Every year, more than six million auto accidents happen throughout the United States. Sadly, a good number of these accidents are caused by driver error, which means they're 100% preventable. In this post, our Columbia personal injury lawyers discuss five bad driving habits that commonly contribute to Missouri car accidents.
1. Following too closely
Also known as "tailgating," this practice is a common contributing factor in rear-end collisions. When drivers follow too closely, they often don't have enough time and space to stop if traffic slows in front of them. To avoid tailgating, use the three-second rule to ensure you've left enough space between your vehicle and the one traveling in front of you. Choose a non-moving object on the road ahead of you, like an overpass or sign. Start counting to three slowly when the vehicle in front passes the object: if you reach the object before you get to three, you're following too closely.
2. Driving while distracted
A distracted driver is engaged in any non-driving related activity that takes his or her attention away from the road. Cell phones and other hand-held electronic devices are notoriously dangerous distractions, but there are several other activities that divide a driver's focus, making it more difficult to assess and react to roadway situations. These activities include eating and drinking, putting on makeup, fiddling with the radio or GPS system, talking to passengers, reading, and watching videos. Remember, to ensure safe travel, you need to devote all your attention to the task of driving.
3. Neglecting to use your turn signal
According to a study conducted by the Society of Automotive Engineers, an estimated 25% of drivers fail to use their turn signals when making turns, and 48% don't use their signals when changing lanes. Furthermore, the study found that over 2 million accidents happen annually as a direct result of this issue. "The turn signal can no longer be considered 'optional' and all drivers have an ongoing duty to use it, just as they have a duty to stop at a stop sign or red light," said Richard Ponziana, author of the study and president of RLP Engineering.
4. Changing lanes improperly
Many accidents happen when drivers attempt to move from one lane to another without checking their blind spots or signaling. Improper lane changes can be especially dangerous when vehicles attempt to move into lanes where there's fast-moving traffic, like when merging onto a highway. Be sure to signal your intentions and use your mirrors when changing lanes.
5. Failing to make adjustments for weather or traffic conditions
When traffic has slowed due to congested traffic, road construction or inclement weather, it's imperative that you adjust your driving to suit these conditions. Slow down, allow extra space between vehicles, and stay focused on what's happening around you.