Driving Tips Everyone Should Know - Part 2

Last month, we shared ten driving tips that everyone should know. In this blog post, our Santa Clarita car accident attorney Robert J. Kaiser shares ten more tips that will help you become a safer, better driver.

11. Flash Floods

Flash floods in burn areas in and around Santa Clarita are a hazard. You can be driving in a light rain when the skies suddenly darken, and the rain becomes a torrential downpour. In an instant, you notice there is water rising around the car. Do you know what to do?

Your best course of action:

  • Pull over slowly and stop. Never try to drive through pools of water on the road. They may be deeper than they appear.

Highway Hint

If the water is rising, get out of the car and seek higher ground. Most cars will float for a short period, but they can quickly and easily be swept away by rising floodwaters—with you trapped inside.

12. Motorcycles

All too often motorists aren't aware of motorcycles on the roadway. In fact, the failure to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the main cause of motorcycle accidents with other vehicles. All too often these motorcycle and auto accidents result in serious personal injury. Here are some tips on sharing the road with motorcycles.

If you ride a motorcycle:

  • Make sure other drivers see you. Always keep your headlights on—even during the day. It will help make you more visible. At least twenty-two states require that motorcyclists operate with their headlights on during the day. One of the best things you can do is make sure other drivers see you. Stay out of blind spots—especially around trucks and other large vehicles. Just because you think other drivers see you doesn't mean they do. Wearing bright clothes during the day and reflective material at night also helps.

If you drive a car:

  • Remember to share the road and watch out for motorcycles. A motorcycle's small size makes it more difficult to spot in traffic, so motorists must aggressively and consciously look for motorcycles in changing traffic conditions. Not tailgating or riding too closely to motorcycles will help you share the road more safely.

Highway Hint

If you're behind a motorcycle, follow at the same interval that you would another car—at least two seconds, or better yet three seconds, on dry pavement.

13. Avoiding Collisions

Bad weather, mechanical failure of a vehicle, and poorly maintained roadways all may contribute to collisions. But do you know the number one cause of auto accidents?

More collisions can be attributed to driver error than any other factor. Driver error includes many factors like excessive speed, improper evasive action, and driver inattention or distraction. The tragedy is that nearly all collisions caused by driver error could have been prevented.

Highway Hints

To keep driver error to a minimum:

  • Avoid taking your eyes off the road to check your cell phone, adjust your radio or air-conditioning/heating, or to talk to passengers. Distractions are a major cause of traffic injuries and deaths.
  • Pull onto the shoulder if you need to check a text or read a road map.
  • Remain a safe distance from the car in front of you and allow plenty of room for changing lanes.

14. Airbags

Airbags supplement safety belts and are designed to inflate in moderate and severe frontal or near frontal auto accidents. When used in combination with safety belts, air bags further reduce the risk of fatality in frontal or near frontal crashes.

Do you know if your car is equipped with airbags? Check your owner’s manual to make sure. Often there is a warning label on the sun visor and/or the front of the right door frame.

Airbags do not deploy when:

  • You are rear-ended by another car or hit on the side (unless the vehicle is equipped with side airbags).
  • You misjudge your stopping distance and run into a stopped car at up to 10 to 15 mph.

About airbag deployment:

  • When airbags deploy, they inflate at speeds up to 200 mph.
  • Upon deployment, they release a white powdery substance—usually talcum powder or corn starch—which is used in packing the airbags. Understanding this may help avoid adding unnecessary concern to an already scary situation.
  • With or without airbags, the safest place for kids is in the back seat, correctly restrained.

Highway Hint

Remember that it's critical to always wear a safety belt, even if you have a car that is equipped with an air bag. Safety belts provide the maximum protection in all types of crashes, not just head-on crashes. All states have laws requiring children to use child restraints. At least 45 states and the District of Columbia have laws to "Buckle Up."

15. School Bus Safety

Traveling on a four-lane undivided road, you see a school bus approaching from the opposite direction. As you get a bit closer, you notice it is stopped and its red lights are flashing. Do you know when to stop for a school bus?

