8 Defensive Driving Tips in California
From expensive repair bills to serious injuries, an auto accident can have wide-ranging consequences. This is why it’s best to be a defensive driver on the road. Defensive driving involves thinking ahead to protect yourself against potential accidents in various conditions. You can reduce your risk of a collision by following these defensive driving tips.
1. Be Prepared for Anything
The number one rule of defensive driving is to be ready to take any preventative action you need to prevent an accident. This means sitting straight in your seat, being aware of your surroundings, and keeping both hands on the wheel. All of these things will allow you to adjust to sudden changes in road conditions more quickly and, in turn, be more likely to avoid a collision.
2. Monitor Your Surroundings
You should look for hazards beyond the car in front of you. Look further ahead for any changing conditions, such as a lane closure, and be sure to check your mirrors periodically so that you can monitor what’s going on behind you as well. You should be able to spot risks while driving and predict what could happen in various situations. You need to have a plan for every hazard—whether it’s changing lanes, pulling off to the shoulder, or calling highway patrol, you need to be able to act quickly to avoid a possible accident.
3. Avoid Distractions
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), distracted driving accounted for the deaths of 3,166 people on U.S. roads in the year 2017 alone. Taking your eyes off the road for even 5 seconds is too long. A defensive driver will avoid distractions like:
- Texting or talking on a cell phone
- Eating and drinking
- Putting on makeup
- Staring at roadside accidents
It’s also important to prevent driver fatigue. If you feel yourself getting tired, pull over and rest. Remaining alert will allow you to better predict risks so that you can avoid unnecessary accidents.
4. Maintain a Safe Following Distance
Driving conditions change all the time, so you need to allow for these changes by keeping at least three seconds of driving time between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will help protect you if another driver brakes suddenly or makes an impulsive lane change. There are also certain situations where you should double your following distance, including:
- Poor weather conditions
- Backed-up traffic
- Road construction
- When following a large vehicle
- When being tailgated by another vehicle
5. Avoid Driving in Blind Spots
Unfortunately, you can’t trust that other drivers will be as aware as you. This is why it’s crucial to stay out of the blind spots of other vehicles—especially in the case of large trucks that have much larger blind spots than the typical passenger vehicle. Generally, a truck’s blind spots, also known as “No Zones,” will be immediately in front, behind, and along each side of the vehicle, so you should avoid driving in these areas.
6. Change Lanes Safely
Making last-minute maneuvers increases your risk of getting into a collision. If you need to move lanes, be sure to use your turn signals so that other drivers can anticipate the change. When moving in between two vehicles, you should exercise extreme caution to make sure there’s plenty of room for you. Otherwise, the other drivers will be forced to adjust, which could result in an accident.
7. Avoid Braking Suddenly
Last-minute braking is a top contributor to rear-end crashes, especially in a traffic jam. You should keep an eye on the brake lights of the vehicles in front of you. If you notice that several of them have started braking, begin slowing down and tap on your brakes to warn the other drivers behind you. These actions will help prevent those abrupt stops that can lead to a multi-car accident.
8. Follow All Traffic Laws
Traffic laws are put in place to protect drivers and pedestrians alike, so you should follow them closely to minimize risk. In particular, it’s important to stop at all stop signs and red lights. In 2017 alone, 890 people were killed as a result of someone running a red light. Many drivers will also attempt to drive through a yellow light at an intersection, so when your light turns green, you should ensure the path is clear before you drive ahead.
Involved in an Accident?
Some accidents are just unavoidable. When it happens, it’s important to remain calm and assess the situation. If anyone is severely injured, call for emergency medical assistance. You should also:
- File a Police Report:This will allow you and the other parties involved to document the incident before you can forget any details.
- Seek Medical Treatment: If you didn’t need immediate medical help at the time of the accident, you should still visit a doctor to rule out any related health issues. Some injuries, like whiplash and internal bleeding, don’t present symptoms right away, and it can hurt your case to delay getting the medical treatment you need. It’s best to get a comprehensive medical evaluation as soon as possible.
- Gather Evidence: Any evidence from the accident will be helpful if you need to pursue a claim against the other driver. You should take photos of any injuries or accident damage before you leave the scene. Make sure to obtain copies of the police report as well as any medical tests or procedures you needed as a result of your injuries.
- Contact a Lawyer: It’s in your best interest to work with an experienced lawyer after an auto accident because insurance companies will try to pay you as little as possible. A lawyer will know what steps to take to maximize your compensation.
The Law Office of Kyle W. Jones serves auto accident victims in Bakersfield and the surrounding area. If you’ve been hurt due to another party’s negligence, we want to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation.