8 Tips to Drive Safe in California
Over 2 million people are injured in a car accident each year in the United States. Auto accidents continue to be a leading cause of death with more than 30,000 deaths occurring annually. Motorists have a responsibility to reduce this number by driving in a safe and reasonable manner. Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re behind the wheel in California.
1. Avoid Distracted Driving
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accounted for 3,166 deaths in just 2017 alone. To stay safe on the road, you should avoid common distractions like:
- Making phone calls
- Eating and drinking
- Applying makeup
- Talking excessively to passengers
- Adjusting the radio or entertainment system
Bottom line: Anything that diverts your attention away from driving should be avoided entirely. Due to an increase in distracted driving incidents, California has enacted a law to ban motorists from handheld cell phone usage while driving—this includes texting, too. The National Safety Council reports that approximately 1 in 4 accidents are caused by drivers who were using their cell phones at the time of the crash. The best thing you can do is put your phone away and keep your eyes on the road. It is lawful, however, to use your devices hands-free.
2. Stay Calm
Aggressive driving, also known as road rage, often leads to accidents. Drivers who are experiencing road rage can be unpredictable and make a number of unlawful traffic violations such as:
- Passing in prohibited zones
- Failing to yield
- Speeding and/or racing
- Failing to signal lane changes
- Driving in prohibited areas
- Turning improperly
- Failing to obey traffic signs
- Making last-minute driving decisions
There are many things that can happen when you are out on the road. The erratic behavior of other drivers can be upsetting, but it’s important to keep your cool behind the wheel and follow all traffic laws.
3. Fasten Your Seatbelt
As of 2018, at least 10% of Americans don’t wear a seatbelt. This decision can prove deadly. In fact, 47% of the people killed in auto accidents in 2017 weren’t using a seatbelt. In the event of a crash, unrestrained occupants may be thrown from the vehicle, which can lead to serious consequences like broken bones, brain and/or spinal trauma, internal bleeding, organ damage, and even death. To minimize the risk of injury, seatbelts should be worn properly crossed over the lap and diagonally over the chest. Children are especially prone to tucking the chest strap behind them, so parents should be aware and teach their children about seatbelt safety once they have grown too big for their booster seats.
4. Follow Traffic Laws
Abiding by traffic laws will reduce your chances of getting into a car accident. To drive safe, you should:
- Avoid going over the speed limit
- Signal before changing lanes
- Obey traffic signals
- Make full stops at stop signs
- Treat yellow lights like red lights
- Be aware of pedestrians
- Yield to those with the right-of-way
Traffic laws were put in place to protect drivers, passengers, and pedestrians, so they should be respected at all times.
5. Avoid Rubbernecking
Rubbernecking is the practice of slowing down your vehicle to look at a nearby accident or other point of interest. This can lead to excessive traffic delays that may result in further accidents as attention is directed away from driving. If traffic comes to a standstill, the risk of a motor vehicle crash happening increases as drivers may make sudden movements to navigate to a faster-moving lane. Keep your eyes focused on the road to ensure that you remain aware of the actions of the other drivers around you.
6. Be Aware of School Zones
California school zones have a speeding limit as low as 15 mph. If you are cited for exceeding the limit, you can expect to be fined more heavily than you would if you were speeding outside a school zone. The posted speed limit should be followed strictly to keep children safe. You should also exercise safe driving around school buses. When a bus flashes red lights, motorists from both directions of an undivided street must stop to allow children to cross. You should only begin driving again after the lights have stopped flashing. Penalties for failing to stop for a school bus are hefty: You could pay up to a $1,000 fine and have your driver’s license suspended for a lengthy period of time.
7. Stop on Red
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), 890 people were killed in 2017 due to drivers who were running red lights. Motorists who enter an intersection after the light has changed to red are in direct violation. A responsible driver will begin to slow down when the light signals yellow and prepare to come to a full stop before it turns red. Speeding up when the light turns yellow is an unsafe practice and puts you, your passengers, and other motorists at risk of getting into a car accident.
8. Don’t Drive Impaired
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 10,000 deathsthat resulted from motor vehicle crashes caused by an alcohol-impaired driver. Alcohol, certain prescription medications, and illegal drugs can impact your judgement on the road. In the event of an auto accident, you could be charged with a DUI and also face serious penalties like excessive fines, the revocation of your license, and even jail time. Dont put yourself and others at risk by driving when your impaired.
Call a Bakersfield Car Accident Lawyer
Sometimes, even the safest drivers can be involved in an auto accident due to no fault of their own. If you are the victim of a car accident in California, call The Law Office of Kyle W. Jones today for a free consultation. Our lawyers work hard to protect your rights and fight for the compensation your entitled to.