Accidents, are, unfortunately, a part of driving. From small fender-benders to serious, high-speed collisions, accidents happen all over the world on a daily basis. Since they can cause serious damage to not only your vehicle but also you, it’s imperative to take as many precautions as necessary to avoid being in an accident.
There’s no way to entirely avoid the risk of being in a car crash (short of never getting in a car), but there are many things that can be done to help minimize the risk. Simply by applying a few collision-avoiding strategies, you can greatly lower the chance of having a serious injury while driving your car.
Part 1 of 2: Take pre-emptive measurements before you drive
Step 1: Regularly check the air in your tires. Before driving your vehicle, check that all four tires have sufficient air pressure.
- Driving a vehicle with insufficient air pressure is very dangerous, because the car will not respond as well, and a tire could pop at any point.
Step 2: Check the instrument panel warning lights. When you turn your ignition to the “On” position, most of your warning lights will briefly illuminate to confirm that those systems are turned on. After a few seconds, the illuminated lights will go away.
If any of the lights stay on, don’t drive your vehicle, as that system is likely malfunctioning and not working, and the car is not safe to drive. You should have the warning lights inspected by a reputable mechanic, such as one from YourMechanic.
Step 3: Regularly check your oil. If your vehicle runs low on oil, it will eventually overheat and start to fall apart, which can be extremely dangerous.
Every other week or so, pop the hood and check to make sure that you have a sufficient level of engine oil.
Tips: When you are checking the engine oil level, you should also check the coolant and brake fluid levels.
Part 2 of 2: Take necessary safety precautions when you drive
Step 1: Keep your eyes constantly moving. When driving, it’s very easy to fall into the habit of only looking at the road ahead of you. However, with the amount of other drivers on the road, you really have to look at more than just what’s directly in front of you.
Check your rearview mirror and side view mirrors regularly, so that you are always aware of where your surroundings are. You should never look away from the road for too long, but you should also never let your eyes stop moving for too long.
Step 2: Check your blind spots. Always check your blind spots when changing lanes. A lot of drivers don’t check their blind spots, because they’re convinced that they know where everyone else on the road is from using their side view and rearview mirrors.
However, cars (and motorcycles) can come out of nowhere and completely catch you off guard if you’re not careful. To keep this from happening, always check your blind spots before changing lanes.
Step 3: Use your turn signals. Some of the scariest car crashes happen on the freeway, when two automobiles merge into each other. To help keep this from occurring to you, always use your turn signals before changing a lane.
- Turn signals help alert surrounding drivers that your vehicle will be making a turn or changing lanes, which can save you from having a vehicle merge into the same lane that you are merging into.
Step 4: Don’t drive in another car’s blind spot. If you are in a vehicle’s blind spot, it greatly decreases the chances that they see you.
- Even if they see you at first, they may forget about you if you don’t move at some point. As such, you should constantly be changing the distance between you and the cars around you, so that you’re never in the same part of someone’s vision. This keeps all of your surrounding drivers aware of you, and diminishes the chances of them merging into you.
Step 5: Watch cross traffic. Check cross traffic when driving through an intersection.
Drivers blow red lights with alarming regularity, so always look both ways when crossing through intersections, even when you have a green light.
Warning: This is especially true right after the light turns green, as many people are trying to speed through the yellow light before it turns red.
Step 6: Keep tabs on your speed. Follow the speed limits and suggested speeds. Both the speed limits and suggested speeds are there for a reason. Even if you’re very confident in your driving abilities, stick to the recommended speeds for the safest results.
Step 7: Take a back road. Taking the long way home may take longer, but it’s also safer. The more cars you can avoid, the smaller your chance of getting into a dangerous collision. You don’t need to go crazy trying to avoid any and all traffic, but it’s worth sacrificing a few extra minutes for a much safer driving experience.
Step 8: Be mindful of distance. Keep a lot of distance between you and the car in front of you.
You should always drive a fair distance between you and the car in front of you, in case they have to slam on their brakes.
One of the most common automotive collisions occurs from cars rear-ending other cars because they were tailing them too closely. Stay far enough behind the car in front of you so they can hit the brakes hard without you running into them, and you’ll greatly reduce the chance of being in an accident.
Safety is the most important part of a car, but safety also takes work from the driver. Follow these steps, and your chances of getting in an accident will be much lower than they used to be.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Avoid Getting Into a Car Crash and was authored by Brady Klopfer.