Guide To Car Safety
Driving Tips: How To Avoid Common Car Accidents
The distinct smacking sound of your car colliding with something else is the last sound anybody wants to hear--and with a few preventative measures you can reduce your chances of an accident dramatically. Bruce MacInness, senior instructor at the Skip Barber Mazda Driving School (which offers one- and two-day defensive driving classes at different tracks nationwide) gave us the low-down on avoiding the most common types of accidents.
There are two simple things a driver can do to reduce the chances of any type of accident: look as far ahead as possible, and to follow about three seconds behind the car in front of you, regardless of your speed, according to MacInness. "By looking ahead you are more likely to see situations that are potentially dangerous, such as someone waiting to make a turn or an object in the road, and you have time to respond accordingly," he explained. Similarly, allowing about three seconds between your car and the car in front also gives you time to react.
What To Do If: You're Swerving Suddenly
Swerving suddenly to avoid an animal, another vehicle or other object in your path can result in a collision with another car or even lead to a rollover. Your best bet is to avoid swerving altogether by looking far enough ahead to be aware of the hazard, according to MacInness. "If swerving is unavoidable, turn the steering wheel first, then apply the brakes to reduce the chance of a rollover," he said.
What To Do If: You Get A Flat Tire While Driving
Blowing a tire can be a scary experience and the sudden loss of tire pressure can mean a car that is difficult to control, but rapidly slowing down can make it even harder to maintain control. "Gradually ease off the power and keep the car driving as straight as possible," he advised. "Once the car is moving slowly, ease over to the roadside and stop safely."
What To Do If: You're Running Off the Road
If you run off the pavement onto dirt or snow at the roadside, it's a natural reaction to swerve back onto the road quickly, but do so and you'll risk a rollover. "Instead, turn the steering wheel so the car is traveling straight and gradually slow down. Once you've stopped, safely pull back onto the road," he said.
What To Do If: You're Sliding On Wet Pavement
When the roads are slick, it's easy for your car to go from being a little off balance to sliding out of control. "If your car starts sliding, the quickest way to get it going straight again is to turn in the direction of the skid," said MacInness. Because your hands follow your eyes, look where you want to be going, which is probably not the direction you are headed.
While MacInness' tips can turn a potential collision into a near miss, staying focused on your driving is key to avoiding these sticky situations entirely. Research shows that collisions are far more likely to occur when a driver is distracted, such as by looking at a child in the back seat or reading a map, or multi-tasking, such as by using a cell phone (even hands-free) or eating.
Stay focused, look as far ahead as possible and leave a good distance between you are the other cars and those finger-clenching situations will be a thing of the past.
By Tara Baukus Mello