Tips for Making 2019 Your Safest Driving Year Ever
Posted in Car Accident on March 16, 2019
In late 2018, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced that the number of highway fatalities decreased in the previous year after a two-year increase during the previous years. However, 37,133 people were killed in motor vehicle accidents in 2017. The NHTSA says that safety it its number one priority, and that’s why it’s investing in safety awareness and enforcement campaigns like “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different” and “Driver Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
At Matt Hardin Law, our Nashville auto accident attorneys know that the top causes of driver error-related crashes, including speeding, driving under the influence, and distracted driving remain significant concerns for all motorists as 2019 gets underway. The Tennessee Highway Patrol, Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, and the Metro Nashville Police Department all work hand-in-hand to keep highways and interstates in Middle Tennessee safe for drivers, but it’s up to drivers themselves to do their parts when they get behind the wheel.
Our law firm is dedicated to assisting people after they’ve been injured in auto accidents, but even the best outcomes can’t replace avoiding an accident in the first place. To stay safe during 2019 and beyond, prioritize the safety of yourself, your loved ones, and other drivers by focusing on these safe driving habits:
- Move over when approaching stopped emergency vehicles—Tennessee’s Move Over Law has been on the books since 2006, but it has been expanded twice since it was originally drafted into law. The law originally applied only to stopped emergency vehicles with flashing lights, but it was expanded in 2011 to include stopped utility vehicles. The most recent expansion occurred in 2017, and it included the protection of drivers in any vehicles who stop on the side of the road with their flashing lights activated.
- Avoid using your phone while you’re behind the wheel—Texting and driving is a dangerous epidemic that’s causing more and more accidents every year. Talking on the phone can also be distracting enough to result in a crash, even if you keep your eyes on the road. Studies show that any form of distraction is dangerous, including hands-free operation of cell phones. To decrease your risks of Tennessee’s roadways, use your phone before and after you drive. If you need to make or receive a call or read a text message while you’re driving, pull over to a safe location first.
- Be cautious when driving through school zones and work areas—There are two places on the road where you need to be extra cautious—school zones and work areas. Both frequently contain pedestrians, and both often have significantly reduced speed limits. In school zones, it’s important to remember that crossing guards dictate the right of way—not traffic lights or stop signs. And in construction zones, lanes can suddenly shift or end, and workers may be present and dictating the flow of traffic or even blocking lanes to temporarily stop traffic.
- Arrange alternate transportation if you plan on drinking—Driving under the influence accounts for nearly 30 percent of all traffic accident-related deaths in the U.S. Because alcohol affects things like coordination, judgment, and reaction times, it causes intoxicated drivers to have a significantly higher risk of being involved in crashes than sober drivers. If you consume alcohol, it’s important to have an alternative method of transportation on hand. Whether it’s using a ridesharing service, calling a cab, using public transportation, or relying on a designated driver, any safe and sober way of getting home can save your life and the lives of others.
- Adjust your driving habits accordingly during inclement weather or at night—A significant risk factor for crashes is driving when roads are slick and when visibility is reduced. Whether it’s rain, snow, or ice, anything that accumulates on the surface of the road and reduces friction can increase your risk of losing control of your vehicle. In addition, driving at night, during heavy downpours, or when there’s a thick layer of fog can reduce visibility and make it more difficult to see what’s in front of you. When inclement weather strikes or when visibility is reduced, turn on your lights, slow down, and be extra cautious. If conditions deteriorate due to severe weather, pull over to a safe location and wait for the weather to clear up.
- Avoid big truck “No Zones”—If you commute on Nashville’s highways and interstates frequently, you likely drive near big trucks on a regular basis. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers pose huge risks for drivers of even the largest passenger vehicles. The trucking industry is heavily regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, but it’s important for the drivers of passenger vehicles to drive safely around them to further reduce the risks of being involved in an accident. The best way to do that is to avoid the four “No Zones” near big trucks. Those zones include the areas underneath the driver and passenger side doors, as well as the areas directly in front of and behind trucks.
- Increase your following distance—Whether you’re driving in heavy traffic or on a lightly trafficked interstate, one of the best ways to reduce your risks of being involved in a crash is to simply increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. Many accidents are caused by drivers following other vehicles too closely and being unable to slow down or stop in time to prevent a collision. Counting off three seconds between the time the vehicle in front of you passes a landmark and the time you pass it is a good rule of thumb to create a safe following distance. During inclement weather, increasing that rule of thumb to four seconds can further improve your safety.
- Make sure everyone is properly secured in your vehicle—Even the safest and most cautious drivers are still at risk of being involved in accidents. That’s why it’s so important to do everything you can to reduce the risk of injuries in the event of a crash. There’s no safety feature more effective at reducing the risk of death and decreasing the severity of injuries than the seat belt. Always buckle up and make sure your passengers use their seat belts, regardless of trip distance or the speed you’ll be driving at. In addition, make sure small children are properly secured with age-appropriate restraints, such as infant car seats for newborns and booster seats for older children.
- Be on the lookout for pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists—Not everyone who uses Tennessee’s roadways travels on four wheels. When you’re driving, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter people walking, biking, or riding motorcycles. It’s important to give them the same consideration, respect, and space that you give anyone else on the road. That means allowing pedestrians to cross at crosswalks when they have the right of way, never intruding on bike lanes, and looking both ways before turning in case a motorcyclist is approaching your location.
In 2018, the NHTSA reported that Tennessee ranked 9th in the nation for most fatal motor vehicle crashes. To make the state a safer place to live and drive, it’s up to everyone to do their part when it comes to following safe driving practices. The tips above can go a long way towards reducing the risks of accidents and injuries.
We’re Here to Help if You Get Hurt in a Crash
Unfortunately, most auto accidents involve two or more vehicles. And in many cases, at least one of the drivers involved in a crash was negligent. That means that they may have been speeding, driving while impaired, driving while distracted, or engaging in reckless behavior.
When that happens, victims deserve a chance to get compensated for their accident-related expenses. At Matt Hardin Law, we’re here to help innocent victims get the money they deserve after crashes that weren’t their fault.
If you or someone you love was injured in a crash, call us today for a free consultation at (615) 200-1111 or by submitting an online consultation form.