Statistics show that a person is involved in a motor vehicle accident every 11 seconds. However, it remains unclear why this person is allowed to keep getting behind the wheel.
Actually…auto accidents are no laughing matter. There were some 6.4 million auto accidents nationwide in 2003, resulting in 3.2 million injuries and killing more than 41,000 people, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Movin’ on Over – Lane Changing/Sideswipe Accidents
Most roads in use today were built when cars were fewer and traveled at slower speeds. Today’s vehicles are much safer than those of 30 years ago. But since then, the number of miles we drive every year has increased by 130 percent, while our road capacity has increased by only five percent. As a result, our highways are more congested and require more driver caution than ever.
Many crashes occur when vehicles change lanes. The accident usually happens because a motorist simply didn’t look and was not aware that another vehicle was already in the lane next to him.
Before hitting the highway, always make sure your rear-view and side-view mirrors are adjusted properly. Otherwise, they can create some pretty big blind spots and hide your view of a vehicle that might be right next to you. If you don’t adjust your mirrors often, you risk an accident.
Don’t Cross Me – Intersection Accidents
Over 65 percent of urban accidents occur at intersections because motorists sometimes get careless when they are in a hurry. Often times cars rush through intersections at the end of a red light, trying to make a left before opposing traffic enters the intersection. If another car is trying to beat the yellow light, disaster could occur.
Motorists who are the first in line at a red light sometimes stare intently at the light and punch the gas the instant the light turns green. You should always quickly look both ways before proceeding. A pedestrian could be trying to make it through the intersection on the yellow light. Or if you rush into the intersection at the moment the light turns green without looking for an oncoming car, you might get hit. It happens all the time.
Look both left and right when making a right-hand turn. Many of us get in the habit of looking left until traffic is clear and then immediately enter the intersection. After all, it makes sense that traffic should only be coming from the left. However, things on your right can change while you are concentrating on your left-hand side. Once again, a pedestrian may have entered the intersection on your right.
Time and Space – Rear-end Collisions
We have all experienced the frustration of traveling behind another vehicle moving slower than we are. As a result, we sometimes follow closer than we should. This practice of tailgating is risky and can lead to a rear-end collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, rear-end collisions account for approximately 23 percent of all motor vehicle crashes, resulting in approximately 2,000 deaths and 950,000 injuries each year.
When drivers tailgate, they forget – or choose to ignore – the laws of physics that determine their car’s stopping distance. Your stopping distance is directly proportional to the size, weight and speed of your vehicle. By tailgating, you’re making two shaky bets: first, that you can hit your brakes at the same instant the driver in front of you does; and, second, that your stopping distance is no longer than that of the car in front of you. You’re probably wrong on both counts — but it takes only one to make for an auto accident.
The bottom line: the more space your leave between your vehicle and the one in front of you, the less likely you’ll become another sad highway statistic.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Says:
• Always adjust your mirrors to reduce blind spots.
• Check your internal and external mirrors before hitting the road.
• Check for other drivers who may also be moving into the lane.
• Signal to change lanes at least five seconds before beginning your maneuver.
• Give way to vehicles already in the lane you are entering.
• Never change lanes while going through or approaching an intersection.