Most of us rely on cars as our primary mode of transportation. These vehicles are fast, convenient, and relatively safe, but no matter how many technological improvements we make, car accidents are going to be a significant risk for all drivers and passengers inside them.

While some accidents are genuinely unavoidable, you can avoid the majority of accidents with greater awareness and safety prioritization.

Anticipating a Car Accident

Before we go any further, it’s important to recognize that some accidents truly are unavoidable, and you should be prepared to handle an accident safely and effectively.

  • Prepare a first-aid kit. Consider preparing or buying a first-aid kit that you can keep in the car. It may save someone’s life someday.
  • Wear a seatbelt and enable safety features. Take advantage of all the safety features that exist in your car. At minimum, you should wear a seatbelt at all times (and so should your passengers). Doing so can minimize the risk of injury and death.
  • Always have emergency communication options. Most people have a phone on them all the time these days, but it’s still worth mentioning that you should always have emergency communication options on hand. That means bringing a charging cable in case your phone battery is low.
  • Have a personal injury attorney you can call. After getting medical treatment, one of your biggest priorities after an accident will be contacting a personal injury lawyer. Your lawyer can help you understand your rights, negotiate with insurance companies, and sue for compensation for damages you’ve incurred.

Types of Car Accidents

There are a few main types of car accidents.

  1. Rear-endings. In a rear-ending car accident, one car crashes into the back of another. Oftentimes, this is because the offending driver wasn’t paying attention. After all, the offending driver was following too closely, or the driver in front slammed on the brakes very quickly.
  2. Head-on collisions. Head-on collisions occur when two cars drive directly into each other. They tend to be some of the most devastating accidents because of the combined speed. You can avoid these types of collisions by staying in your lane, avoiding wrong-direction travel on one-way roads, and remaining observant so you can get out of the way of other drivers when necessary.
  3. Side-impact collisions. Side-impact collisions (sometimes called “T-bone collisions”) occur when one car crashes into the side of another. They can be devastating for the people inside the vehicle, and most commonly happen due to errors made at intersections.
  4. Sideswipes. Sideswipes are generally less severe, and they occur when one car brushes up against the side of another. It often occurs in parked vehicles but can occur with the vehicles in motion as well.
  5. Fender benders. A “fender bender” is a colloquial term for any car accident that’s minor enough to be an inconvenience, rather than a real problem. They tend to occur at low speeds.

How to Avoid Car Accidents

These strategies can help you avoid most car accidents:

  • Remain rested, sober, and alert. You have to be in the right state of mind to drive safely. That means being rested, sober, and alert at all times. If you drink or become intoxicated, find another way home. If you’re tired, take a nap before trying to drive more.
  • Drive slower. Driving slower gives you more time to respond to unexpected developments in your vicinity, and it has the added bonus of reducing the severity of a collision, should one occur.
  • Obey all traffic laws and signs. Traffic laws and signs exist for a good reason: they guide us to safer driving behavior. It’s your responsibility to follow all laws and signs while driving, including the basics like using a turn signal before each turn.
  • Increase following distance. Increasing the distance between your car and the car in front of you gives you more time to react to their movements so you can avoid a potential collision. Experts recommend following the “3-second rule,” which you can estimate by glancing at an object that the car in front of you passes. Count how long it takes for your car to pass the same object; if it takes you three seconds or longer, you’re at an acceptable distance.
  • Watch other drivers closely. Most of the time, we can assume that other drivers will follow laws, science, and basic etiquette, but this isn’t always a guarantee. Always remain aware of your surroundings and watch other drivers closely so you can take evasive action if and when necessary.
  • Keep your car maintained. Finally, keep your car maintained. Any mechanical issue that turns up while the car is in motion could increase your risk of losing control of the vehicle. At least twice a year (with frequency changing based on how much you drive), take your car in for a tune-up and change the oil. If you detect any issues, take care of them before trying to drive your car again.

Even the safest drivers on the road have to be wary of other drivers, and we owe it to ourselves and our passengers to make our transportation as safe as possible. With a handful of simple strategies and a true commitment to safer driving, we’ll all be better off.