According to the National Highway Safety Administration, 94% of all motor vehicle accidents are due to human error. Recognition errors such as distractions, failure to monitor, and inattention account for 41% of all accidents. Since recognition errors are largely in drivers’ hands, this cause of accidents may be remedied with effective defensive driving.
What is defensive driving?
Defensive driving is a set of techniques that allow a driver to keep themselves and others safe by employing effective responses to potential dangers. A driver’s response to such events as damaged roads, debris, and dangerous weather can prevent a serious accident. A defensive driver, as defined by Progressive Insurance, is one who remains alert and prepared for the unexpected while controlling what is in their power to control.
The following are five ways to drive defensively.
Follow Speed Limits
According to the NHTSA, 11,258 individuals died in car accidents because of speeding. Although it is one of the most common aggressive driving behaviors, speeding is preventable. Drivers should always drive the speed limit while remaining alert to any changes in limits along their journey. Additionally, drivers should also drive slower than the indicated speed limit when there are hazardous road conditions, poorly lit roads, and inclement weather.
Refrain From Drugs and Alcohol
Drivers should never be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Drugs and alcohol increase the chance that a driver will be in an accident by 21% as reported by the NHTSA’s behavioral safety research study entitled “Drug and Alcohol Crash Risk”. Remaining sober also pertains to prescription medication that may alter a person’s ability to navigate a vehicle safely. If an individual is planning to celebrate with alcohol or is taking medication, they should enlist a designated driver before departing to any festivities. For more tips on preventing drunk driving visit panterlaw.com/2020/12/11/prevent-holiday-drunk-driving.
Remain Alert and Aware
Road conditions may change in an instant. Effective defensive drivers will continuously scan roadways beyond what’s immediately in front of them. Drivers should remain aware of the driving behaviors of others and be prepared to respond immediately. For example, if there is a large obstacle on the road ten cars ahead, a driver should be prepared to move over should another driver ahead of them swerve into their lane in an effort to avoid the debris.
Keep A Safe Following Distance
The National Safety Council recommends a minimum safe following distance of three seconds. To determine if a driver is a safe following distance from the car ahead of them, they should choose an overhead marker like a tree or highway sign and count how long it takes them to reach the marker after the driver ahead of them has passed it. If the driver counts three seconds or more, they could be said to be following at a safe distance. Keeping a safe distance allows drivers to react to unexpected events such as sudden braking in a way that prevents traffic accidents.
Avoid Distracted Driving
In Money Geek’s “Worst States For Distracted Driving”, Florida ranked number fourteen out of fifteen states with the worst distracted driving records with 514 distracted driving-related deaths between 2019 and 2020.
According to the Florida Department of Transportation, distracted driving is defined as anything that takes the driver’s attention away from the task of driving. Distracted driving may take three forms – manual, visual, and cognitive. An example of a manual distraction is when a driver takes their hands off the steering wheel. A visual distraction occurs when a driver takes their eyes off the road, such as when an individual checks their phone while driving. When a driver’s mind is on something other than driving, it is considered a cognitive distraction.
A simple way to combat distracted driving is to prepare for any journey, long or short, beforehand, so that a driver’s eyes and mind remain firmly on the road. Some examples include pulling over to answer a phone call, keeping a cell phone mounted on the car at eye level, and turning on a phone’s “do not disturb” mode. Additional tips on how to prevent distracted driving may be found at panterlaw.com/2022/01/10/safe-driving-resolution.
Dedicated Car Accident Attorneys
At Panter, Panter, and Sampedro, we strive to help keep our communities safe through safety resources like this. However, when the unexpected does occur, we are dedicated to helping families through every step of the legal process. Speak to one of our experienced personal injury attorneys at (305) 662-6178.