Driving a car is such a potentially dangerous – even deadly – activity that it never ceases to amaze me how negligent people often are when they get behind the wheel. As an accident and injury lawyer, I probably have seen just about every way a person can crash into another vehicle over the past 31 years, so I thought I would share a few friendly reminders on how you can keep away from the ER — and my office when the other driver’s insurance company refuses to pay you for your damages.
1. Anticipate bad driving. Assume the other driver is not going to obey our traffic laws. Glance frequently at your mirrors and all around you. As we were taught in the Boy Scouts, be prepared. A new client told me on Monday that he was rear ended by a man who was ogling the woman driving behind him in his rear view mirror — and even admitted that to the police officer so I can use that as evidence in court, should this case come to that.
2. Keep a safe following distance, at least two or three seconds, between your and the vehicle in front of you.If you rear end someone, the law will presume that you were negligent.
3. And stay away from tail gaters. Change lanes, pull over, or slow down so they will pass you. Don’t get involved in road rage.
3. Don’t be in a hurry. Avoid frequent lane and speed changes which increase your chances of getting into a collision. Stay out of the fast lane whenever possible, as the highest percentage of highway accidents occur there.
4. Be aware of your vehicle’s blind spots and anticipate other’s, especially tractor-trailers.
5. Look ahead and try to see what vehicles in front of you are seeing so you will be prepared to stop suddenly, change lanes, or take other evasive action. The law requires you to do this.
6. Be wary as you cross intersections, even if you have the green light or right of way. Look both ways, as far too many injury cases arise from these situations.
7. Avoid, or at the very least minimize, driver distractions. TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE. I can’t tell you how many wrecks are caused by people looking down to check an incoming text — or by people who are texting while they drive, let alone dialing numbers or just zoning out as they talk. Do not constantly switch radio stations or temperature settings or take your eyes off the road.
8. Be aware of distracted drivers next to you, e.g. a woman putting on makeup or vehicles like beat up pickup trucks.
9. Try to drive as little at night as possible, and never at 2:00 o’clock a.m. when bars are closing. I have handled many cases when drunk drivers crashed into innocent people at these late hours.
10. Maintain your car. Keep up on your tire rotations, oil changes, brake checks and maintenance schedules to make sure your car is efficient and that all systems react at a moment’s notice.