Cars account for approximately 80% of all traffic on UK roads, so, unsurprisingly, car drivers and their passengers account for most road accident casualties each year, too.
Government figures reveal that there were around 89,000 car accident casualties in the last reported year. These figures covered all severities of injury – from fatalities to minor bumps and bruises.
There's nothing we can do about others' driving standards, but we can control our own. Here are our 5 top tips on how not to be the cause of a car accident.
1. Slow down.
That means keeping within the speed limit of the road on which we are travelling. That should be obvious. Maybe so, but according to research from the Department for Transport, nearly half of all car drivers exceed the speed limit each year. The slower roads tend to attract more speeding car drivers than motorways do.
It isn't just a matter of obeying the law, thereby avoiding the risk of getting points on your licence and a fine. It's a proven fact that cutting your speed by an average of 1mph is enough to reduce the likelihood of having a crash by 5%.
Easing off on the throttle is probably the one thing that, as car drivers, we can all do that together would have an immediate and tangible impact on road safety.
2. Put away your mobile phone
Using a mobile phone whilst driving deserves a section of its own. Despite it being illegal even to hold a phone whilst driving (or riding a motorcycle), people are still doing it. You can see evidence of it every day if you stand on the pavement of a busy road and watch as vehicles pass by.
A survey of 2000 motorists saw 21% of those interviewed admitting that they checked their phone for messages whilst driving, with a further 14% saying that they answered calls whilst on the move.
Mobile phone use in a car, other than through a hands-free device, is a distraction from driving safely. It entails driving with one hand on the steering wheel or adopting an unnatural driving position whilst lodging the phone between shoulder and face. Either way, the potential for not being able to control the vehicle properly is self-evident. Road safety charity RoSPA's Head of Road Safety has said that drivers using mobile phones whilst driving, as much as four times more likely to crash.
The message is simple: if your phone isn't hands-free, switch it off and put it away before taking a road trip.
3. Keep your car in working order
It's easy to forget to keep up simple car maintenance, but often it's neglecting the small stuff that can be the cause of a car accident. All of the following may cause or contribute to causing road traffic accidents:
- Bald tyres
- Reduced tyre pressures
- Worn brakes
- Vehicle lights not working
- Cracked windscreens
- Defective indicators
According to Department of Transport figures, defective brakes alone contributed to 3,894 crashes in the six years between 2013 and 2018.
Basic checks and regular servicing will ensure that your vehicle's condition does not become the cause of an RTA.
4. Keep your distance
The most common type of car accident is the rear-end collision. Invariably, in such accidents, the crash is caused by the offending driver failing to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead of them.
Rear-end collisions are usually totally avoidable. The occupants of a vehicle hit from the rear will often suffer whiplash injuries.
Keep a safe distance and drive at a reasonable speed, taking into account all the prevailing road conditions.
5. Don't drive when you are tired
It's believed that 75% of adults in the UK get less than seven hours of sleep each night, whereas the recommended amount is eight hours. Driving when you are tired can impair your judgement and decision making. RoSPA estimates that as many as one in five road traffic accidents may be caused by or contributed to by the driver being tired.
Driver fatigue needs guarding against, in particular, if you are planning to take an early morning road trip. If necessary, compensate by getting to bed proportionately earlier so that you can still get sufficient hours of sleep.
What if you get injured in a car accident caused by another driver?
Being injured in a car accident is no laughing matter. Whether you sustain a whiplash injury or something more serious, you may wish to consider making a car accident claim against the careless driver that caused your injuries. Car accident claims can also include a claim for any financial losses you suffer, including loss of earnings and perhaps even vehicle damage.
It's essential to ensure that you seek out the services of a specialist, No Win, No Fee, car accident compensation claims, solicitor to help you make a successful claim against the insurers of the driver who caused the accident.
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© Carol Trehearn 2021