Vehicle owners face a lot of risks on the road. From irresponsible drivers to road works, there is always a good chance for a mishap to occur. Although the chances of dying in a car crash in the United States is one to 101, the injuries drivers sustain from being in one can have lifetime effects.
According to the World Health Organization, over 20 to 50 million people suffer from non-fatal injuries from car crashes while the United States reports nearly three million traffic-related injuries each year.
It’s always important to keep road safety as your priority. No matter the amount of experience you have behind the wheel, you need to brush up on the basics when it comes to ensuring your safety and that of everyone else around you. Here’s what you can do to reduce the risk of injuring yourself and others while you are on the road:
1. Follow your maintenance schedule
The first thing you will need to keep in mind is keeping your vehicle in pristine condition. Car crashes can also result from a failure of the vehicle owner to do maintenance. Regular checkups are needed to help you identify any problems or issues your car might have. That way, you can fix these right away before you go on a long-distance drive. In addition, you will also need to check whether there’s a need for an oil and fluid change.
As a good rule of thumb, you should take your car for maintenance every six months or 5,000 miles. If you own an older model, have it checked every time it reaches 3,000 miles. You can do most of the maintenance activities by yourself, including changing the engine coolant and replacing spark plugs. For more complicated tasks such as fixing the transmission, restoring a worn-out braking system, and replacing cracked windshields, you should get a professional to help out.
Ensuring your vehicle is kept in the best possible condition can significantly increase your safety factor. Regular maintenance can also help preserve your car’s value and increase its longevity.
2. Keep distractions to a minimum
Apart from mechanical failures, distracted driving is also a major cause of road injuries and fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, crashes caused by distracted driving claimed the lives of over 3,100 people and injured 424,000 more in the United States in 2019. Today, distracted driving is still a major law enforcement concern across all states with strict penalties levied against violators.
Facing fines or jail times because of distracted driving should be the least of your worries. Compared to the potential loss of life that it causes, you need to avoid distracted driving as much as you can. The most basic thing you can do is to avoid using your phone while driving. Even if you are talking to your phone hands-free, there is still a high risk of getting into or causing a road collision. If you are listening to music, keep the volume down just enough so you can hear passing traffic.
You can also clear the dashboard of unnecessary decorations that will only hamper your view of the road. Your safety will depend on the level of awareness you have of the environment around your car, so you need to be on high alert.
3. Keep yourself in good physical and mental condition
Even if you lack anything that might distract you while you are driving, you may still get involved in a car collision if your mind and body aren’t in the best condition. Lack of sleep and hunger can affect your ability to focus on the road. Make sure you have had something to eat before a long road trip or stop for a meal along the way.
Moreover, you shouldn’t drive if you haven’t had enough sleep the night before. If you’re traveling long distances, you should look for a place to stay for the night. The darkness increases the risk of a collision. It gets even more dangerous if your body is telling you that it needs sleep. So, if you feel like dozing off, find a safe place and spend the night there.
Lastly, you shouldn’t consume any substances that could affect your performance behind the wheel. Driving under the influence accounts for many traffic-related deaths and injuries across the country. Aside from drivers with a history of drug abuse, every state is going hard against drunk drivers. It’s always a good idea not to drink alcoholic beverages even in small amounts. A blood alcohol level of 0.08% and above on a breathalyzer test is enough indication that you are unfit to drive.
However, there are cases of inaccuracies, so if you were charged with a DUI in Pittsburgh but didn’t consume any alcohol before your arrest, you can check firms like DRKAttorneys.com for the legal help you need.
4. Observe defensive driving
Learning about the effects of alcohol and taking your vehicle out for maintenance are essential in helping you avoid a potentially fatal accident. You can’t always expect other drivers to be as responsible as you are. If you are driving with passengers on board, you need to be ready for anything and prevent a collision caused by a bad motorist.
For this, learn how to keep your distance from other vehicles. Observe the three-second rule by maintaining a three-second distance from the vehicle in front of you. You should also slow down when you are about to cross an intersection.
When you are driving on an interstate highway, avoid changing lanes frequently and be aware of other vehicles’ blindspots. Finally, make sure to signal to other drivers the direction where you are going. Following these basic driving school principles will spell the difference between safety and danger when you hit the road.
Being responsible is expected of all drivers, even though some fall short of doing their part. Prioritizing safety can help you steer clear of most dangers that lie ahead.