Most car accidents can be avoided with some common sense and driver experience. So let’s take a look at the most common car accident claims insurance companies receive and what you can do to avoid them (and the possibility of a legal battle).
These days there are too many distractions at our fingertips and this is why it’s the number one cause of car accidents. It’s easy to say, but doing it in practice is another thing. Imagine you are driving down a quiet suburban street and you get a text message alert. Instead of pulling over safely to read it, you think it’s safe enough to quickly see who it’s from. Suddenly a child runs out to retrieve a ball on the street directly in front of you. I don’t need to tell you the rest. Remember, its common sense 101, and it could save lives. So here’s a brief list of DON’Ts while driving: No texting, No phone or video calls, No selfies, No make-up application or squeezing pimples, No unsecured pets on your lap or able to distract you in any way, No entering new directions into a GPS, No reading texts or magazines, No smoking, No changing CD’s, No shaving, No eating (you know that if sauce dripped down the front of your dress or jeans, or a lit smoke falls on your lap, your attention would be on yourself, not the road).
Your number one reason for driving is to get somewhere safely. A lot of new drivers haven’t quite got the experience of how far behind a vehicle they need to be to react and break safely if the car in front suddenly puts on the breaks. I know it can be irritating if the driver in front is driving slowly or hogs the road so you can’t get past. However, you don’t know the reason why they are doing so and therefore can’t predict what they would do next. They could be following the real culprit if you can’t see ahead of them. They could be on drugs or drunk, upset following some bad news, bi-polar or easily prone to road rage. They could be elderly and trying to get home safely. Tailgating can also antagonize people and they break suddenly to get you to back off. Think about how your safety is also of concern in these circumstances. And what if you have a car tailgating you when you are tailgating someone else? If an accident happens, you get rear-ended and pushed into the car in front. Once you consciously stay back from the vehicle in front, it will become second nature, and you could do without the hassle of an accident or being the victim of road rage.
Inexperience and a lack of understanding the limits of your car and its overall condition are the major contributors here. Speed limits are put into place so that most unforeseen circumstances can be reacted to without causing a serious accident. I’ve seen too many accidents (causing serious injury or death) from inexperienced drivers turning corners too fast, losing control on wet roads or gravel surfaces, and weaving through highway traffic. There are 2 main causes for speeding: Running late or wanting to test the limits and race the car next to it. Neither option is worth losing life or limb for.
4. Drink Driving
We all know driving alcohol impairs and slows our reaction times and thinking processes, so think ahead. If you know you are going to drink, ensure you have enough money for an Uber or taxi, or organize for someone to pick you up – don’t risk it. Your insurance company will not cover you for any situation, even if you weren’t at fault and a breathalyzer test shows a positive reading.
5. Running Red Lights
Just like speeding, people usually choose to run red lights because they are running late or speed up to avoid having to wait 30 seconds to a minute until the change to green again. They may also be following a procession if moving house, going to a wedding or funeral, or going back to someone’s house for some action.
6. Reckless Driving
Reckless driving doesn’t just include wildly erratic weaving through city or highway traffic lanes to get ahead, being aggressive and tailgating, unlawful overtaking, and driving cars that are not safe to be on the road. It also includes the very serious predicament of being tired or exhausted from a long work shift, driving continuously for hours, or poor health issues.
You may think low-profile tires are the coolest thing since hip-hop music, but they are the riskiest when it comes to wet weather. Road surfaces become slippery and visibility reduces, especially in torrential downpours. Make sure your tires have plenty of tread, ensure the wheel alignment on your car is correct, and that your brakes work well. When you’re out, slow down if it gets too bad and turn your low beam headlights on so you can see the road or others can see you.
Unfortunately, not all roads are perfect or remain that way. Always check the road surface ahead of you and avoid if possible without heading into oncoming traffic, as potholes can cause major damage to your car including a broken axle.
9. Tire Blowouts
Sometimes unavoidable, tire blowouts instantly cause the car to swerve one way or another. Pull over as soon as possible and put your hazard lights on to let other motorists know there’s a problem. If you don’t know how to change a tire, get on the phone and call someone who can. Driving on a blown tire will only cause much worse damage to your car. Ensuring your tires have plenty of tread and are not too old helps, as bald tires run the risk of bursting at any time and are a time bomb waiting to happen. It is also essential to make sure you have a spare tire and that it is regularly checked for air pressure.
10. Driving in the Wrong Direction or Improper Turning
We’ve all taken a wrong turn or have been in the wrong lane to turn off somewhere at one time or another. However, the answer is not to continue down a one-way street the wrong way, or reverse back on a highway to reach your desired turnoff. It is also not to do a u-turn when not permitted. T-Bone collisions from illegal turns, swerving from inexperienced reversing, and driving into one-way traffic have become more of an issue in recent times. The best option is to carry on to the next turn off (or turn around to face the correct way in a one-way street) as it won’t cause problems with other drivers. You will still get to where you want, just a little longer. The alternative is an accident, fines, car repairs, time without your car, or loss of license depending on any demerit points.
11. Night Driving
Lack of visibility and fog can also hinder what you see when driving. When there are no cars in front or oncoming, use your full-beam headlights to see further ahead, and remember to alter them back to low beam so you don’t blind any cars that appear.
12. Teenage/Inexperienced Drivers
Practice, practice, practice. I know it seems cool to pick up all your friends and show off your recently purchased car, but doing this only reduces your ability to concentrate with too many distractions. Do a Defensive Driving Course, make driving your hobby, and spend time in different driving conditions and weather situations to get the hang of them without other passengers.
13. Design Defects
This comes about from flaws in the manufacture of some parts. Often this can be through faulty airbags or dashboard components. It’s essential to check for any recalls for your car and have them done before an accident occurs or are no longer covered by your insurance company (as after a certain period, it is your responsibility to have ensured the defects have been fixed – not the car company).
Not all drugs are taken illegally. Some prescription drugs forbid us from driving, and the effects can affect people differently. Some people become sedated, while others become fearless and aggressive. Don’t get behind the wheel of a car on any forbidden drug is the simple answer.
15. Driving an Unsafe Car
If you are driving with bald tires, headlights that either don’t work or only work on full-beam, a loose bumper, worn brake pads, or a whole list of other faults, not only are you directly responsible for any accident, but also will not be covered by insurance.
16. Unexpected Animals
Animals don’t know how cars work and drivers think, so therefore only do what their instincts tell them. Driving at night or in low light conditions requires extra attention, especially in wooded areas, areas with animal crossing signs, or even suburban streets where stray cats and dogs zip out in front of a car. Not only is there guilt and heartache of hitting, maiming, and/or possibly killing an animal, but there is also the repair bill for the seen or unseen damage done to the car.
17. Construction Zones
If you are approaching an area of roadworks or construction site, it can be difficult to see exactly where to go at first. Following the required speed limits, the cones, and keeping a safe distance from the driver in front ensures a positive outcome.
Concentration is key. Knowing the road rules, using common sense and being aware of other drivers, pedestrians, animals, and getting as much experience in different situations as possible will help reduce the risks of human error.