Any time you get behind the wheel of a vehicle, you’re taking on a certain level of risk. And while there’s no way to neutralize all risk, there are some simple things you can do to lower your chances of being involved in a devastating collision.
Car Accident Statistics and Facts
Roads might be safer today than they were 40 or 50 years ago, but they still pose quite a risk when viewed through the lens of annual data and statistics. According to DriverKnowledge.com:
- There are an average of 6 million car accidents in the U.S. each year.
- 90 Americans die every day in car accidents.
- Roughly 3 million people are injured in car accidents each year in the U.S.
- Approximately 2 million drivers experience permanent injuries each year.
Typical causes of car accidents resulting in death and serious injury include distractions, fatigue, alcohol and drug impairment, and speeding.
5 Ways to Lower Your Risk of a Car Accident
Car accidents happen. And while the only way to totally avoid all crash-related risk is to avoid roads, there are proven strategies you can take to lower your chances of being hurt or killed in a collision. Here are a few of the top suggestions:
Take Care of Your Vehicle
The first step is to take care of your vehicle. By performing regular maintenance – particularly preventative maintenance – you can lessen the likelihood of a mechanical issue rendering your vehicle unsafe. Pay particular attention to tires, brakes, and fluids.
Distracted driving is one of the top contributing factors to deadly car accidents. And when road safety experts talk about distractions, they divide factors up into three categories:
- Manual (distracted with your hands)
- Visual (distracted with your eyes)
- Cognitive (distracted by thoughts)
While any form of distraction is enough to cause a collision or force a driver to swerve off the road, some distractions tend to crop up more than others.
“Out of all of these types of distracted driving, texting is considered to be the worst of all distractions,” DriveSafe Online mentions. “In fact, more than a million crashes per year are caused by cell phone use while driving. And, in the United States, 1 out of 4 car accidents are caused by texting while driving. Because of this, more and more states are banning texting and driving.”
By now, nearly all states have some type of texting and driving law in effect. It’s up to you to do your part in following the rules.
Avoid These High-Risk Circumstances
To lower your risk of being involved in a car accident, there are certain situations and actions you’ll want to avoid. Common hotspots for accidents include:
- Intersections. Contrary to popular belief, highways and interstates are not the most dangerous places on the road. It’s actually congested city streets and intersections.
- Nighttime driving. In terms of accident frequency, the hours between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. are the most dangerous hours to be on the road. If you measure by the frequency of deadly accidents, the hours from midnight to 4 a.m. are most dangerous.
- Inclement weather. Rain, ice, and snow increase the chances of vehicular accidents and are known to increase the risk of serious collisions and fatal accidents.
You obviously can’t avoid all intersections, nighttime driving, and inclement weather, but by limiting the amount of driving you do in these situations, you can lower risk. If nothing else, being more aware of your surroundings in these moments will give you a better chance of staying safe.
Watch Your Speed
Speeding is involved in roughly one-third of all motor vehicle accidents (and has been for decades). Risks of speeding include an increased likelihood of losing control, increased stopping distance, greater force in a collision, and reduced effectiveness of occupant protection equipment. By observing the speed limit, you can avoid elevating your risk.
You can’t control the number of vehicles on the road or what they choose to do. You can, however, provide ample space between your vehicle and everyone else on the road. By giving space, you make it easier to brake and/or swerve out of the way (when necessary).
Adding it All Up
Car accidents can be dangerous and deadly. By implementing these tips, you’ll successfully lower your risk and increase your odds of arriving alive. As always, practice common sense and avoid high-risk scenarios.