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Avoiding injury & liability by driving safe

Author: Christopher Anderson
Published: Oct 13 2013

As the years roll by, most drivers get comfortable behind the wheel and begin to let their safe driving habits lapse. Unfortunately, by not driving defensively, they risk not only their lives, but the lives of others. The best way to avoid a collision and paying through the nose is by following these tips:

Practice Safe Driving Habits

Buckle Up!

If you or your passengers are unsecured, then your vehicle should not be in motion! Keep children in regulation safety seats until they reach the appropriate weight limit and make sure the seats themselves are properly secured. Buckle up, it really does save lives!

Pay Attention

When you’re in the car your eyes — and mind — should be on the road. Using cell phones, cameras and other electronic devices takes your focus off driving and can result in an accident. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol is an obvious no-no, but you should also avoid driving while drowsy.

Keep Your Hands on the Wheel

We’ve all done it. You miss breakfast so you nosh on a snack while driving. Perhaps you didn’t have time to finish shaving or applying your makeup, so you one-hand your grooming habits on the way to work. Whatever your vice is, put it down and keep your hands where they belong, on the steering wheel.

Go With the Flow

It’s important to stay with the flow of traffic, regardless of the posted speed limit. When the majority of traffic is traveling at the same speed, traffic flow improves resulting in fewer accidents. Major differences in speed, whether a driver is going too fast or too slow, can cause collisions and endanger lives.

Keep Your Distance

Keeping a safe distance between your vehicle and the one ahead of you is a key way to avoid accidents. Be sure to leave extra space during winter driving conditions as it will take longer to stop when the road is covered in snow and ice.

Use Your Mirrors

It’s always a good idea to know what’s going on around you. Adjust all your mirrors before hitting the road and get in the practice of checking them often so you know what's coming up in the next lane. Don’t forget to check your blind spots!

After an Accident

If you're involved in an accident, the first thing you should do is make sure no one in the car is injured. Next, check on the driver and passengers in the other vehicle. Stay calm and take a few deep breaths. The more composed you are, the better you’ll handle the situation.

Taking the following steps after a collision are not only essential, they could save you from being held liable.

- Call 911 or the police as soon as possible.

- Never leave the scene of an accident until you are released by law enforcement. Leaving early can result in additional violations or fines.

- If your vehicle is drivable, move it out of traffic to avoid secondary collisions. If you can't move your car, don't try.

- If you can't get out of your car—or it's not safe to do so—keep your seatbelt fastened, turn on your flashers and wait for help to arrive.

- Don't get into an argument with the other driver or accept or place blame. You should only speak to the other driver to make sure they are uninjured and to gather information.

- Exchange driver's license numbers, vehicle registration, license plate number and state, and insurance information with the other driver.

- Write down as much information as you can. Include date, time, weather and road conditions. Take photos of the scene, including the vehicles and any damage, the roads, traffic signs, and the direction each vehicle was traveling.

- Get the names and contact of any witnesses.v

- Obtain a copy of the accident report and call your insurance provider to report the claim. The sooner you alert your agent, the sooner the claim process begins.

By following these tips and driving defensively you can avoid being on the hook for an accident. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Christopher Anderson writes on behalf of CoverLaw, which specializes in personal injury cases in San Clemente, CA. Chris spends his spare time snowboarding, conversing with gearheads and drinking copious amounts of coffee.

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