front of you to allow for any sudden stops.
Side-Impact Collision, or “T-Bone”
This usually occurs when one driver fails to stop and the other has the right of way, such as someone running a red light or stop sign.
To avoid being t-boned by a reckless driver, always look both ways for any oncoming traffic, even when you have the right of way. Follow the speed limits and make sure to stop at all red lights and stop signs. You can also purchase a car with side-impact head-protecting airbags to give you better injury protection.
Parking Lot Fender Benders
You don’t have to be driving to sustain damage to your vehicle. Accidents happen in parking lots and garages when drivers back into parked cars, park too close to another car, or back into posts or oncoming cars.
You can minimize your risk by allowing ample space on both sides of your car when parking, or even by choosing a spot a little further away where there are fewer cars. When backing out of a space, be sure to physically look around and behind you, rather than just relying on mirrors and backup cameras.
Blind Left Turn
When a large bus or truck is blocking your view of oncoming traffic, it’s tempting to edge out slightly to see a little better. Always a bad idea. If you can’t see what’s coming, you can’t see what’s coming. Not only do you hold up traffic around you by blocking a lane, you run a much more serious risk of causing a side-collision.
Best rule of thumb here is to simply wait for traffic to clear a little until you can see better, or whenever possible, wait for the appropriate traffic signal. Don’t worry about the behavior or irritation of the drivers behind you. It’s always better to be safe.
Snow and ice
In Colorado, winter driving conditions can occur quickly, and at various times throughout the year. Those who spend a lot of time in the high country know it’s not uncommon to see snow and ice on some high-elevation roads well into the summer. So, it’s important to be aware of the challenges presented by snow and ice, and how to drive safely in wintery conditions.
First and foremost, slow down and allow extra room for stopping and turning. At night, be particularly aware of wet conditions in freezing temps that could lead to black ice, which is an invisible ice layer that forms on the road and can cause hazardous driving situations. Also, give your fellow motorists plenty of space. Just because you’re a skilled winter driver, that doesn’t mean the guy speeding past you in the rear-wheel-drive sports car with summer tires knows what he’s doing.
During the winter months, you may also want to consider winter tires. Many people don’t realize that winter tires not only have different tread patterns, but the rubber compounds are different than those used in all-season or summer tires. These treads and compounds are designed to provide better traction in snow and ice, and also on dry pavement in cold weather.
Hydroplaning happens when a driver hits standing water at too fast of a speed and the tires cannot push water out of the way and maintain contact with the road. A thin layer of water remains between the tire and the road surface, causing the car to slide and the driver to lose control of the car. Turning the steering wheel has no effect on the direction of the car, and hard braking actually increases hydroplaning because the tire stops spinning and glides more quickly across the water. It’s a very dangerous situation that’s luckily easy to avoid.
When driving during and after heavy rain storms, or anywhere standing water tends to build on roadways, always reduce your speed. Driving slowly allows your tires to maintain contact with the road surface while pushing standing water out of the way. You can also make sure you regularly check your tire treads and replace any tires that are too worn.
If you do hydroplane, don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, slowly apply steady pressure and let the car slow down to a safer speed.
Hitting an Animal
You’ve no doubt seen the carcasses of deer or other wildlife alongside the highway, where drivers are traveling at faster speeds that make it difficult to stop if an animal darts out in front of them. Deer and other large animals can seriously damage a vehicle and even cause injuries to drivers and passengers.
Again, paying attention is key, and keeping your eyes on the road, especially at night. When driving in dark, rural areas, use your high-beam headlights whenever possible so you can see the roadsides. Also be sure to follow the speed limit so that if you do see something near the road, you have time to slow down or even stop if necessary.
If you have been injured in an accident, contact us for a free case evaluation.