Most drivers don't get behind the wheel expecting to be involved in a crash. And yet, as our personal injury lawyers know, thousands of car accidents happen every single day in the U.S. In this post, our attorneys share some defensive driving tips to help reduce your accident risks.
Defensive Driving: Ten Tips for Missouri Motorists
1. Make defensive driving your top priority. The most basic step you can take toward becoming a defensive driver is to keep all your attention on the road in front of you. Stay aware of what other vehicles are doing, and remember to be prepared for the unexpected.
2. Put your cell phone away. As most people know, distracted driving has become a problem of epidemic proportions. Federal data indicates that drivers who use hand-held electronic devices are four times more likely to be involved in collisions resulting in injury. If you're talking or texting while you drive, you're automatically less able to identify potential issues and react to them safely.
3. Practice "high eyes" driving. When driving, it's easy to limit your attention to the vehicle traveling in front of you. However, doing so can prove problematic - especially if that vehicle's driver isn't paying attention. By keeping your eyes high, you can monitor the traffic ahead, which gives you extra time to decide how to react to an upcoming obstacle.
4. Be cautious when you change lanes. Lots of auto accidents happen as drivers move from one lane to another - one driver might cut another driver off; two drivers might try to merge into the same lane at the same time; etc. If you pick a lane and stay with it, you're automatically doing away with several factors that often contribute to crashes.
5. Watch for "fast lane changers" and "blind lane changers." Be on the lookout for drivers who continually dart in and out of different lanes, as well as those who change lanes without looking.
6. Avoid making eye contact with dangerous drivers. Research has shown that many road rage incidents begin when one driver makes eye contact with another. If you find yourself traveling near someone who is driving dangerously, don't engage or challenge that driver: swallow your pride, and make sure you - and your passengers - are out of harm's way.
7. Always look both ways. It sounds elementary, but all too often, many drivers neglect to look both ways before they pass through an intersection. Even if you have the right of way, even if the light is green, be sure to double-check that the roadway is clear. Many T-bone and side-impact crashes happen when drivers run red lights or fail to yield.
8. Don't follow too closely. Following too closely is a leading contributing factor in rear-end collisions, which can be especially brutal at highway speeds. Allow plenty of distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you.
9. Be patient. Give yourself time to arrive safely at your destination. If you encounter congested traffic, avoid impatient, risky maneuvers. Remember, arriving late is better than being involved in a crash.
10. Buckle up. Wearing a seat belt is the easiest, most reliable way to reduce your risk of car accident injuries.