Techniques to Avoid Crashes

Most crashes are not inevitable. While some are beyond your control, you can do a lot to avoid, or at least reduce the effects of, many crashes. While a defensive driving program will teach you many useful techniques for avoiding accidents, a few of the most important methods are highlighted here.
Left turns at intersections: This is one of the major accident situations involving older drivers. That’s because there can be many elements demanding your attention, such as other cars, pedestrians, kids on bikes, or a changing light – and a driver who is trying torun it. Impaired depth perception and other vision changes can make this a treacherous situation. Exercise greater caution while making a left-hand turn or choose a route that avoids difficult turns.
Rollovers: These types of accidents are responsible for 33% of car fatalities. Of those killed in rollover crashes, nearly 75% were not wearing a safety belt. Vehicles that are narrow and taller, such as SUVs, pickup trucks and vans, have a greater likelihood of rolling over. This is another factor to consider when selecting a vehicle. Of course, always wear your safety belt and don’t speed.
Changing lanes: This type of accident is a major problem for adult drivers. As we age, we may have more difficulty turning our heads to look at cars approaching in an adjoining lane. Rear-view mirrors are important safety tools, but they’re not enough. Turn your head and look for approaching traffic in the lane into which you’ll be moving.
• Parking lots: It will be no surprise to anyone who has driven, even for a short period of time, that most parking lots are driving nightmares. Cars are backing up, often with the side views blocked by large vehicles, trucks or buildings; shoppers are hurrying to and fro without a glance left or right; and children newly released from the confines of their cars are running across driving lanes. The best advice:

– Park so that you can drive forward from your spot when it’s time to leave, if at all possible.
– Park farther away in the parking lot if you can, so you will have fewer cars and pedestrians to contend with as you depart.
– Drive very slowly in the lot and be prepared to stop quickly at every intersection, whether or not you have a stop sign.
– Watch for drivers who can’t be bothered driving in the established lanes, and who choose instead to follow their own direct route diagonally across the lot.
– Remember that you want to simply avoid an accident, not to show that you have – and intend to take – the right of way!

Cell phones and other electronic gadgets: Whether you’re talking on a cell phone, texting, using your laptop or any other device not related to driving, you will be distracted from the task at hand – safe driving. State traffic laws are beginning to catch up with the common use of electronic devices, often banning their use while driving. Pull over when you need to use any electronic device.
Dark, rainy nights: These driving situations are difficult at any age, and they’re especially dangerous for us as we age. By the time we reach our 40s and 50s, we have already noticed that our vision is less sharp on dark, rainy nights. Do your best to avoid driving in these conditions if you are uncomfortable. Now is the time to ask for a ride or, if possible, to put off the errand or visit until tomorrow.

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