Most days, we drive to and from work or make shopping trips without a second thought. After all, driving is such a part of life nowadays that it’s easy to forget how dangerous it can be. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 37,461 car accident deaths in 2016, including almost 400 deaths in Massachusetts (2017 statistics have not yet been released).
Here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance, we want to make sure that all of our clients are safe on the road, so we have compiled a list of the most common causes of car accidents, and how you can avoid being involved in a crash.
One of the most significant causes of auto accidents is speeding. Approximately 30% of auto collision related deaths involved someone exceeding the speed limit. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to get somewhere a little faster, but the risk of going too fast just isn’t worth the seconds you will save. Speed limits are determined for a reason, so please respect them – it could help you avoid a ticket, as well as possible accidents.
Disobeying Traffic Laws
Many other car accidents each year are caused by drivers disobeying traffic laws. Most common in this category is running red lights, often caused by trying to speed through and “beat” a yellow light. Let’s face it, no one wants to stop and wait for the light to cycle, but it’s worth adding the extra minute or two to your drive to ensure that you cross intersections safely, instead of getting hit by another car or striking a pedestrian or bicyclist.
Because of how much we drive in our lives, it may seem like a ‘no big deal’ activity. In fact, driving while impaired is very dangerous. When you drive, you need to make sure that your reaction time is uninhibited, and this means not driving under the influence of substances like alcohol and drugs (both recreation and prescription). If you are impaired for any reason, do not get behind the wheel – stay where you are, or get a friend or taxi to transport you.
Nowadays, it seems like everything is in need of our attention. When you’re driving, though, your attention should be focused 100% on the road. Many accidents occur because a driver was focused on their cell phone, their passengers or children, or even just taking a few seconds to fiddle with the radio. It may seem silly to most people, but pulling over (or at least waiting until you are at a full stop) is the only safe way to handle distractions while driving.
One thing that drivers have no control over is the weather. On foggy days, visibility is reduced. Rain reduces visibility and causes roads to become slick. In Boston, we also have to deal with snow and ice in the winter, which cause blocked and slick roadways. To avoid the possibility of getting into an accident, try to avoid driving in adverse weather conditions. If it can’t be avoided, practice extreme caution by reducing your speed and increasing your following distance. It may cause your journey to take an extra few minutes, but it is worth it in order to reach your destination safely.
Emotional or Fatigued Driving
Your state of mind is a huge factor in determining how safely you drive. Driving while drowsy or fatigued can lead to decreased focus on both the road and other drivers, and also greatly decreases your reaction time. Equally as dangerous is driving while emotional – getting behind the wheel while sad, angry, or overly stressed can lead to being distracted, or taking unnecessary risks on the road. Before you drive, make sure that you are in a balanced emotional state. Otherwise, wait until you are ready or have someone else do the driving.
Bonus Tip: Wear Your Seatbelt!
An unbuckled seatbelt isn’t a cause for collisions, but it is critical to make sure that you are wearing your seatbelt to avoid injury if you are involved in an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “safety belts reduce the fatality risk of front-seat occupants of passenger cars by 45 percent.” Remember, it’s also the law – all drivers and passengers in Massachusetts must wear their seat belts, with very few exceptions.
Follow these tips and you will be much less likely to be involved in an auto accident. Also ensure that you practice defensive driving techniques so that you are aware of other drivers on the road that may not be as cautious. And if you know another driver that could use a reminder of these techniques, please share this post with them!
Also remember that it is critical to make sure that your car is protected so that you don’t encounter a financial speed bump if your car is damaged. Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance at 617-298-0655 for a free Massachusetts auto insurance quote, or to review your coverage and find out if it is enough. You should talk to your insurance agent at minimum once a year to update your policies on any changes that you have made in your life, including is there are any new drivers in the house, or if your driving habits have changed.