In the United States, accidents—like car collisions and motorcycle wrecks—are the third leading cause of death. Motor vehicle collisions are also a major cause of injuries. Every time you get into a vehicle, there are countless factors that determine whether you get to your destination safely or not.
Unfortunately, many of these factors are out of your control. Since you cannot necessarily prevent an accident, you can do some things to limit injuries and death if it does happen.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 77% of drivers have reported being involved in a car accident at least once in their life. With that level of occurrence, it’s worth exploring how you can keep yourself and your family safe while you’re on the road.
Here are some safe driving tips to keep in mind when operating a motor vehicle that can help prevent car accidents and injury if you are in an accident. These tips will even help you to stay safe on the road overall.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Motor vehicle accidents are extremely dangerous by nature. Wearing a seatbelt while driving or riding in a vehicle is one of the easiest things you can do to prevent injury or death if a collision occurs.
Seat belts reduce the risk of death for drivers and passengers by 45%. They also cut the risk of serious injury by 50%, according to the CDC. That is a compelling reason to always buckle up.
Under Illinois law, all drivers and passengers (in front and back seats) who are 8 years of age and older are required to wear seat belts in a motor vehicle.
The driver of the vehicle is responsible for all occupants to be properly secured in their seats while in operation. If a driver has ever told you, “put on your seatbelt or I could get a ticket,” they were right.
According to the National Safety Council, seat belt usage has gone up in recent years. On average, 90% of people in the United States wear a seatbelt, depending on the state.
The impact seat belts have on preventing accident injuries and fatalities is clear. In 2017 alone, nearly 15,000 lives were saved simply because of seat belt usage.
Quick Take Away: Wearing a seat belt is one of the best ways to prevent injury or death during a car accident.
Adjust Your Vehicle to Your Needs
Every time you drive, adjust your seat, steering wheel, mirrors, music, and climate before putting the car in motion. Making these adjustments before you begin your trip can go far in preventing an accident in the first place or minimizing the risk of a serious injury if you are in an accident.
Adjusting music and A/C or heat before you drive will limit distractions while on the road. Likewise, adjusting your mirror can prevent an accident by ensuring that you have the best view possible of the car around you.
Your seat and steering wheel positions can help save your life or prevent serious injuries. Adjusting your car’s seat so that it’s in the proper position will help to prevent an injury or death by making sure that the car’s safety features function correctly in the event of an accident. The same goes for a steering wheel.
When you are sitting too far back in a seat, not sitting upright, or sitting too far forward, the airbags and seatbelt cannot work properly. Plus, an upright position is how they test literally every safety feature. So, you can’t be certain that seat and steering wheel positions that aren’t tested are safe.
If the steering wheel is the appropriate distance from you, airbags will properly inflate. That will make all the difference between suffering a minor or a catastrophic injury.
Quick Take Away: Adjust everything before you move to limit distractions while driving. And sit in your car the way it was meant to be sat in.
Perform Regular Maintenance on Your Vehicle
Routine maintenance of your vehicle not only prevents costly repairs later. It can also help to prevent accidents that could result in injuries or death.
Take your car to your local mechanic or dealership and make sure they perform a safety inspection on your vehicle at least every year. When you get your oil changed is a good time to ask for a simple visual inspection. Every two years, you should get a comprehensive safety inspection done.
For example, a motorist takes a leased vehicle in for its 2-year required maintenance. A few days later she notices the tires are wobbling and assumes they balanced them wrong. But the tires were actually falling apart because of a manufacturer’s defect. The dealership then fails to notice the issue while the car was in their shop for 2 days specifically for a safety check.
If that driver or another person is seriously injured, you can bet that the manufacturer and the dealership could be held responsible.
So routine maintenance may not be foolproof. But it’s an important and effective way to prevent any serious incidents or injuries from occurring.
Quick Take Away: Get routine maintenance and safety checks done on your vehicle.
Use Your Car’s Safety Features
Safety features in vehicles have come a long way since their inception. From adaptive headlights to side airbags to lane sensors, cars just keep getting safer.
In order for these features to do their job, you need to be using them. This may sound obvious. However, many features can either be turned off or else unnoticed by drivers who don’t know about them or how to work them.
For example, some cars have small lights that flash when you put on your turn signal when the destination lane is occupied. Knowing about the feature and its purpose is the only way it can keep you and your family safe. Likewise, some airbags can be turned off for one reason or another. If you do turn off an airbag, make sure it is turned back on as soon as possible.
The same is true for every safety feature your car has. If you aren’t using it, it’s not a safety feature.
Quick Take Away: Use all safety features to their fullest extent.
Drive Sober, Don’t Drink and Drive
Driving under the influence of any mind-altering substances is both highly illegal and extremely irresponsible. The NHTSA states that drunk driving claims the lives of 10,000 people every year. That means that nearly 30 people die every day because of drunk driving.
Alcohol can cause impaired thinking, reasoning, and muscle coordination. These are sensory abilities that are necessary for safely operating a vehicle.
As a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) rises, it becomes far more likely for them to cause an auto accident.
In the simplest terms, it is not worth it to get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Not only is it extremely dangerous for drivers and their passengers, but it’s also risky for other drivers and pedestrians using the roads.
Quick Take Away: If you have to wonder if you’re intoxicated, you are too drunk to drive.
Roughly 10,000 people die each year due to speeding. The risk of a car crash occurring increases as a driver’s speed goes up.
Driving at posted speed limits is important because it keeps you, your passengers, and others on the road safe. Accidents that happen when someone is speeding are more likely to cause injuries and deaths.
Quick Take Away: Drive the speed limit. Getting to your destination seconds faster isn’t worth risking your or someone else’s life.
We all have so many distractions in our lives. And those distractions are bleeding over into our driving. Whether it’s changing stations on Spotify, looking for a restaurant nearby on maps, or sending a text, all of these actions can lead to a serious auto accident.
Illinois law prohibits the use of any handheld cellular device while operating a motor vehicle. The best thing a driver can do to avoid accidents is to simply pay attention to the roadway and not drive while distracted.
Quick Take Away: If the vehicle is in motion, put the phone down.
Ensure Children Are Safe and Secured
The Illinois Child Passenger Protection Act states that any child under the age of 8 must be properly secured in an appropriate child restraint system that will properly secure them in the event of an accident.
The use of booster seats in addition to lap/shoulder style safety belts is required for children under 40 pounds. For any child over 40 pounds, a booster seat is no longer required. But some studies have shown the booster seats can help prevent injuries and death well beyond toddler years.
Taking these steps is critical to ensuring the safety of a child while driving. Motor vehicle crashes are one of the leading causes of death for children. So anything we can do to reduce that figure is worth it.
Quick Take Away: Restrain your child properly every time.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you were injured in a car accident, don’t hesitate to contact the lawyers at Abels & Annes. We are ready to help you maneuver the legal process of personal injury claims. We offer compassionate, knowledgeable, and effective legal representation to people in Chicago and all across Illinois. For a free consultation, contact us today at (855) 529-2442 or fill out our online contact form.