Whilst other kinds of risk in life may be beyond your control, the responsibility for taking road traffic accident preventative measures is balanced between you, other road users and the organisations responsible for maintaining the roads. When it comes to other road users, the general advice is always to assume they will do something stupid; by thinking in this way you are prepared to take action if they do.
Where maintenance is concerned, you can have a useful influence by making sure you inform the local council if you see potholes or similar problems develop. Where you personally are concerned, there are a number of things you can do to stay safe.
Don’t take chances
Impulsiveness and risk-taking is a natural part of human behaviour. Unfortunately, where driving on the public highway is concerned, this can put lives at risk. Many accidents are caused by simple bad luck in situations where relying on luck was not necessary in the first place. Remember, more important than getting somewhere quickly is getting there safely.
You may get away with running a red light or speeding any number of times, but you never know when your luck might run out, and it might not be you who pays the price.
Using a mobile phone, even a hands-free one or eating or drinking whilst driving, can all significantly increase the odds of you being involved in an accident. If your luck does eventually run out, you will be much less likely to be seriously injured if you are wearing a seatbelt. However, you must make sure it is worn correctly and adjusted for your height.
If this is not the case it is possible you could slide underneath the belt during a crash. Finally, if something goes wrong and you have to stop on the hard shoulder, put on your hazard lights and leave your vehicle, standing as far from the road as possible. Other drivers are often careless about drifting onto the hard shoulder and your vehicle faces a much greater risk of being hit there than when it’s moving.
Drink and drugs
We all process alcohol slightly differently, so the only way to be truly safe is not to drink at all if you are planning to drive. Bear in mind that if you are drinking at night, the following morning there may still be too much alcohol in your system for you to drive safely. Your reaction speed can be significantly impaired, even if you feel completely sober.
Most people understand that driving when under the influence of illegal drugs, for example cannabis, which may calm you down and make you take things slowly, is dangerous. What is not so widely understood is that prescription drugs can also be problematic.
You should always read the advice leaflet on any new medication carefully and avoid driving if you feel in any way unwell.
It may surprise you to hear it, but tiredness causes more road accidents in the UK than drink and drugs combined. It is essential that you are able to concentrate when driving. If you are really tired, stop and rest as soon as possible, then have caffeine or fruit juice to perk you up.
At Accident Advice Helpline we deal with compensation claims for countless traffic accidents that need not have happened. Taking simple road traffic accident preventative measures really is worthwhile.
Date Published: October 23, 2013
Author: David Brown