There’s no denying that our Texas roads are inherently dangerous. In 2018 alone, the Texas Department of Transportation recorded 12,186 serious injury crashes, 14,937 serious injuries, and 3,652 traffic fatalities. And the sad reality is that most of these accidents happened in Houston, Dallas, and Corpus Christi.
This chilling reality means that you have to drive defensively at all times. That is, drive with caution and identify what other drivers and road users around are doing so you can anticipate their next moves. If you’re a new driver and are not sure what defensive driving entails, below are five actionable tips to help you get started.
Tip 1: Focus on the task at hand
Regrettably, many of us have a dangerous habit of using our phones while driving, distracting us from our primary task of driving the vehicle safely. Other distractions include listening to loud music in the car, as well as paying too much attention to our conversations or even arguments with passengers in the car. While nothing might seem wrong with these, you need to avoid any engrossing secondary activities that require you to divert your attention from the task at hand.
Distraction is such a bad driving habit that it accounts for nearly 3,000 deaths every year in the United States. Therefore, if you have to send a message, answer or make a phone call, you should only do it when the vehicle is parked in a safe location. Doing so will help minimize the chances of causing or getting involved in an accident.
Tip 2: Avoid presumptions on the road
Confusion is another known cause of road accidents. Think of how many times you’ve seen an oncoming car with its turn signal flashing, only to ultimately speed past you. In other words, just because the car approaching you has its turn signal blinking, it does not mean it will actually turn in that direction. Never presume a driver’s next moves; a distracted driver might not even be aware that their turning signal is on. A good rule of thumb is to wait until you see the vehicle engaging in turning and always avoid presumptions while on the road.
Tip 3: Pay attention to your surroundings
While presumptions can have disastrous results, this is different from having road awareness. While on the road, it’s always a good idea to anticipate what might just happen. For example, when driving by a pub on a Saturday evening, expect drunkards to make irrational decisions when using the road. If you fail to keep aware of the environment on the road, you might fail to see these drunk drivers until it’s too late. Paying attention to the time of day (e.g. rush hour or happy hour times), the day of the week (Friday or Saturday night), and other factors that influence road circumstances will help you reduce your speed and be steady with the brake pedal so you will be able to prevent a possible accident and protect yourself from the adverse consequences of a crash.
Tip 4: Observe all traffic signs and rules
When you are new on the road, it’s easy to miss traffic signs or misunderstand more complicated regulations (e.g. roundabouts) besides the basic tri-color street lights. Common mistakes can include missing warnings that indicate an upcoming bump in the road, speeding way above the designated speed limit, or driving the wrong way down a one-way street. The good news is that you can avoid all these (and the possible traffic citations) only if you pay close attention to all road rules.
Tempting as it can be as a new and nervous driver, you should never violate a traffic rule just to follow what the driver in front is doing. After all, he or she could be breaking the rules on purpose, and if you emulate their actions, so will you. Get familiar with your neighborhood or area’s road rules and traffic signage, and ensure that you observe all traffic regulations at all times. One wrong turn could result in a traffic citation or a really bad crash.
Tip 5: Don’t get involved in road rage
Road rage is increasingly common on our Texas roads, often with serious consequences. This is why you should never allow yourself to get embroiled in another driver’s anger. Ignore obscene gestures, lay off the horn, and don’t take an angry driver’s aggression personally. If you’re caught up in a brawl or the other driver confronts you, stay calm. However, if things get out of control and you feel threatened, there’s no shame in driving away to a safe place and alerting authorities of the dangerously enraged driver.
When defensive driving fails, call a Corpus Christi car accident lawyer
While defensive driving can help prevent a road crash, it doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of an accident. Sometimes accidents happen when least expected, involving even the most experienced drivers. Fortunately, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries, especially if another party’s negligence or fault caused the accident. If you have been injured in a car accident and you believe another person or entity is to blame, talk to an experienced Corpus Christi car accident attorney to learn whether you are eligible to collect compensation for your injuries.