By Pendergast Law on January 29, 2011
When it comes to preventing auto accidents, remember the Boy Scout motto – BE PREPARED. Or in this case – DRIVE DEFENSIVELY.
Here are some simple defensive driving techniques that will allow you to anticipate potential hazards and be ready to handle them:
In addition to simply obeying traffic laws, you want to do everything you can to avoid accidents. More often than not, this can be as simple as watching out for other drivers who are less responsible, including:
- Taking extra caution at intersections.
- Staying out of other people’s blind spots (especially large vehicles).
- Thinking ahead – Are there children playing in the area? What’s around the bend?
- Being prepared to stop or swerve suddenly to avoid collision.
Communicate Your Intentions
Other drivers can’t know what you are going to do unless you tell them. So signal early, signal throughout your lane change or turn, and cancel your signal when your move is complete.
Watch Your Distance
Over 10% of all accidents are caused by tailgating (following too closely). Remember the Two-Second Rule: When driving under normal road and weather conditions, your car should be at least two seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. Here’s how to check your distance:
- Watch the vehicle ahead pass some fixed point – a mile marker or sign post.
- Count off the seconds it takes you to reach the same spot in the road (“one thousand and one, one thousand and two…”)
- If you reach the mark before two seconds, you are following too closely.
When road or weather conditions are not good, use your best judgment to increase your following distance even more to avoid rear-end collisions.
Adapt to Road Conditions
Death rates for nighttime driving are four times higher than daytime driving. Slow down and leave wider spaces between you and other drivers when you encounter bad weather, glare, narrow/twisting roads and low light conditions.
Night Driving: Remember that, even with your headlights on, it is extremely difficult to see pedestrians, bicyclists and others.
Fog: Use your low-beam headlights and be prepared to stop suddenly. If the fog becomes so thick that you cannot see well enough to keep driving, pull completely off the road and stop. Turn on your emergency flashers.
Rain: Remember that roads are extra slippery at the start of a rain shower because oil, which has risen to the road surface, has not had a chance to wash away. Heavy rains will cause more problems because your tires can begin to hydroplane like water skis. In this case, the key to keeping your tires in contact with the road is to simply slow down.
Snow and Ice: An important skill to learn in snow and ice is the controlled slide. If your vehicle begins to slide, take the following steps to regain control:
- Take your foot off the accelerator pedal.
- If you have anti-lock brakes, apply them firmly. Otherwise, avoid using brakes, pumping them gently only if you are about to hit something.
- Steer the vehicle into the direction of the skid to straighten out the vehicle.
- Then steer in the direction you wish to go.
Please drive defensively and be prepared. And if you or a loved one is seriously injured in an accident, you may be able to file a personal injury claim and get compensation for your injuries. If you think you have a claim contact our Seattle personal injury attorneys for a free consultation. You obtain the best possible legal services at the time of your injury without having to pay money out of your pocket for legal services. No recovery means no attorney fee.