Our friends were recently riding their motorcycle when a car in front of them was hit square in the hood by another car’s tire. No lie. The truth is that we’ve all witnessed an accident or two—or have been part of a car accident or two or three…(ahem). They’re not pleasant, but they can be avoided—sometimes—if you take these basic driving and maintenance tips to heart, and to the bank when you’re not paying for another car accident (or losing a tire or…).
Check your brakes
To avoid sliding through an intersection or running into something (you know the “I need to stop now…now…no…now!!!”), pay attention to your car. If your brakes show any signs of replacement, such as a grating sound, squealing, shaking during braking, or one of these other tell-tale signals, get your car in ASAP for an appointment.
Keep good tires on your car
Your car’s tires are your direct contact on the road, which is why tires with little tread wear can cause an accident. Check your tire tread wear regularly (here are directions for checking tire tread here) or replace your tires when they get hard (this is common for tires that don’t get a lot of miles on them). If you have any questions about when is the right time for new tires, ask your mechanic.
Keep your eyes on the road, and always be ready to avoid potential accidents. Plan an escape route at all times, and scan the road and ditch for obstacles (think deer) or problem drivers. Use this same philosophy in parking lots, where one wrong move can cause thousands of dollars in damage.
Know who (and what) you can and can’t see
Every vehicle has blind spots. Being aware of where your blind spots are is critical to avoiding accidents on the road—and in the parking lot. In addition to knowing the limitations of your mirrors and visibility, know the blind spots of the other drivers around you. Do not, DO NOT, drive in their blind spots—unless you want to get in a car accident.
Be distraction free
We can hear the sighs and feel the rolling eyes coming on already: another lecture about distraction-free driving. This is one of those times where you need to listen to the lectures; study after study has proven that drivers without distractions are safer drivers. Keep your hands on the wheel, your kids in their seats (and not fighting), your eyes on the road, your cell phone put away, and all other distractions to a minimum when you’re on the road.
Leave plenty of room in front of your car
We admit that this isn’t always possible, like when you’re stuck in rush hour traffic. When it is possible, leave room in front of your vehicle when driving—and even more than that when conditions are slippery, like during a storm or winter weather.
Avoid drowsy driving
Try to stay off the road when you’re tired. Tired drivers can’t anticipate as well, and react slower than alert drivers. Get some shut eye when you’re not on the road, so you can drive your best when you are.
Don’t mix drinking and driving
Just don’t do it. If you even think you may be impaired by alcohol, ask a friend for a ride or call a taxi. It’s not worth the ticket, or the accident, from one too many.
You don’t have to crawl down the freeway, but you should be smart about your speed. This is especially true during heavy rains and wintry weather, when traction is at a premium. Even when the weather is perfect and the road is clear, remember you’re not driving in the Indy 500. You’ll have more time to react, and fewer tickets and accidents on your record.