Whether one is a novice driver or an experienced driver, there are benefits to adopting a more defensive approach to driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), human error is the cause of at least 94 percent of all traffic accidents. Learning how to predict an impending crash can help a driver arrive safely at his or her destination.
Defensive driving means driving with an attitude that helps the driver stay safe and defend themselves and their passengers from serious car accidents. It involves anticipating the moves of other drivers and pedestrians and always staying one step ahead. Not only does defensive driving help save lives, it also saves the expense of costly auto repairs. Additionally, by maintaining a safe speed, which is one important defensive driving technique, one can also save on fuel and make a vehicle as efficient as possible.
While it is normal to feel frustrated when interacting with other drivers, that anger can cloud a driver’s thinking and make them do dangerous things while on the road. Speeding, weaving in and out of lanes without signaling, brake-checking, and tailgating are just a few examples of aggressive driving. Aggressive driving increases the risk of an accident and can even escalate into a dangerous road rage accident with a stranger.
When one thinks about distracted driving, one probably imagines someone texting or looking at their phone behind the wheel. However, anything that takes the driver’s attention off of the road is a distraction, including the radio, eating or drinking, or even a talkative passenger in the car. In 2018, more than 2,800 people were killed in distracted driving accidents in the United States.
Driving While Impaired
There is no debating that drugs and alcohol slows a driver’s reaction time, impairs coordination, and affects a driver’s ability to make smart and safe choices. There are also severe ramifications for driving while impaired. In the United States, a charge for drunk driving or drugged driving can cost a driver to lose their license and can lead to steep fines and legal fees.
Fatigue impacts a person’s ability to drive and is more common than one might imagine. The NHTSA reports that in 2013 alone, driver fatigue was a factor in 72,000 crashes and 800 fatalities. If a driver is having trouble staying awake while driving, it is time to pull over and get some rest.
How Can I Drive Defensively?
Taking a defensive approach can make a difference. Defensive driving is about retaining as much control of the situation as possible and being ready for whatever may happen. The following are some defensive driving techniques a driver can adopt:
- Stay alert: Always stay focus on the road and continually scan the road 20 to 30 seconds ahead of one’s location to look for pedestrians, animals, roadway hazards, and dangerous drivers.
- Follow the speed limit: Maintaining a safe speed offers better control of one’s vehicle. Speed limits exist for a reason and are created to suit the conditions of the area. Driving too fast eliminates the space and time one may need to react when something goes wrong.
- Remove distractions: A driver must commit to keeping focus on the road at all times. It may be tempting to grab a meal or send a text while driving, but a driver only needs to take their eyes off of the road for a few seconds for an accident to happen.
- Expect the worst: Unfortunately, it is naïve to assume every other driver is awake, alert, and sober. Anticipate that other drivers will run stop signs or red lights and be prepared to react accordingly. Make choices based on worst-case scenarios.
- Plan an escape route: A driver should do their best to remain as visible as possible to other drivers. If a motorist ends up in another driver’s blind spot, adjust the speed to relocate as quickly as possible. Look for an escape route while driving in case traffic stops unexpectedly.
What Should I Do if I Am Involved in a Car Accident?
Defensive driving is quite effective at preventing minor fender benders and serious collisions every day, but it is not foolproof. Some accidents simply cannot be avoided. If a driver is involved in a motor vehicle crash, they should follow these steps to protect their right to financial recovery:
- Contact emergency responders
- Seek medical attention immediately for anyone who appears injured
- If possible, safely move the vehicle out of traffic
- Exchange contact information with any drivers involved in the accident
- Document the accident scene with photos
- Ask any witnesses for their contact information
- File a police report
- Notify the auto insurance company
If the other driver was clearly at-fault, their insurance company may ask to agree to a settlement. It is not recommended to sign any documents until one has consulted a trusted car accident lawyer. In many cases, compensation from a legal claim may far exceed an insurance settlement.
Can I Sue for My Medical Bills After an Accident?
Even if a driver does not notice any obvious injuries following the accident, it is always a good idea to see a doctor. Some internal injuries to the head, neck, and spine may not be immediately apparent or can worsen over time. Always keep detailed records of any medical treatments, including prescriptions, emergency room visits, surgeries, and rehabilitation. A driver may have cause to seek damages for medical bills. In addition to compensation for medical care, a successful personal injury claim may also include damages for physical pain, emotional distress, property damage, and the loss of earning capacity.
Pennsylvania is one of few states that also permits punitive damages in extreme cases. If the defendant’s actions were beyond neglectful, a jury might award damages above and beyond compensatory damages. Punitive damages are intended to punish the individual who acted with willful or malicious recklessness and deter others from doing the same. Since every accident is unique, a car accident lawyer is the best resource to clarify whether a case warrants punitive damages.
Philadelphia Car Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Achieve Positive Outcomes for Car Accident Victims
Unfortunately, defensive driving tactics simply are not enough to prevent every motor vehicle collision. Even the most cautious and responsible driver on the road is at risk of a crash caused by another reckless driver. If you sustained injuries from a car accident, contact one of our Philadelphia car accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC. Our lawyers work tirelessly to recover compensation for car accident victims. For a free consultation, contact us online or call us at 215-569-8488. Located in Philadelphia, Abington, and Media, Pennsylvania; Wilmington, Delaware; and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.