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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Defensive Driving to Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s) - Part 2

Defensive Driving to Avoid Motor Vehicle Accidents (MVA’s) - Part 2
By: Mark A. Doughty, Esq. www.GoLaw.com  

About the author: Mark A. Doughty has practiced personal injury and auto collision law in the Northern California Sacramento Valley since 1980. LIKE us online at http://facebook.com/DoughtyLaw or FOLLOW us at http://twitter.com/DoughtyLaw  

Driving Defensively: Driving techniques to avoid accidents and fines (Part 2)

Driving defensively is an important part of safety when it comes to road travel. Read Part 1 of the BLOG from last month here. Part 2 continues below:

Although travelers worry mostly about crime, inadequate driving skills pose the greatest danger while traveling on the road. North American traffic conditions dictate driving must be taken seriously. These tips can save your life!

1. Eye Movement. Be like pilots who are taught to Scan Constantly. Scan the road then rear mirror, then the road then side mirrors. Do not fix your eyes on any one point. Instead, your eyes should be constantly moving up and down the road, to the sides, and… SCAN.

2. Avoid last minute braking, read the brake lights 3-4 cars ahead.

3. Always leave yourself an out. At all times, try to place your vehicle where your safety is not determined by other drivers. You want to be in control of your safety on the road. This means you need a place to head if danger appears. When driving, this is called looking for "space cushions," places where you can go in order to avoid collisions. When you have a space cushion, you have already avoided an accident.

 4. If you must pass another car, do not linger next to another vehicle. You should rush to its front as soon as safely possible; especially when passing large trucks or busses. You do not want to follow too closely, especially if you cannot move to the right or left if the car in front of you slows suddenly. It is fascinating (and frightening) to observe the behavior of drivers on multi-lane highways as tend to bunch up and travel in packs. Therefore, avoid the packs. Don't be part of the herd. Hang back. Or, if you want to pass, rush ahead of the group of vehicles as soon as possible, without going so fast that you get a ticket in the process.

5. Make sure the other driver sees you, and never assume another driver will do something unless you are certain he or she will do so. On freeways—where improper lane changes are one of the most frequent causes of serious accidents—and on two-lane roads, where vehicles going the other direction are frequently passing slower vehicles—USE YOUR HEADLIGHTS. Yes, turn your lights on. This helps other drivers notice you. In fact, you may want to use your headlights in nearly all driving situations, as do many professional drivers. In some areas, especially in Canada, this is the law. Rain and fog, too, are a time for headlights, as well as twilight. Some drivers have a very ignorant and limited view of the role of headlights or a misguided desire to conserve power, as they delay turning on car lights in the evening as long as possible. "I can see just fine!" they foolishly say. But, how well others can see them is also vitally important! Twilight is the time of most accidents. Drivers are tired after a day of activity. Some have stopped for an after work drink (or two or three) and have impaired focus. Others, anxious to get home, rush too quickly. Help these people to see you and to avoid you. Be among the last to turn off lights in the morning and among the first to turn them on in the evening—if not driving with lights on all the time. If another driver does not seem to have noticed you, and it looks as if he might hit you, blinking the headlights may help avoid an accident. And, moving the right foot off the accelerator to be ready to brake will speed reaction time, if your best reaction is not rushing ahead to avoid collision. You should be particularly careful at intersections when a driver approaching from a side road or already stopped at a stop sign does not seem to be looking right or left for other traffic as you approach. The horn, by the way, is nearly useless in most driving situations as other drivers are usually too far away to hear you or their music systems are too loud.

6. Rear end collisions can be prevented or made less serious. If you do not have time to rush ahead, repeatedly lightly (so as to not slow down) step on the brake pedal when another vehicle approaches too rapidly from behind. This causes your rear red lights to blink in warning. Do this over and over, when you suspect a car coming from behind may not have noticed you. The great danger, as mentioned above, are drivers who do not look far down the road as they drive. They miss seeing slower or stopped vehicles ahead of them until the last moment. Blinking the brake lights should attract attention of these faulty drivers, and allow them time to stop, or at least decease the impacts of the collisions.

7. Use your turn signals early and often. Using turn signals, too, lessens the chance of accidents. Turn signals attract the attention of other drivers. All too often, you see signals turned on at the same time as turns or lane changes are initiated, which is not safe (or legal) driving. Making a decision at the last moment shows clearly that a driver has not been paying attention. He or she is not driving defensively. These drivers are far more likely to injure themselves and others. Using signals is far more than a courtesy; it is a key safety technique.

8. Maintain average traffic speed on freeways. A vehicle going slower than other traffic sets up too many opportunities for collisions on high-speed highways. If a more relaxed driving pace is desired, use another type of road. NO Stopping on freeways. Don't be a stationary object or semi-stationary obstacle on a freeway. Few things are more dangerous than when a car stops at the end of an entrance ramp because the driver misjudged the opportunities to enter traffic—or was just too timid. If your car breaks down on the road…pull as far to the right as possible, put the hood up to alert drivers and move all occupants to a safe position. Drivers often plow into the rear of cars parked along highways!

9. Respect the weather. Readers from cold areas know the importance of caution in icy or snowy conditions. The first rains of the season make the road very slick.

10. Stay Alert! Remember that your reaction time and driving skills deteriorate when tired or older. The old adage that ample rest is the basis of dynamic, successful activity applies to driving as well as to every area of life. Driving without having had sufficient sleep is just as dangerous as driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Summary: In summary, use common sense. Pay attention when driving. Look out for the other cars, be prepared and let the other driver win…That makes you the WINNER because you avoid accidents and injuries and you ARRIVE ALIVE!  

Sources: http://www.roadtripamerica.com/DefensiveDriving/Rule04.htm
some direct quotes from http://Yahoo.com

This BLOG was Prepared for you by Mark A. Doughty, attorney-at-law who practices solely in the area of injury and accidents including motor vehicle accidents, motorcycles, trucks, vicious animal attacks and slip and fall cases. You may contact Mr. Doughty by visiting his website at http://www.GoLaw.com or call 530-674-1440