Driving is one of the most dangerous activities that most take part in almost every day. For that reason, you want to ensure that you do so as safely as is possible.
Of course, yes, so many of the accidents that occur are not the fault of one of the drivers or, in some cases, not the fault of either of them. With that said, there are several things that you can do to minimize your chances of being involved in an accident.
Here are some common mistakes that you should avoid making while on the streets and highways.
It can be easy to be distracted, especially if you become overconfident or careless. Your focus should be on driving. Of course, your mind may also be thinking of other things that are going on in your life while you are driving, but you should ensure that your focus is on your vehicle and on the road.
If you cannot stop thinking about or obsessing over something that is stressing you out in your life or perhaps even good news that you received, you may want to delay driving until you can do so without being so distracted by your thoughts.
You also want to make sure to not do something physical that distracts you. Examples include looking at your phone, texting, shaving, applying makeup, turning around to talk to passengers and picking something up that has fallen. Even changing the radio station can end up being a significant distraction.
Also be wary of rubbernecking, of allowing yourself to be distracted as you look at an accident that you are passing. Doing so can result in you taking your eyes off of the road that is ahead of you long enough to cause your own accident.
Being distracted can also show itself in you not paying enough attention to both other drivers on the road as well as any people, animals or objects that may be heading into your path that you need to know about. You want to be constantly analyzing everything that you see and adjusting accordingly. In essence, you should be a defensive driver every time you take your vehicle on the road.
Even if you are focused on driving, if you are rushing, that mentality can result in an accident that would not have otherwise occurred. In this state of mind, you will be more apt to speed and drive recklessly, such as by passing cars in a dangerous manner and rushing late through yellow lights or perhaps even breaking the law and making turns where you are not allowed to or going through red lights.
Drinking or Taking Drugs Beforehand
Unfortunately, drinking or taking drugs before engaging in the act of driving is a mistake that is more common than it should be. If you have consumed any of those types of substances, you will want to delay driving or simply take a taxi. Even if, for example, you are below the legal limit of how much alcohol is in your system, which is 0.08% in Texas, your driving ability will still be hampered as any amount will have an effect on your driving. This is true even before you have reached the “buzzed” stage.
Inadequate Vehicle Maintenance
Even if you are completely sober and focused on the task at hand, you may have already made a mistake before you entered the vehicle: not maintaining it. You should ensure that you regularly bring your car or truck in for checkups and take care of any issues that it is experiencing as soon as they arise.
The quality of your brakes is of utmost importance in having a safe vehicle while you also want to do things such as ensuring that your oil is regularly changed and that the air pressure in your tires is at an adequate level. In the latter case, note that low tire pressure generally results in an increased risk of experiencing a blowout while driving as well as increasing your braking distance.
Also make sure to take care of your transmission and suspension.
Not Keeping Enough Gas in Your Tank
You want to always keep at least a quarter of your gas tank full so that you do not put your vehicle in danger of running out of gas. If it does, that could cause an accident for two main reasons. One is your car not being able to propel itself further when you are in a dicey situation on the road. The other is needing to keep your car in a dangerous place, where it may be susceptible to an accident while there, until you are able to get more gas to put into its engine.
Failing to Keep a Minimum Distance
Some accidents result from drivers not keeping a safe distance between them and the car in front of them. Of course, it is dangerous to be right next to someone’s bumper, but you also want to keep much more than that distance between you and the car that you are following. Generally, the minimum distance to keep in mind is two seconds. See when that vehicle passes a tree or other landmark of sorts and then count until you pass it as well – e.g. “One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.”
Not Always Using Turn Signals
Failing to use your turn signal when changing lanes or while turning is another mistake that you could be making that could lead to an accident. That is because moving into an adjacent lane in front of another driver or turning on to a street may surprise someone else who is not expecting you to do so, and that could result in an accident occurring that otherwise would not have.
Failing to Yield When Required
It is important to yield in situations where it is required for you to do so as failing to do this is something else that can surprise other drivers and cause accidents as a result of your unexpected act. You may then receive liability for any damages that end up resulting from that.
When in doubt, yield the right-of-way to someone else. The most important thing is to avoid an accident, so always take the safer decision.
Having Bad Driving Posture
You should ensure that you are engaging in good driving posture every time you take your vehicle on the road. Have a firm grip on your steering wheel, but do not grab it too tightly. Utilize slightly bent arms and legs. Do not prop your elbow on the car window. Do not have your torso too far from the steering wheel. Keep your head at the middle of the headrest.
Improper Seat Belt Use
Properly use your seat belt, with the lower part just above the pelvic bones and the upper belt over your shoulder. Having the lower belt be above your stomach or not using the shoulder belt at all are things that could make an accident worse or cause one if you are fidgeting with it while driving.
Not Respecting Pedestrians
Remember that the most important thing that you should be doing is doing everything in your power to ensure that there is no accident, ensuring that there is no victim, whenever possible.
One way to do this is to always respect pedestrians, including ones who are not following the law. As you are constantly scanning the road ahead of you and any people, animals or obstacles that may come into it, keep your eyes focused and your mind open to the possibility of people who you do see jaywalking right in front of you.
Driving Too Fast
A common cause of accidents is one or multiple drivers who were involved in it having been speeding. You want to not only adhere to the posted speed limit signs but also take into account the conditions of the road that you are traveling on, associated weather conditions and the speed of the traffic that you are driving with.
What To Do After an Accident
If you do end up in an accident, which can happen even if you avoided making these common mistakes, ensure that you do your due diligence at the accident scene. If you are physically able, take extensive notes, take photos of any damage that was done and of the road and other nearby relevant places that may prove important, and get contact information of any other drivers who were involved in the accident and of any witnesses who saw it.
If you need to consult the services of an attorney, which is recommended, contact us. We at Haney Paschal & Romoser, P.C. have an extensive amount of experience with these types of cases and a thorough understanding of Texas law and will do everything in our power to ensure the best possible outcome from this situation.