Tips for Avoiding a Costly Car Accident

A car accident can impact various aspects of your life. You may sustain painful injuries and emotional trauma, requiring medical treatment and counseling. On top of medical bills, your lost wages and the cost of repairing or replacing damaged property can worsen your financial situation. 

It's best to take steps to avoid the physical, psychological, and financial consequences of a collision. That way, you can protect yourself and avoid the stressful process of filing a car accident claim.

Continue reading to learn some tips for avoiding a costly crash.

Avoid Distractions and Stay Alert Behind the Wheel

Distracted driving is one of the most common factors contributing to motor vehicle accidents. Each year, over 3,000 people die, and 400,000 are injured due to distracted driving crashes. Sadly, about 20% of the people killed in these accidents are outside the vehicle, such as pedestrians and bicyclists.

Distractions include eating, texting, rubbernecking, and any other behavior that takes your attention away from driving. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), distracted driving accidents made up nearly 30% of the estimated economic costs of all crashes in 2019. That year, collisions in the U.S. cost around $340 billion, with $98 billion resulting from distracted drivers.

It's easy to avoid distracted driving crashes. Understand that multitasking is not safe to do behind the wheel. If you need to eat, make a phone call, or adjust your mirrors, it's best to do so before starting your journey or by pulling over. Additionally, always keep your eyes on other vehicles and the road. 

Follow All Traffic Laws

It may seem obvious that you must follow all state and local traffic regulations. However, with the number of crashes that occur due to violations of various laws, it's an important reminder. 

For example: 

  • Do not speed or travel too fast for conditions. That means slowing down in inclement weather and when traffic is heavy. Speeding accidents kill over 12,000 people each year. These crashes are often severe (and costly) due to the force of impact.
  • Do not tailgate. All states have a law on the books regarding following other vehicles too closely. You must maintain a safe distance to avoid rear-end collisions.
  • Follow all traffic signs and signals. When drivers speed up to “beat” a red light, they significantly increase the risk of an intersection crash. 

Always try to avoid reckless driving, no matter how frustrated or rushed you are. 

Never Drive While Impaired or Tired

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a big problem that can be easily avoided. The NHTSA reports that about 37 people die daily in drunk driving accidents. Over 30% of all traffic crash fatalities involve an impaired driver. 

To prevent these crashes, plan ahead if you will be drinking alcohol. Appoint someone as a designated driver or schedule a rideshare. If someone is impaired and about to drive, take their keys and arrange for them to get home safely. 

Additionally, never drive while tired. According to the National Safety Council, drowsy driving is similar to driving drunk. You are three times more likely to get into an accident if you drive while fatigued.

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

Not only is it the law, but wearing a seat belt also saves thousands of lives each year. In 2021, 50% of the people killed in auto accidents weren't wearing their safety belts. 

Buckling up has many advantages, including: 

  • It protects you from being ejected from the vehicle in a collision, which almost always ends in death.
  • A seat belt works in tandem with airbags to protect passengers. If you fail to buckle up, the airbag's force can severely injure you.
  • It reduces your risk of fatal injury by 45% in a car and by 60% in a truck or SUV.

In the event of a crash, a seat belt works by keeping the passenger from being tossed around the vehicle and colliding with the interior. They also spread forces across stronger parts of the body, such as the shoulder, pelvis, and ribs.

Additionally, unbelted passengers create a risk to others in the vehicle. 

Maintain Your Vehicle

Some states have vehicle inspection requirements to ensure road safety. However, even if your state doesn't have such requirements, you should always keep your vehicle in good working order. 

For example, you should:

  • Regularly check your tires. Make sure they have enough air, routinely rotate your tires, and check the tread for wear. This will prevent blowouts that can cause dangerous traffic accidents.
  • Ensure that your headlights and tail lights are working, and keep them clean.
  • Replace your windshield wipers when necessary to increase your visibility in the rain and fog.
  • Always take your vehicle to a trusted mechanic or dealer for oil changes and maintenance services.

Also, pay attention to any safety recalls issued for auto parts. If you receive a notice, follow the manufacturer's guidance and take your vehicle to a reliable dealership or mechanic. If you notice an issue with your car, file a complaint with the NHTSA. Others may be experiencing the same thing, leading to a recall.

Contact a Local Car Accident Lawyer If You've Been Involved in a Crash

If you've been injured in a collision, seek guidance from an experienced car accident attorney. They'll help you pursue fair compensation for your damages.