There can be little doubt that most of the UK population would be simply lost without the family car. Whether it’s needed for the daily school run, to get to and from work or simply transport the weekly shopping back home, cars are increasingly relied upon and can result in a massive inconvenience should anything go wrong.
What’s more, according to the Department for Transport, traffic levels rose by almost 2% during 2015, with much of this increase being attributable to an increase in light goods vehicles. This is quite possibly due to a definite increase in online shopping, thus necessitating a greater demand for smaller vans in order to facilitate home deliveries, often at a specified time.
So, with more and more traffic on our roads, what are the best ways of avoiding a car accident and ultimately, staying safe? In this article, we take a look at how to reduce the chances of being involved in a car accident.
What factors contribute towards road accidents?
There are numerous reasons why accidents happen on our roads and among the most common causes are bad weather, drink driving, driver distraction, vehicle faults and driver error. Of course, the vast majority of accidents could easily be avoided (particularly with regard to obvious factors such as driver distraction and drink driving). Unfortunately, however – and despite various road campaigns led by charitable organisations such as “Brake” they still continue to clock up unwelcome statistics in terms of both casualties and fatalities.
So how can I reduce the chances of being involved in a car accident?
There are numerous ways within which drivers can substantially reduce the chances of being involved in a car accident and here are just a few prime examples:
- If you’re planning to spend an evening with friends – and might consider having just “one” drink – then never be tempted to take the car. It really isn’t worth the risk. Whilst the UK is still much more flexible with regards to the drink driving limit compared to that of other countries, even just “one” drink can quickly put you over the legal limit for driving, and the consequences of this can be truly devastating. According to “Brake”, drink driving is still one of the biggest killers on our roads and in 2014, it’s estimated that 13% of all road deaths across the UK resulted from crashes where at least one driver was over the legal drink driving limit.
- As soon as you get into your car with the intention of driving then ensure that you fully focus on what you’re doing. Whilst this might sound fairly obvious, you’d probably be surprised at the nature of the many distractions which present themselves to drivers whilst behind the wheel – even to the extent of listening to loud music, which research has already proven can have an adverse effect on a driver’s concentration level. The same applies when it comes to other internal distractions, such as re-setting a sat nav system, changing a radio station and even talking to other passengers or young children – particularly those who might be travelling in the back seats, since this tends to encourage the driver to turn round and communicate eye-to-eye physically.
- Speed is another major factor when it comes to common causes of car accidents and again, can often happen when the driver is simply running late – perhaps for a meeting, picking the children up from school and so on. However, not only does this significantly increase the chances of having an accident but can also lead to 3 penalty points being endorsed on your licence, together with a minimum fine of £100.00. Put simply, no journey is worth risking either consequence.
- In addition to paying attention to the road, another good way to reduce your chances of being involved in an accident is to have the most reliable car you can possibly budget for – ideally fitted with extra safety features, such as front collision mitigation, lane-departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and so on. Of course, the various options will vary quite significantly between each car manufacturer, but there are certainly a whole host of safety features to help protect both you and your family whilst travelling by car.
- If you’re looking to improve your own driving skills, then you might want to consider having either a black box or dash-cam fitted – and there are two good reasons in favour of both!With regard to the black box, this will actively monitor your day-to-day driving habits and highlight any areas for improvement – such as your braking distances and speeding tendencies. What’s more, most insurance companies will also offer a considerable reduction of your policy if you allow them access to this information since it ultimately proves that you’re a much safer and conscientious driver.With regard to the dash-cam, whilst these obviously can’t prevent accidents from happening in their own right, they have been proven to lead to safer driving habits so are certainly something to be considered. What’s more, the obvious bonus is that they’ll also record any accidents which might occur (including attempted theft of your vehicle) and again can often lead to a good reduction on your insurance premiums.
- According to the RAC Foundation, extra care should be taken whilst driving on country roads since 60% of all fatalities occur on these, with a third of them (during 2014) taking place on a bend. Whilst many motorists might expect the most dangerous road type to be the motorway (particularly given the increased speeds involved), country roads have been found to harbour numerous hazards such as slow-moving farm machinery, fallen trees, cattle crossing the roads, horse riders and blind bends. Consequently, whilst there might well be a temptation to put your foot down and enjoy the scenery, the statistics say you should do anything but.
- The RAC Foundation has also highlighted the fact that 1 in 3 of car accidents involve a vehicle being driven for work and in fact, every week, around 200 deaths and serious injuries involve someone who’s driving as part of their employment. Unfortunately, for those who need to drive as part of their job, then the chances of being involved in an accident are statistically higher, and therefore greater attention should be paid whilst out on the roads.
- Finally, another good way of reducing your level of risk whilst driving is to take the time to educate yourself. This can be done in various ways, whether through online learning, reading some of the many official publications available or even taking an advanced driving test – all of which will undoubtedly assist in terms of education and increase your level of awareness whilst you’re out and about.
As we’ve discovered then, there are various ways you can help reduce the chances of being involved in an accident and most of these are simply down to applying a bit of common sense. Of course, you can never entirely predict the actions of other road users, but by reducing your own exposure to risk, you can certainly help to drive the current statistics down to a much more acceptable level.
If you’re looking to educate yourself more in terms of road safety, then remember that most insurance companies will offer a discount on your policy if you take any type of advanced driving test so, in addition to staying safer on the roads, you’ll also help your bank balance too!