In Arizona, the vast majority of car accidents are preventable. One driver or multiple drivers end up engaging in some unsafe or irresponsible practice, like neglecting an important traffic sign or failing to react to their surroundings in a time, and an accident occurs.
There are exceptions, of course. In some cases, a defective part or manufacturing error can be responsible for a crash. If that’s the case, the people involved in the accident may be able to take legal action against the manufacturer(s). These types of accidents are, on the part of the consumer, unavoidable.
Still, a handful of habits are all it takes to help you avoid most potential accidents you may otherwise face.
Important Habits to Drive Safer
Following these habits can drastically reduce your risk of being involved in a collision:
1. Follow all posted signs. This should be an obvious suggestion, but many people end up ignoring signs because they didn’t see them or because they believed their own judgment to be superior. For example, they may ignore a “road closed” sign because it looks like the road is in decent shape, or they may miss an important “yield” sign heading into a highway. Keep your eyes peeled for signage at all times.
2. Reduce your speed. Your speed has a direct impact on how much time it takes for you to slow or stop your vehicle; the faster you’re going, the less time you’ll have to react to new circumstances ahead of you. On top of that, faster collisions tend to be more damaging. If you reduce your normal traveling speed, even by just a few miles per hour, you can make a positive difference here.
3. Increase your following distance. Similarly, you can avoid the risk and severity of a potential accident by increasing your following distance. If the car in front of you comes to a sudden stop, greater following distance between you will give you a much better chance of coming to a stop before hitting it. It also gives you a better perspective on your surroundings.
4. Keep your eyes on the horizon. Speaking of surroundings, try to keep your eyes focused on the horizon. Opening your gaze allows you to see hundreds of yards in front of you, while simultaneously being able to see immediately in front of you (and to your sides). That way, you can react faster to upcoming challenges.
5. Put the phone away. Distracted driving remains one of the biggest threats on the road; if you take your eyes off the road even for a few seconds, it could directly or indirectly cause a collision. If you’re driving, make sure your phone is turned off or in a glove box. Also be aware that smartphones aren’t the only distraction; multitasking while driving or focusing on passengers can leave you similarly distracted.
6. Put distance between yourself and risky drivers. Occasionally, you’ll encounter a driver who fails to obey the law or exhibits signs of road rage. If you see one of these, or if they’re driving close to you, it’s a good idea to slow down and/or pull off to the side of the road to let them pass. The more distance you have between you, the better.
7. Never risk driving impaired. Drinking and driving dramatically increases your risk of an accident, but many people overestimate how “good” they are at driving drunk. After a few drinks, they may claim to feel fine, and attempt their normal drive home. Do not do this. Everyone has a different tolerance for alcohol, but it’s best to play it safe and avoid driving if you’ve had more than one drink.
8. Acknowledge your fatigue. There are lots of advertisements warning you about the dangers of drinking and driving, but what about driving while tired? Driving fatigued can be equally dangerous, since you’re likely to miss important signs and deal with a slower reaction time. If you’re excessively fatigued, it’s better to avoid driving altogether and get some sleep.
9. Avoid inclement weather (or prepare for it). Bad weather can also sharply increase the rate of accidents. In colder states, snow and ice can be a problem. In Arizona, fog, heavy rain, and other bad conditions can make driving more difficult. If you can avoid driving in these dangerous conditions, avoid it. If not, make sure your vehicle is adequately prepared, and mentally prepare yourself for more defensive driving tactics.
10. Maintain and inspect your vehicle regularly. A problem with your vehicle could eventually lead to an accident—especially if your brakes, tires, or other vital components are damaged. Regularly inspect your vehicle, and maintain it properly; otherwise, you could be held liable for the collision your damaged vehicle causes.
Improving Your Skills
The more time and effort you put into driving safer, the safer you’re going to become as a driver. It takes years, if not decades, to become a competent, experienced driver, but everyone on the road (including you) will be better for it.