Many car accidents are avoidable - and they are not only one way to ruin your day, but can lead to injury, stress and possible legal action. There is almost inevitably financial loss due to the cost of the collision repairs and the annoyance factor while your car gets fixed.
Want to know what you can do to avoid one? There are many things you can do involving the maintenance of your car and the way you drive it. Do you follow all these safe driver tips?
1. Keep your car maintained
Bald tires, faulty steering or worn brakes can cause an accident.
Your vehicle may skid on bald tires or you may not be able to stop within expected distances if your brakes are worn.
To avoid these unexpected situations, always have your vehicle maintained on a regular basis.
2. Drive to the conditions
It's not always a bright, sunny and dry day when you drive. "Drive to the conditions" means slow down when it's raining or there are other factors that impair visibility or traction on the road surface.
Rain, snow and fog reduces visibility and water makes road surfaces slippery. Conversely, if it hasn't rained in a long time, there will be all the more oil on the road to contend with. You should also drive slower at night.
3. Keep to the speed limit
Always follow the sign- posted speed limit. It’s in place to help you stay in control of the car and are based on ideal driving conditions. Going any faster is hazardous.
4. Don't drive if tired or under the influence
If you're tired but really need to drive, take a quick nap beforehand. Drive with your window open. Have an energy drink or coffee before hand (but not during!).
Take regular breaks on a long drive – every two hours stop, get out and stretch – get some fresh air.
Driving when you're tired is like driving under the influence of alcohol you're not in complete control of your abilities.
It goes without saying that you should not drive under the influence of alcohol – it affects your vision and response times. Similarly you shouldn't drive after taking some drugs (check the packet).
5. Avoid in-car distractions
Car stereo's, fighting or crying children can be serious distractions. Also don't smoke, eat or drink as this keeps you from keeping both hands on the wheel. And if you drop your cigarette or sandwich it is hard not to try and retrieve it before it rolls around somewhere you don't want it to and you could lose control of the car as soon as you take your eye off the road.
If necessary, stop your car and pull over to a safe place to deal with the kids, change a CD or have a quick bite to eat or drink. And definitely don't use your phone.
6. Signal your intent
It may be obvious to you that you are about to turn but it's not so obvious to the drivers or pedestrians around you.
A good amount of accidents could have been avoided had drivers simply indicated their turns or lane changes.
7. Keep your following distance
“Only a fool breaks the two second rule”
Always stay at least one car length behind the vehicle in front of you. While driving, you should be able to see the back tires of the car in front of you. If you're travelling at a higher speed, maintain a further distance.
Following too closely to any vehicle does not give you enough time to execute an emergency manoeuvre.
What's two seconds on the road?
Pick a feature on the side of the road like a power pole or street market and count the seconds (one-thousand one, one thousand two) and make sure you don't pass that same feature until you've counted the full two seconds out.
If you're the one being tail-gated, don't slam on the brakes to try to teach them a lesson. Pull over and let them pass.
8. Don't give in to road rage
The road can be a stressful place and road rage is a real problem.
You don't know how the other person will respond if you engage them in a war of gestures or words. And while you are telling them what you think you are distracted.
9. Keep scanning the area ahead.
Don't just keep your eyes glued to the number plate of the car in front of you but watch the traffic in front of that car as well.
This increases your chance of seeing a problem while you have time to react to it.
It also decreases your chance of rear-ending the vehicle in front of you should they make a sudden stop.
Check for inattentive drivers ahead of you - drifting in the lane often identifies a tired, drunk or cell phone-preoccupied driver — so you should avoid them.
Pay attention to the flow of traffic so that you can anticipate any changes. Often you can be made aware of an emergency just by watching the flow of the vehicles several yards in front of you.
10 Beware of blind spots.
Yes, adjust your side mirrors and rear-view mirror to provide you with a good view of what's behind you, but don't rely solely on them.
Before changing lanes, turn to look directly into the lanes beside you to avoid anything in your 'blind spot' – areas that can't be seen by your mirrors or is hidden by parts of the vehicle structure such as window pillars.
Also consider the blind spots for other drivers around you, especially trucks – a rule of thumb is if you can't see their side mirrors – they can't see you.
11. Buckle Up
Make sure you buckle up every time you get into the car, as a driver and a passenger. Crashes can happen any time, anywhere. Whether you’re going around the corner or practice driving on the highway, your seat belt should always be on.
The same goes for your passengers and especially for children who should be in restraints appropriate for their size and/or age. Your lap is not the place for a child in a moving car.
12. Know the road rules
A busy intersection in the middle of peak hour traffic is NOT the time to wonder who gives way to way. It's also too late to realise the speed limit is 90 km per hour if you are towing a trailer, after you lose control.
Understand give way rules, and what the various road signs mean so you can react quickly and correctly to a particular situation.
The rules are designed to keep you - and the other drivers around you - safe.