How can I avoid road hazards to help prevent vehicle accidents?
While you are driving you should always utilize all of your senses to avoid potential road hazards and to prevent vehicular accidents. Visually scan the road ahead to allow time to react safely to approaching situations. Continuously scan the side and rear for passing or approaching vehicles. Assume other drivers will make errors. Adjust speed, direction, and position to safely negotiate any road hazards. Report unusual and dangerous road conditions to the local authorities to protect other drivers.
Stay alert at all times. For long drives, it’s suggested that you take periodic breaks at rest stops. This will keep your senses sharp. If you are using a radio try and keep it low or open a window so that you can hear other hazards, such as drivers honking, or in the event that emergency vehicles may need to pass you by. Never wear headphones while driving.
Safe Following Distance
Rear-end crashes are very common. Keep a safe distance from the vehicles in front of you so that you have time to react. A good rule to follow is the three-second rule. Choose an object near the road ahead, such as a road sign or light pole. As the vehicle ahead of you passes it, count slowly, “one-thousand-one, one-thousand two, one thousand three.” If you reach the object before you finish counting, you are too close to the vehicle ahead of you. On wet or icy roads, or when other hazardous conditions are apparent, you should adjust this rule accordingly by at least double. Also be sure to take into account your vehicle’s weight and other factors that might help you determine a safe reaction time distance. For example, if you are driving a heavy truck, or pulling a trailer, you will need more time to react because of the additional weight.
Cell phone use, text messaging while driving, electronic device accidents
Cell phone use and text messaging while driving takes your attention from the road and takes away valuable seconds of reaction time to dangerous hazards. Drivers who use cell phones are four times more likely to be in a crash while using a cell phone and are responsible for thousands of deaths each year. (1997 New England Journal of Medicine examination of hospital records and 2005 Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study linking crashes to cell phone records). Certain states and municipalities have enforceable (or are in the process of enacting) statutes concerning this major safety issue and you may be cited for the use of electronic devices while driving. If you need to utilize any electronic device it’s suggested that you pull off the road and out of the way of any hazards.
Safe Driving Tips for Everyday Driving – Great safety driving tip resource provided by the State of Missouri.
Distracted Driving – Cell Phones While Driving – Simple fact sheet from the National Safety Council.
File Safety Complaints – Department of Transportation – How to report safety issues you observe related to defects in vehicles, tires, equipment, child restraint devices that may contribute to road hazards.
Driving Defensively – Safety is your responsibility but don’t forget to keep an eye on “the other guy”.
Drowsy Driving – Recognize the symptoms of fatigue. Another fact sheet from the National Safety Council.