How to Avoid a Car Accident and What to Do if You’re In One
In the United States, over 32,000 deaths and 2.35 million injuries and disabilities are cause by car accidents every year. That’s a lot of suffering. Here are some basic, very easy tips to help you avoid being in a car accident. These are simple things we all need to make habitual no matter when or where we are driving.
6 Simple Tips to Avoid Car Accidents
- Check and Double Check Your Vehicle – I’m a private pilot, and before any flight, we’ve been taught to follow a check-list and inspect our airplane. Not a bad idea to follow this rule with automobiles as well. Before you even get in the car, look at your tires. With a quick visual inspection you can determine they have enough air in them, if they are bald or if they have any protruding objects stuck in them. Occasionally you can even tell if they are aligned properly or not. Next, with your key in the ignition – but before you start the engine – check to make sure there are no warning lights on. These alerts include warnings for gas, engine function, and coolant. Also make sure your turn signal lights and brake lights are in working order.
- Watch With Active Eyes – Not everyone on the road is a great driver and we have to compensate. Keep your eyes on the road but also keep watch on those behind you, next to you, and basically everything going on all around you. Always be checking your rear-view mirror, side mirrors, and blind spots. This is even more important when traveling through a green light, as not everyone always pays attention the way they should. Basically, what I’m saying is be aware and be conscientious.
- Stagger Yourself in Traffic – While keeping your eyes active, if you notice one or more cars driving alongside you for more than a few seconds, adjust your speed to stagger your position. Cars that travel side by side create traffic jams and limit “personal space” for safe travel. Always maintain the 3-second rule for personal space in normal driving conditions. If it’s raining or roads are otherwise not safe, increase that up to 10 seconds.
- Use Your Turn Signals – There’s a plethora of memes on social media about those sticks on the side of the steering column that go up and down and making clicking noises but no one seems to know what they are for. Those clicky sticks can save your life so use them. Signaling an upcoming lane change or turn – or even the need for one – lets other drivers nearby know you are moving. It is one of the easiest ways to prevent unnecessary accidents and it’s a great way to communicate with the drivers around you.
- Be Prepared to Give Way to Emergency Vehicles – I used to be a volunteer EMT on the Burlington Fire Department. Nothing was more annoying than cars not pulling over as we rushed a patient with lights and sirens to the emergency department. Peoples lives are at stake. The very first second you hear a siren or see flashing lights, gently slow your speed and pay attention to where the emergency vehicles are and what direction they are going. Keep in mind they sometimes need to go through red lights or into oncoming traffic, so always pull over or stop to let them go but do so carefully.
- Ditch Distractions – We have all heard the horror stories about lives lost due to texting and many areas have now made it illegal to text and drive. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth the risk. Don’t talk on the phone, don’t have your radio up so loud you can’t hear emergency vehicles, don’t argue with the kids in the backseat. There will be plenty of time for all that later.
What To Do if You Have a Car Accident
We are never expecting to be involved in a vehicular collision; thus the term “accident“. When it happens, emotions take over and we have trouble thinking straight. It’s important to keep a few things in mind though, even if it means printing this article out and keeping it in the glove box with your insurance card.
- Stay Put – No matter what appointment you’re on your way to or who needs to be dropped off at school, it’s absolutely imperative to not leave the scene. Not only is it illegal, it’s also potentially dangerous if you have sustained any injuries.
- Call the Authorities – Regardless of how minor the incident may seem at the time, always call the police. Don’t let involved parties talk you out of it either. Even if they tell you it’s pointless to call because they don’t have insurance, make the call. A record of the accident needs to be made. Without a paper trail there is zero chance of anyone getting help for their vehicle or injuries. If it seems like anyone might be hurt, call 911.
- Get Checked Out – It’s all too common to walk away from a car accident and ignore little aches and pains, telling ourselves we are just sore and in shock from what happened. Go to the doctor and make sure everything is okay. It’s far better to luck out and walk away from an accident with only needing a few visits to the chiropractor. If you wait and don’t get check out though you can end up with something far more serious down the road that requires surgery. If you’ve gone to the emergency department and they’ve told you you don’t have any fractures (broken bones) you should make an appointment with my office so we can thoroughly examine you and determine why you are having pain. Even if you’ve fractured your arm for example, once treated for that, you should get checked out by a chiropractor because any car accident severe enough to cause a bone to fracture will certainly cause a sprain or strain in your neck or back.
- Call Your Insurance Company – Yes, do this last. Wait until you have the police record of the accident. Wait until you have seen a doctor. The more information you have when you call to make your claim, the better. This will enable you to provide your insurance carrier with the information they need all at once as opposed to making multiple phone calls and giving out bits of detail piecemeal.
How Chiropractic Can Help
One of the most common injuries from being involved in a car accident is whiplash, which is caused by the sudden jarring movement of the head forward, backward, or sideways. Whiplash can cause severe head, neck, back or shoulder pain along with blurred vision, dizziness, neck stiffness, and limited range of motion in the neck.
If you are involved in an accident, it’s imperative you get checked out immediately. Untreated whiplash can cause lifelong problems and pain that only worsen in time. You might not feel any pain the day of, after, or even a week later – one of the reasons whiplash is such a serious condition. It can sometimes take months to feel the effects of such injuries but if you are diagnosed at the time of the accident, chiropractic care can nip it in the bud and save you from having unnecessary pain and neck problems for the rest of your life.