Driving — protect yourself from the other guy
say that about 50,000 people die each year in collisions
on American roadways. By most estimates, over 22 million
injured. The costs associated with such collisions are
staggering at more than $80 billion. And most shocking of
all collisions are preventable.
Here, we’ll share with you what the experts say are
some of the most important things you can do to protect yourself
the other guy:
"I never saw him!" is the most common excuse heard after a collision. Was
the other vehicle invisible? Virtually all collisions involve
inattention on the part of one or both drivers.
Don’t trust anyone!
You can never rely on what the other driver will do. Keep a
wary eye on the other guy and leave yourself plenty of room.
Anticipate the mistakes he might
and be ready for them.
Remember the poem you learned in high school driver’s training? “He
was right, dead right, as he sped along, but he’s just as dead as if he
were wrong.” Think about it. If you are in doubt about who has the right
of way, give it away. The other guy may be wrong, but you can end up hurt or
dead. If there is uncertainty about which vehicle should have the right of
way, give the other guy the road. When it comes to driving safely, it's not
but the outcome, that counts.
Driving at a higher than reasonable speed increases your risk
in two ways: it cuts your reaction time and results in more "stored" energy that
must be dissipated in any collision. You should consider if the risks are worth
gain. This is the science of math and physics: each incremental increase in
speed reduces your ability to react in time to hazards, because you may be
distance in less time than it takes to react.
Don't Drive Impaired.
The dictionary defines impairment as "making something worse, less, weaker,
or damaged." Applied to driving, impairment means there is a factor present
that decreases your ability to operate your vehicle safely. And it’s not
just impairment through alcohol or other drugs. There are others as well, such
as impairment through fatigue, or as a result of disabling injuries or illness.
Don’t do it.
Wear your seat belt!
No argument here: seat belts are the most significant safety
device ever invented. Seat belts provide impact protection,
they absorb crash forces,
and they keep
you from being thrown out of the vehicle. Modern vehicles are
built with "crumple
zones." The belts hold you in place while the vehicle collapses around your "safe" zone.
Belts help keep you in your place, in control, and better able to avoid
Buy and use safety devices.
In addition to seat belts, it’s also recommended you buy and use size-appropriate
child safety restraints, ABS brakes, and air bags. A child seat should not
be in the front seat, especially if there is an air bag system installed; an
bag impact can injure or kill a child in an incorrectly installed safety seat.
ABS brakes prevent uncontrolled skids during hard braking, by sensing wheel
lock-up and releasing brake pressure (many times per minute), and just long
prevent a skid. Air bags are timed so as you are thrown forward, they expand
to fill the intervening space to prevent your impact on harder surfaces. You
can be injured by an air bag - but the injuries will usually be minor compared
to those you'd incur otherwise.
Don't Run Red Lights!
Running a red light” means your vehicle entered the intersection after
the signal turned red. There are two basic types of red light runners — there's
the daydreamer or distracted driver who just doesn't see it, and then there's
the driver who's impatient and accelerates on the yellow signal instead of
stopping and waiting the average 45 seconds of a signal cycle! Some of us are
both offenses. Are we really in that much of a hurry? Running red lights kills
hundreds of us every year. Also, many accidents could be avoided if drivers
would slow down and stop at yellow lights.
Follow the Rules!
Traffic rules are in place to create the consistency and uniformity
that allow us to predict with some degree of confidence what the other
going to do,
thereby avoiding conflicts and collisions. Ignoring the rules of the
road helps create the chaos you see every day. So, drive precisely,
watch out for the other guy!
No Road Rage, please…
When other drivers make mistakes, or are rude, what do you gain by
letting it affect your attitude or behavior? It doesn't matter. In
ten minutes, you
even remember that it happened. Don't let the error the other driver
commits be the reason you lose control (one way or another) and have
or worse. Many collisions occur when a driver is mad, upset, stressed,
in some way.
This means keep your eyes looking down the road. Many drivers focus
on the road only 5 or 8 seconds ahead. You should be looking about
your vehicle, farther if you can. This gives you the time to recognize
and avoid most potential hazards before they become a problem. This
is also useful
for new drivers when learning how to steer. Keeping your eyes focused
far down the road (instead of just past the end of the hood) creates
roadway and helps to eliminate the unsteady weaving that is one characteristic
of a novice driver. Taking your eyes off the road for as few as three
seconds significantly increases your chances for a deadly accident!
Be sure to actively create space around your vehicle, never allowing
yourself to get "boxed in." Adequate space creates time and helps you avoid
collisions. Maintain at LEAST two seconds of following distance, more if you
can. Adjust your position in traffic as necessary to avoid driving in others'
blind areas. Don't allow yourself to be tailgated — change lanes or adjust
your speed to encourage tailgaters to pass you.
Those are just a few of the things you can do to compensate for
other drivers’ failures.
But what do you do if, just in case, you get in an accident anyway?
how we at Anzellotti, Sperling, Pazol & Small advise our clients
your caution, you’ve been in a collision. Now what?
THE POLICE. Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers
of all drivers, owners and occupants of all involved vehicles,
as well as the license
make, model and color of the vehicles.
the names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses.
not accept responsibility and do not discuss the cause
of the collision with anyone except the police
officer at the
you think you need medical attention, have the police officer
call an ambulance or go to the nearest Emergency
Room or Urgent
Care Center. Advise
them of each
part of your body that you suspect may have been injured.
your attorney or one that practices in the field of personal
If you need medical attention, and doctors say you
need ongoing treatment to get better:
soon as possible, you should consult an attorney who is
in handling personal injury claims.
An insurance company may well call you shortly after
the accident and urge you to “save the cost of an attorney.” Studies have shown, however,
that settlements are higher if a competent personal injury attorney is involved,
can work productively with insurance companies.