Driving is by far the most dangerous thing the average person does. Thanks to a comfortable interior and advanced car design that insulates the driver from outside sounds and vibration, most people feel safe and secure when they drive. Statistics show that this feeling is unfounded because of the thousands of fatalities that occur on U.S. roads every year. Much has been written about avoiding accidents but what can you do to avoid serious injury should you ever get into an accident?
Avoid driving faster than the posted speed limit. Besides being against the law, speeding increases the destructive energy of a crash. Doubling your speed quadruples the energy that damages your car and you. Your risk of serious injury goes down when you drive slower.
Wear Your Seat Belt
Your seat belt keeps you in your seat where you belong. Your seat belt in combination with the car’s airbags prevents head injury in an accident. Another advantage to being kept in the driver’s seat is that you can drive through an accident despite the extreme motions that occur.
Adjust Your Seat and Headrest Properly
Adjust your seat so that there is 10 to 12 inches of clearance between you and the steering wheel. The tilt of the back of your seat should be adjusted so that your shoulders are slightly behind your waist. Adjust the headrest so that the back of your head is level with the middle of the cushion. These adjustments will maximize the effectiveness of your airbag and prevent whiplash and neck injury.
Keep Up With Car Maintenance
Poor brakes, steering, and worn or under inflated tires compromise your ability to rapidly slow down and effectively steer your car prior to an accident. A car in good condition can help you avoid or greatly decrease the consequences of an accident.
Store Away Loose Objects in Your Car
Place loose objects in the glove compartment or in the trunk to prevent them from becoming lethal projectiles.
Get a Car With a Good Safety Record
The structure of your car as well as its protective devices and technology are the only things protecting you from the violence of an accident. The better your car, the better your chances of surviving an accident intact and unhurt.
Driving Actions Prior to an Accident
Prior to an accident, you will have to decide on what steering, braking, or acceleration actions are required to avoid or minimize the accident. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure rather than pumping the brakes. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, then you should pump the brakes. Stomping hard on the brake pedal will cause the car to skid and skidding wheels have little braking effect.
Avoid extreme steering motions. At high speeds these can cause a car to spin out of control. Large vehicles such as vans and pickup trucks are especially prone to this. If you get into a skid, steer into the direction of the skid. When steering through an accident try to avoid head-on collisions with oncoming traffic as well as unyielding objects such as solid rock, concrete walls, and large trees.