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Prevent Accidents Helping family prevent accidents before they happen
Safety on the Road

Defensive Driving — protect yourself from the other guy

Statistics say that about 50,000 people die each year in collisions on American roadways. By most estimates, over 22 million are injured. The costs associated with such collisions are staggering at more than $80 billion. And most shocking of all, nearly 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 from the other guy:

Pay Attention!
"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 make and be ready for them.

Yield Anyway!
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 the principle, but the outcome, that counts.

Don't speed!

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 the 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 covering 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 a crash.

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 air 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 enough to 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 guilty of 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 guy is 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, follow the rules, and 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 won't 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 a collision, or worse. Many collisions occur when a driver is mad, upset, stressed, or distracted in some way.

Heads up!
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 15-20 seconds ahead of your vehicle, farther if you can. This gives you the time to recognize and avoid most potential hazards before they become a problem. This technique 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 stability in the 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!

Create Space.
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? Here’s how we at Anzellotti, Sperling, Pazol & Small advise our clients

Despite your caution, you’ve been in a collision. Now what?

  • NOTIFY THE POLICE. Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of all drivers, owners and occupants of all involved vehicles, as well as the license plate and make, model and color of the vehicles.
  • Get the names, addresses and telephone numbers of witnesses.
  • Do not accept responsibility and do not discuss the cause of the collision with anyone except the police officer at the scene.
  • If 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.
  • See your doctor.
  • Call your attorney or one that practices in the field of personal injury.
    If you need medical attention, and doctors say you need ongoing treatment to get better:
  • As soon as possible, you should consult an attorney who is experienced 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, who can work productively with insurance companies.

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