To obey the law and make sure that school children remain safe:

  • Come to a complete stop and wait to move until the lights stop flashing or the bus is moving. You should expect pedestrians in the roadway.

Highway Hint

If you are on a divided road, you still must stop if the bus is on your side of the road. It's not necessary to stop if the school bus is across the median in the opposite lanes. However, you should still be careful when there are children around—there could be children you can't see getting off the bus and walking around its blind side.

16. Center-Lane Safety

You're pulling out of a business driveway and want to make a left turn onto a busy street. The road has a special center lane designated for making turns. It is important for you to understand how to use this center turning lane.

To ensure center-lane safety:

  • After the traffic in the lanes nearest you clears, enter the center lane and wait for traffic to clear in the far lane. Once you are in the center lane, turn on your right-hand turn signal.
  • Do not drive in the "shared left-turn lane." It's neither legal nor safe. Auto accidents occur frequently when drivers are not paying close attention to traffic in these areas.

Highway Hint

As you merge, watch out for vehicles entering the special turning lane in front of you as well as behind you.

17. Using Your Turn Signal

Always use your turn signal when changing lanes—even if you're in the right turn only lane and you think it should be obvious that your intention is to turn. Car accidents are frequently caused by drivers failing to give proper and timely signals.

When you use your signal every time you change lanes:

  • Your intentions will be clear to everyone. This includes pedestrians as well as motorists.
  • You'll keep the law on your side. Failing to signal is a ticketable offense.

Highway Hint

Most states require the driver to signal at least 100 feet prior to any change in direction.

18.Drifting onto the Right Shoulder

As you travel down a two-lane highway in the desert, your right wheels drop off onto the unpaved shoulder of the road. Do you know how to react to avoid an auto accident?

To correct this situation:

  • If the level of the shoulder is only slightly below the pavement, recovery is fairly easy. Hold the steering wheel firmly and ease off the accelerator. If there is nothing in the way, steer so that your vehicle straddles the edge of the pavement.
  • Do not turn the steering wheel sharply. You can turn the steering wheel up to one-quarter turn until the front tire is back on the pavement. Then continue straight down the road.

Highway Hint

If your tire scrubs against the side of the pavement, do not steer more sharply. Instead, ease off the accelerator, hold the steering wheel firmly, and straddle the pavement once more. Then repeat the procedure as stated before.

Children playing, pedestrians walking, cars pulling away from the curb, cross-street traffic, someone getting out of a car—each of these everyday events can spell disaster for an inattentive driver. Understanding "the big picture" can be the difference between being involved in a car accident and avoiding one.

To get the "big picture”:

  • Search the road and roadside at least 12 seconds ahead while driving. Think of this as your "visual lead time," which will allow you time and space to make decisions and control your vehicle.

Highway Hint

At higher speeds, it's especially important to get the big picture. As speed increases, your eyes focus more on what's directly in front of you and less on what is to your left and right.

20. Head-On Collisions

You're driving down a two-lane highway at 55 mph. In the distance, you see a car approaching in your lane at a high rate of speed. You frantically honk your horn, but the car continues to bear down toward you in your lane. You think the driver might be asleep or drunk. Do you know what to do to avoid an auto accident?

To avoid a head-on collision:

  • Move to the right. If you move left, the head-on you were hoping to avoid may still happen. If the oncoming driver recovers, he may instinctively swerve back into his proper lane.
  • Reduce your speed and wait as long as you can to pull out of your lane. Pull as far to the right as possible; if needed, you should drive completely off the road.

Highway Hint

Driving off the road isn't without risk: There is a possibility you may be injured. However, it's almost always better to suffer this than a head-on collision. If you must hit something, aim for something relatively soft, such as shrubbery.

At the Law Office of Robert J. Kaiser, we've helped hundreds of people who have been injured in auto accidents in Santa Clarita. Contact us today to get started on your case—it’s free!

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