Unfortunately, car accidents are very common, and among the leading cause of death in young people. Majority of these crashes are caused by human error, and while some are minor, thousands of lives are taken every year. Driving safely and following all traffic laws helps to decrease your chances of being involved in an accident, but just because you are careful does not mean that you can assure that all other drivers will do the same.
Learn the actions you can take to help prevent being involved in common accidents.
- Distracted Driving
Over the last few decades, distracted driving has been becoming a bigger threat. The biggest culprit – phones. Put your phone away and out of reach while on the road. Many cells have a “do not disturb” setting that automatically turn on when on the road to silence notifications. Furthermore, playlists should be used to avoid the need to open your phone and switch songs. In general, anything that takes your eyes and attention from the road should be avoided.
Posted speed limits are meant for ideal conditions and are the absolute maximum. Speed limits are calculated based on the road design, average traffic, and road condition and should not be exceeded. Speeding reduces your control as a driver and does not give you the adequate amount of time to slow or stop to avoid an accident. Speeding is a dangerous habit that is common to many but must be broken to increase the safety of yourself, and others on the road.
- Reckless Driving
Reckless driving can be distracted driving, speeding, changing lanes without checking mirrors or blind spots, or overall aggressive driving. It is important to take your time and remain calm when driving to accurately follow all rules of the road. Reckless driving is selfishly being careless about the safety of others. Before hitting the road, think about the potential impact of reckless driving and how it may affect others. Impatient, aggressive, thoughtless driving can easily be avoided.
- Drunk Driving
Drunk driving is all too common and very dangerous as your judgment, reaction time, and awareness are reduced. Drunk driving is a choice and should never be a last resort. The legal blood-alcohol level to drive is under 0.08. The number of drinks it takes to reach that level depends on gender, weight, tolerance, diet, and so much more. This means that even with a couple drinks, you still may be driving illegally. That is why the best option is to never drive with alcohol in your system.
You cannot always avoid driving in slippery, dangerous road conditions, especially in Canada. However, planning around rain warnings, snowfall warnings, or extreme wind can help to decrease your chances of getting caught on the road in dangerous weather. If visibility is low, do not be afraid to pull over and wait out the storm. Take things extremely slow and keep your distance from other cars in case conditions prevent you from stopping.
- Red Light Running
Intersection accidents are extremely common, and lead to life-threatening accidents. Red light running accidents occur when the driver was zoned out, distracted, or trying to get through the yellow light and not making it in time. Either way, driving through an intersection when it is not your turn can have serious consequences. Always stop for a yellow light and respect the red light – even if you don’t think anyone else is around. Never drive distracted and be cautious and alert when approaching an intersection.
- Not Following Signage
Signage indicates yielding, warnings, irregularities, one-way streets, and much more. Not paying attention to signage may put you into a dangerous situation. Scanning is one of the most important things to do when driving. It allows you to see what is going on in front of you, behind you, and on the sidewalks and curbs. It also allows you to see signage and gives you the proper knowledge and time to act accordingly. Signage is the universal language of all road users and should never be ignored or overlooked.
- Animal Crossing
Large animals are a huge threat when driving and should be taken seriously. Beware that animal crossing signs are purposely placed where there is common activity of animals such as deer and moose. Take extra precaution around those areas and keep your bright headlights on as much as possible to properly see the shoulders of the road. If you have passengers, ask them to keep an eye on the side of the road for animals as well to help ensure you will have enough time to slow or stop if an animal crosses your path.
- Driving Under the Influence
Driving under the influence does not only mean drunk driving. Drugs like marijuana, prescription pills, or any illegal substances can also cause terrible accidents. Drugs should be treated like alcohol as they both affect your driving and put others in danger. If you’re planning on doing drugs, always have a sober designated driver or make other arrangements. You should never drive impaired. If you suspect someone is on the road high, do not hesitate to report the driver as they are a danger to themselves and others.
There is never an excuse for driving too closely to a vehicle. No matter the situation, always keep a safe distance away from the car in front of you. You never know when the car in front of you will have to slam on their brakes, so keep around 2-3 cars length of space on the highway and 1 car length away in the city. This will give you adequate time and space to avoid an accident if need be.
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