With more than 40,000 yearly fatalities from traffic accidents and 4.6 million injuries, simply getting in your car is a risky proposition. It’s also a fact of life, especially in Southern California.
And yet most of these accidents aren’t random. Today, there is real scientific data out there on the most common problems drivers encounter while on the road, and what to do about them. In fact, most of the evidence compiled by researchers, including those by the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies and the University of Michigan, have found that there are several types of common driving events outside of drug and alcohol impairment that lead to fatalities and injuries.
Car Accident Scenario #1: Right Turn on Red
With right on red legal in most situations in California, who doesn’t occasionally fail to stop before making a right turn at a light? Sadly, a lot of us. And even if you’re looking for cars coming in your direction, you may miss a pedestrian or bicyclist trying to cross. In fact, more than 6% of pedestrian fatalities occur in in “rolling through a red turn” scenarios. Even more horrific: a quarter of those pedestrian fatalities are children.
How to Prevent It: Stop completely at the red light. Before making a right turn, look for traffic, and look again for pedestrians crossing in either direction. The extra few seconds it takes you might very well prevent disaster.
Car Accident Scenario #2: Left Turns Into an Intersection
We all know this can be risky, but did you know more than 12% of car accidents come from these kinds of turns? Whether it’s someone speeding through the intersection in the opposite direction, or failing to judge the timing correctly ourselves, the left turn against traffic (even if you have a green directional arrow) is a risky move. Accidents from these kinds of turns can do major damage to cars, lives and your wallet.
How to Prevent It: Take extra care. Don’t speed through the intersection, and don’t take a chance. Don’t enter the intersection to “wait” to make a left turn unless you are absolutely sure it is safe to do so. You are exposed when you are stopped in the middle of an intersection. Don’t assume cars approaching you from the opposite direction see you or that they will slow down to let you complete your turn. The same goes for cross traffic. If cars approaching the intersection from the right or left are not slowing down for their red lights, don’t assume they will!
Car Accident Scenario #3: Tailgating
It’s annoying. You’ve been in traffic for hours, maybe, and the elderly lady in front of you is driving like they’re out for a Sunday stroll. It can be frustrating, especially when you’re on the freeway. And yet, did you know that the data shows driving too close to the car in front of you causes more than a quarter of all traffic accidents?
Furthermore, as unbelievable as it seems, the data shows that speeding in urban environments saves you exactly…. twenty six seconds day, on average, to get from one place to another and back again. Looked at another way, that’s 2 minutes a week for the average commuter. Weighed against the risks from careless driving, it’s just not worth it.
How to Prevent It: Just don’t do it. You know when you are doing it so this is easy preventable. In this case, Grandma might be right. Take your time. Follow the “Two Second Rule” (or better yet the Three Second Rule) which is that a driver should stay at least two seconds behind any vehicle that is directly in front of his or her vehicle. If you are being tailgated, remain calm and don’t allow your emotions to get the better of you. Pull over and allow the vehicle to pass. Do not force yourself to travel faster than you feel safe doing.
Car Accident Scenario #4: Lane Change
More than 33% of all accidents occur from moving from one lane to another. With so many people on the phone, chit chatting, eating, and switching radio stations as they drive, distracted drivers spell disaster, especially when it comes to switching lanes.
How to Prevent It: The move may seem easy, but it doesn’t matter how good a driver or how smart you are. The situational awareness going into a safe lane change requires extra attention and single-minded effort, every time. Every time you change lanes you should check four different areas for other vehicles: your left and right side mirrors, your rear view mirror, and your vehicle’s blind spot. Remember to take your time when changing lanes, and remember to signal.
We all know traffic is a bear here in Southern California, and it can be so easy to get complacent. But paying a little extra attention during these everyday traffic scenarios, and you might avoid a mistake, fatal or otherwise. And for families with teens? With more than double the rate of traffic fatalities per mile for drivers aged 16 to 19, take a minute to familiarize your kids with these issues. The lives you save may be not only your own, but your loved ones, too.
Stay safe out there.
Have you or someone you love been in a car accident? Know your rights. It’s time for a free consultation with the experts at Manibog Law.
Call us today at 1-800-MANIBOG.