1. Equipment Check
- Check your brakes, tire tread depth, suspension and most importantly your brake lights to make sure they are in proper working order.
- Adjust your mirrors prior to driving to make sure you can clearly see behind you and that your blind spots are covered. For information on how to properly adjust your mirrors click here. Hint, you're probably doing it wrong.
3. Following Distance
- You should always maintain an appropriate following distance of two full seconds under ideal driving conditions.
- Increase following distance up to four seconds in adverse weather, at high speeds, at night, behind motorcycles, when driving a larger than normal vehicle or when towing a trailer.
- To check your following distance pick a fixed object on the side of the road like a sign post and then count the time between when the vehicle in front of you passes that object and when you pass that object. Count it nice and slow, one thousand and one.......one thousand and two, then adjust your distance accordingly.
- If the driver behind you is following at an unsafe distance or is obviously distracted while driving then safely change lanes or find an opportunity to pull over and let them pass.
- When you stop during traffic you should be able to see the rear tires of the vehicle in front of you. In stop and go traffic on a freeway this is especially important as vehicles behind you may be approaching at a high rate of speed. This extra gap will leave you with an escape option to the shoulder of the road if necessary.
4. Plan Ahead
- Don't just look at the car right in front of you, pay attention to the road well ahead of you so that you can anticipate traffic lights, lane closures, road debris, stopped vehicles or accidents coming up. If the vehicle two cars in front of you is applying the brakes then you should probably take your foot off the gas and prepare to stop as well.
- Give the drivers behind you plenty of time to react to any stops or turns that you are about to make. If you are approaching a red light and you know that you will have to stop, take your foot off the gas early and apply gentle pressure to the brakes. This will force the vehicle behind you to slow gradually as well. If you wait until the last second to brake aggressively then if the driver behind you is not paying attention they may not be able to stop in time. This will help prolong the life of your brake pads and your wallet will thank you.
- Use your turn signal well in advance of turning or making lane changes to indicate to other drivers that you will be making a turn.
5. Keep the Pace
- Avoid driving much slower or faster than the other vehicles around you. This also includes merging into moving traffic. If you are travelling below freeway speeds when you merge into traffic you run the risk of being struck from behind at high speeds which can have fatal consequences.
6. Pay Attention
- Avoid multitasking when driving. This includes texting and talking on your phone, screaming at your kids, eating lunch, reading the newspaper and my all time favorite putting on makeup while on the freeway.
I hope that these simple steps can help you avoid the hassle and pain that can follow an auto collision. Despite these precautions some of you will still be involved in a collision through no fault of your own. If you have been hurt in an auto collision then we are here to help you get better and get on with your life.