Car accidents happen in a matter of seconds. Most of us don't get behind the wheel expecting to be involved in a collision, but millions of car crashes happen in the U.S. every year. In this post, our Joplin personal injury lawyers share five simple ways Missouri drivers can reduce their risk of having an accident.
1. Maintain your vehicle. In addition to prolonging the life of your vehicle, proper maintenance can also help reduce your chances of having an accident. Be sure to have your car serviced regularly: certain maintenance issues (i.e. improper tire pressure, problems with brakes, etc) can create ideal conditions for a crash.
2. Minimize potential distractions. Handheld electronic devices are a notorious source of distraction for today's drivers, but other activities can be equally deadly when you're behind the wheel. Refrain from eating and drinking; talking to passengers; playing with the radio; grooming; or any other activity that takes your attention away from the task of driving.
3. Slow down. When a vehicle's speed increases from 40 miles per hour to 60 miles per hour, the energy released by a collision more than doubles. In other words, the faster you're traveling, the greater the force of the impact will be, should a collision occur. Know the speed limit, and avoid driving too fast for conditions. For example, it's just good sense to slow down in heavy traffic, in inclement weather, and in construction zones.
4. Stay alert. We can't always count on other drivers to play by the rules. All too often, negligent careless drivers cause collisions that involve people who weren't doing anything wrong - except being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your best bet is to expect the unexpected: drivers who stop suddenly, turn without signaling, follow too closely, and so on. Be aware of what's happening around you so you can react quickly, if needed. (And remember that impaired drivers can be incredibly dangerous. Don't drive if you're drowsy or under the influence.)
5. Buckle up. The simplest - and most effective - way to reduce your risk of injury is to wear your seatbelt. Between 2004 and 2008, seat belts saved over 75,000 lives - and more than half of fatal crash victims weren't buckled up. If you're carrying young passengers, it's especially important to make sure they're properly restrained in appropriate child safety seats.
As the old saying goes, the best offense is a good defense. By taking a few simple precautions, we can all work together to make Missouri roadways safer and help ensure that we all arrive safely at our destinations.