Most of us who have been driving for a significant amount of time trust that our experience behind the wheel has made us better drivers. We understand the rules of the road and are comfortable driving in various conditions, whether at night, in inclement weather, or in heavy traffic.
Still, it’s vital to keep the fundamentals in mind at all times when you’re behind the wheel, no matter how long you’ve been driving. After all, avoiding an accident is about being aware of your own actions as much as watching what others are doing.
Below are five road safety tips that even experienced drivers often forget but could save you from being involved in a serious injury crash.
1. Minimize any potential distractions
Most of us are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Unfortunately, eight people are killed every day by distracted drivers according to the CDC. A North Carolina Department of Transportation study found that 19.2 percent of all crashes statewide involved at least one driver who was distracted.
When a driver fails to pay full attention to their vehicle and the road, they are putting themselves and others at risk.
A distracted driver might take their hands off the wheel if they’re sending a text message, eating or drinking, adjusting the radio, or attending to other tasks. When a motorist doesn’t have both hands on the wheel, they can’t react as quickly or effectively to changing road conditions, other vehicles’ movements, or emergencies.
Second, distractions can take a driver’s eyes off the road, even if their hands are still on the wheel. Drivers who aren’t looking at the road may fail to see incoming hazards, or they won’t have as much time to react. In either case, it’s much more likely the driver will be involved in an accident.
Finally, distractions can take a driver’s concentration away from the task of safely handling their vehicle. At 55 mph, a car can travel the length of a football field in the time it takes a driver to read a text message. That’s more than enough time and space for an accident to occur if the driver isn’t paying attention.
2. Wear a seatbelt
Seatbelts save lives. It’s as simple as that. Unfortunately, many drivers and passengers don’t wear their seatbelts when they should, leading to more severe injuries if they’re ever involved in an accident. It’s no wonder that data from the North Carolina Department of Transportation show 39 percent of all driver fatalities in one recent year were among drivers who were not wearing their seatbelt.
Seatbelts help keep occupants from being thrown about the cabin or ejected from the vehicle upon impact. They dramatically reduce the risk of serious injury or death in the event of a crash. In fact, among front-seat drivers and passengers, seatbelts reduced the risk of severe injury by 50%. They reduced the risk of death by 45%, according to the CDC.
While some experienced drivers may feel that they don’t need to wear a seatbelt, especially on shorter commutes, while driving in their neighborhood, or roads they are very familiar with, it is important to buckle up every time you get behind the wheel.
3. Avoid substances that might impair your response time
Most of us are aware of how dangerous drinking and driving is, but alcohol is not the only substance that can impact your reflexes and judgment while driving. Other illegal drugs like marijuana and other narcotics can have just as much of an impact on your ability to drive, and sometimes even more so.
What many experienced drivers forget is that even legal substances can impair your driving ability. This includes things like over-the-counter or prescription medications which often cause drowsiness in patients. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about the possible dangers of taking prescription medications before driving.
4. Only drive when you are alert and well-rested
Driving while fatigued can be just as dangerous as driving while intoxicated. One study from the National Sleep Foundation found that going 20 hours without sleep harms a driver’s ability to drive to roughly the same degree as a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of 0.08 percent, which is the legal limit in most states.
Driving while fatigued leads to dulled reflexes, increased response times, and impaired judgment, all of which make an accident more likely.
5. Resist the need for speed
If seatbelts save lives, speed kills. The faster a vehicle is traveling, the less time and space the driver has to react in an emergency, making a catastrophic accident much more likely.
Cars traveling at high speeds also collide with much greater force than those at lower speeds. The greater the force of impact, the more likely it is that occupants will suffer severe or possibly fatal injury. Give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination without speeding. If you’re late, remember that speeding and causing an accident is a much worse outcome.
Contact a Car Accident Lawyer Today
If you’ve been hurt in a car accident in North Carolina, your first call should be to Teddy, Meekins & Talbert, P.L.L.C. Our car accident attorneys have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of people just like you. Our efforts have earned us widespread praise from our clients and peers alike, including being named one of U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Lawyers” for 2020.
Our lawyers will be ready to take immediate action if you’ve been hurt in a crash in North Carolina. We can meet with you at your home, in the hospital, or schedule a virtual consultation to discuss the accident and explain your legal options. We can immediately launch a thorough investigation into the crash to identify all liable parties and potential sources of compensation.
Have further questions about our legal services? Call our office today or visit our contact page to get a free initial consultation.
A native North Carolinian and a fourth-generation lawyer, Ralph W. Meekins literally had the desire to help those who are not able to help themselves as well as to be a practical life adviser to people in his blood.