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The National Highway Traffic Administration estimates there is a road traffic accident every 60 seconds. Click here to learn how you can protect yourself.

How to Protect Yourself on the Roads as a Driver

The last thing you do as a driver — or at least if you’re a veteran driver — is that you’re going to be involved in an accident. You might think about the impending doom that is rush hour traffic, the fact your car could do with a good clean, or perhaps that you need to make yet another trip to the gas station. Yet, the statistics show that, alarmingly, there’s an accident every 60 seconds on the roads in the US.

Below, we will explore the most common causes of collisions and ways you can protect yourself as a driver on modern-day roads.

Common Causes Of Road Traffic Accidents

When we think about a road traffic accident, we picture total carnage. A road traffic accident doesn’t have to be a major collision. Bumping into someone at slow cruising speeds is a road traffic accident. In fact, it’s much easier to be involved in a slow-moving road traffic accident because those are the times when drivers pay less attention. 

Any driver will know that, for example, your attention is not 100% on the roads when sitting in a traffic jam. However, when moving at high speeds down the motorway, the focus is more likely to be closer to that 100%. Logic suggests that, although high-speed collisions are obviously far more serious, slow-moving accidents are more common. 

Interestingly, the National Highway Traffic Safety Institute found in 2019 that front impact car collisions are the most common, amounting to 2.8 million a year, and rear-end collisions come in second with 1.57 million a year. 

Those are two of the most common causes of collisions; here are the most common reasons behind those types of accidents:

  • Distractions – that could be cell phones, car passengers, road works, etc.
  • Speeding
  • Ignoring road signs
  • Driving under the influence
  • Incorrect turning maneuvers

By far, distractions are the most common reason behind any collision. You could even class singing and dancing to your favorite tunes as a distraction. And, if it isn’t you that’s not focused, you’re at the mercy of other drivers on the road and their driving habits. 

Your First Port of Call – Insurance 

Road traffic collisions are so common that one study found that the chances of being involved in an accident are one in 366 per 1,000 miles driven. Obviously, the more miles you’re racking up, the higher the potential for a collision. The first port of call when involved in a road traffic incident where injury occurs, medical attention is required or emergency services input or damage is caused  that requires repairs, you’re also going to rely on your insurance.

Even though your insurance isn’t covered by the various states in the US, the state you live in dictates the type of insurance policy you need. Most states require drivers to have a no-fault policy. A no-fault policy means drivers have to claim for injury and medical expenses with their own insurance provider – no matter who was at fault. You can look at a list of no fault states to check what your state dictates. 

Bear in mind; this wouldn’t cover damage to the vehicle. The at-fault driver has to claim on their insurance for that. Remember, not every accident involves injury – at least not to humans anyway. You’d be lucky to walk away from an accident without a scrape on the car.

What You Can Do To Be Safer On The Roads

Safety on the roads is paramount. There’s no denying that the roads are busier than they have ever been, perhaps the reason why there are more road traffic accidents than ever before. As a driver, you either contribute to the risk or are unlucky enough to get caught up in an accident that wasn’t your fault.

The first and perhaps only way to be safer on the roads is to look at your own driving habits. If you speed around and weave in and out of traffic because you’re late for work each morning, you’re part of the risk. If you take phone calls without going hands-free, you’re also part of the risk. If you drive like you did when you were learning to take your test, you won’t be part of the risk. 

We all know how to drive correctly because we all had to learn before we got a license. YouTube videos, online articles, and even refresher driving courses can jog your memory if you feel like you’ve picked up a bad driving habit or two along the way. There are other things you can do to mitigate the risk of being involved in an accident. Don’t drive during rush hour, use proper driving techniques, follow routes you know, and minimize distractions in the car.

What To Do If You’re Involved In An Accident

The first thing you should do when involved in an accident is to stay calm. Naturally, you will experience an adrenaline rush that might cloud your mind. Before you get out of the car, take a deep breath or two, count to ten, and restore a sense of calm. Then check out the damage. You might find there isn’t any, or you might find there’s slight bodywork damage that you’ll have to contact your insurance to fix.

Serious road traffic collisions will involve the presence of emergency services who can guide you on what the next steps are in terms of medical treatment — if you should need any — and who has to contact their insurance for what. Always have your proof of insurance card to speed up the process.

Hopefully, you’ll never be involved in a road traffic accident. Most drivers will get in the car and complete their journey without a hitch. But if ever an accident should happen, you should be armed with the necessary steps to take.

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