Avoiding the Preventable Auto Accident
Webb Insurance is a trusted provider of auto insurance services to help you recover financially after an automobile accident. We are honored to assist our clients in the tough days that follow such an event. Even more than that, we want you to join us in preventing such accidents from happening in the first place. Engineers and vehicle manufacturers add safety features to new vehicles every year. Turn on a television anywhere in the world, and you’ll see commercials proudly announce the newest sedan or SUV with back-up sensors, pre-collision braking, additional airbags, lane-correcting technology and more.
Even with all the advances in safety technology, we continue to see careless driving and accidents on Florida roads every year. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, 100,740 non-criminal moving violations were caught by law enforcement in 2018. This includes drivers running red lights, speeding past children exiting their school buses, texting while driving, running stop signs, failing to stay in their lanes, and more. Most of these non-criminal incidents were likely unintentional. These drivers probably did not intend to endanger children or veer into the path of another car. The most likely reason for their dangerous behavior is simple: distraction.
What Distraction Looks Like
The Mayo Clinic Trauma Center published a video showing a test driver using a distracted driving simulator. It revealed three main types of driver distraction: visual, manual and cognitive.
- Visual driver distraction averts the driver’s eyes from the road and surrounding area.
- Manual driver distraction takes the driver’s hands from the wheel or involves multitasking with both hands on the wheel.
- Cognitive driver distraction causes the driver’s mind to wander from the task of safe driving.
Many drivers, intentionally or not, invite at least one of these types of distraction. Increased vehicle automation over the years (for example, automatic gear shifting rather than manual driver shifting) has made commuting easier in some respects. Unfortunately, automation also invites drivers to fill the time and space with behaviors and thoughts unrelated to the safe driving. Though driving has been made easier in some respects by advancing technology, cars move faster and through more traffic congestion than in decades past. Webb Insurance is dedicated to supporting our customers in the aftermath of an accident, but we prefer to coach you to avoid accidents altogether. Here are a few ways to help ensure safe driving and avoid hurting yourself or someone else.
Prepare for Your Trip
Preparing to drive begins long before you leave. Your car is not your bathroom sink, dressing room, kitchen or breakfast nook.
- Put on all makeup, clothing and accessories and check your appearance before you leave your home, not in your rear view mirror. The car is not an appropriate place to shave.
- Prepare your food early. Give yourself enough time to enjoy a nourishing meal without potentially choking or spilling on yourself in the driver’s seat.
- If you want to speak with someone, do that before you walk out the door. Phone calls and messages should always be sent before you leave, while you can focus on communicating and not on the task of driving. Their replies can wait until you’re not behind the wheel.
Remember that the time to avoid being late begins with planning ahead, and it ends once you start the car. Don’t use reckless driving to make up for failure to plan ahead. Wake up a little earlier; set out your things the night before. Be ready to leave ten minutes earlier than you need to so you and your fellow drivers can enjoy a safer commute. Speeding and aggressive maneuvers around other drivers are not acceptable risks. Consider the potential consequences.
Before turning on your car and hitting the road, make sure you are set up for a safe drive. Keep your car, especially the driver’s area and windows, free of clutter so nothing prevents you from easily using your brakes or reading your gauges. Secure objects like water bottles, purses, bags, and toys so they do not roll or fall as you drive. Loose objects can become dangerous projectiles during a sudden accident. These examples may seem insignificant, but the smallest distractions can lead to devastating harm precisely because they seem so innocuous and excusable. Remember that no distraction is worth your life or someone else’s, bur taking a few extra moments to prepare will always be worth it.
Not sure how to get where you need to be? Look up directions in your GPS or app before you put the car in gear. Take a few seconds to read through the directions provided and familiarize yourself with upcoming turns and landmarks. Navigation systems cannot be counted on to give clear turn-by-turn directions or enough notice before the next step. Read before you leave and have an idea of when turns are coming before the system alerts you. This way, you can already be in the desired lane rather than hurriedly trying to fit in at the last minute, which might tempt you to take an unnecessary risk. Make sure the volume is turned up sufficiently before you go. Ideally, plan to carpool with someone who can help you with the directions so your eyes stay where they should be: on the road ahead.
Hands on the Wheel, Eyes and Thoughts on the Road
Driving is a complex task that requires complete focus and participation. Drivers hear sirens, see people animals darting across the road, and feel the instability of driving on a wet or uneven surface. Like it or not, no one can process this information well when something else is claiming part of our attention. Driving with any type of distraction is comparable to trying to watch a movie for the first time while reading a book or having a conversation.
The National Safety Council has analyzed the use of hands-free phone technology while driving. Many drivers behave as though distraction while driving is safe enough as long as they glance up frequently or keep a hand on the wheel. Unfortunately, this tactic only prolongs the distraction. A text message that would have taken only a second or two to send from a safe parking spot becomes a several-second ordeal filled with risk. The environment around a moving vehicle is always changing, and drivers must be fully present mentally and physically in order to respond to the changes and avoid a potentially deadly accident.
Once you begin driving, focus on what you can control. You can:
- Maintain a legal and safe speed.
- Leave sufficient space between you and the vehicle in front of you so that if they brake suddenly, you have time to stop safely.
- Pay attention to your vehicle’s changing surroundings.
- Always pull over when you need to make a change or talk with someone who is not a responsible adult passenger in your car.
Safely pulling over is always worth it. Taking your full attention off the task of driving is never worth it. Auto insurance can help you pay for repairs, buy a replacement car, and cover hospital bills, but it can’t take back the physical injury and emotional trauma of causing a car accident.