Car Accidents How to Avoid Them?
A car accident can be one of the most frightening and traumatic experiences you can experience as a driver. No matter how old you are, whether it's your first car or you've been driving for years, it's never easy to experience that sudden jolt and hear the sound of metal hitting metal.
Unfortunately, in most cases, it never crosses our minds that this type of situation could happen to us when we find ourselves behind the wheel. However, the statistics are stark. According to INEGI data. of the nearly 300,000 accidents registered in Mexico in 2020, about 3,500 were fatal accidents, 65,000 resulted in injured people, and almost 290,000 caused material damage and high costs.
Such is the number of accidents that occur in our country that we occupy the seventh position worldwide in mortality due to automobile accidents. In fact, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health (INSP) these types of accidents "are the first cause of death in young people between 5 and 29 years of age and the fifth among the general population."
Hence the importance that both the Federal Government and other Health and Public Safety Institutions have placed on promoting a culture of education and road safety focused on the prevention of this type of traffic incident.
What Is a Car Accident?
A car accident is basically the collision that occurs between two vehicles, or between a vehicle and an object or person, while driving on public or private roads. Depending on the type of collision, car accidents can be classified into three categories:
Collisions by Scopes
In a rear-end collision, the front of one vehicle hits the rear of another. This type of car crash usually occurs when an adequate safety distance is not kept between one vehicle and another, which, coupled with speeding, means that there is not enough time or distance to stop the car before “ reach” the other.
Side impacts are one of the most common types of car accidents. This type of impact occurs when one car collides with the side of another. In these vehicle accidents, the force of the impact is not only directed at the area where the contact occurred, but is also distributed to other areas of the vehicles involved, which can cause uncontrollable skids and even rollovers.
Head-on crashes occur when a vehicle traveling in your lane suddenly meets another vehicle moving in the opposite direction, colliding head-on. These types of car accidents are usually more spectacular than rear-end collisions, since they involve a full frontal impact, and therefore are more likely to cause fatalities and serious injuries to the occupants of the vehicles involved.
Most Common Causes of Car Accidents
Car accidents can happen for a number of different reasons, from driver inexperience to alcohol or other substance use. Here are some of the most common risk factors that can contribute to car crashes.
Bad Driving Habits
Human errors are one of the most common causes of traffic accidents and in many cases are due to bad driving habits such as: not respecting speed limits, abrupt and inconsistent braking, aggressive lane changes without using flashing lights etc. Reckless driving greatly increases the risk that you may be involved in traffic accidents.
Your brain is the most important tool you have when operating a motor vehicle. When you get distracted driving, you stop paying attention to your surroundings and especially to the road and the cars around you. It is just at that moment when there is a greater risk of being involved in a road accident. Distractions can take many forms such as: talking on the phone, texting while driving, adjusting the radio volume or station, or simply paying too much attention to other vehicle occupants.
Alcohol is a depressant substance that causes a state of sedation in your body. In this state you are less aware of what is happening around you and you can expose yourself to high-risk situations without realizing it. Alcohol abuse slows down your mental activity, which in turn causes speech problems, slow reflexes, and a reduction in your reaction and coordination abilities. These deficiencies inhibit your ability to think clearly and therefore increase the risk of causing road accidents and even death.
For many people, driving is a daily activity. However, doing it routinely can cause you to get used to the route and make it difficult to stay alert, especially if you find yourself tired or absorbed in your thoughts and worries. Unfortunately, fatigue can have a negative impact on a person's reaction time and decision-making ability when driving. As you can imagine, this increases the risk of having a traffic accident.
When we drive at high speeds we are more likely to make mistakes, this is because our brain has less time to process all the information from our environment and to make correct decisions. On the other hand, a bad movement at high speeds can quickly amplify and make us lose control of our car, thus increasing the risk of causing a traffic accident. Victims of speeding accidents are less likely to survive because the severity of the impact is amplified by the kinetic energy of high speeds.
Adverse Weather Conditions
Car accidents are not always caused by reckless driving, sometimes bad weather conditions can also become a major risk factor. Meteorological events such as rain, hail, wind or ice on the road surface can cause serious vehicle accidents. That is why as a driver, you should take extra precautions when you know that adverse weather will be a factor during your trip.
Recommendations to Prevent Car Accidents
Now that you know what a traffic accident is and what are the risk factors that can cause it, you will surely wonder what you can do to avoid it. That is why here we present a list of recommendations that will prevent you from being involved in a traffic accident
Focus Your Attention on Your Surroundings at All Times
Whenever you are behind the wheel you must remain in a constant state of alert. Paying attention to the actions of other car drivers, pedestrians, or objects in the road will allow you to react in advance to avoid or minimize the risk of serious accidents. Defensive driving courses are an excellent option to develop these types of advanced driving skills.
Avoid Distractions While Driving
As we have just mentioned, when driving your attention must be 100% focused on the steering wheel and your surroundings. Unfortunately many drivers are distracted by their cell phone, radio and even other passengers. These distractions, no matter how brief they may seem, potentially increase the risk of an accident. When you drive, keep your cell phone to avoid the temptation to check your messages or whatsapps, make calls or check your social networks. It is preferable to access its basic functionalities (maps or navigation) through driving assistance applications such as CarPlay or Android Auto.
Keep a Proper Safety Distance
Many of the road accidents occur due to not respecting the speed limits and not keeping an adequate distance between other vehicles. A good practice is to maintain at least 5 seconds of separation between your vehicle and the car in front. This will allow you to have a better view of the surroundings and will allow you to react safely in the event that you observe any risk situation, thus minimizing the risk of an accident.
Do Not Exceed the Speed Limits
Did you know that there is a direct relationship between the speed with which you crash and the risk of death? That is, if you crash at high speeds, you are much more likely to suffer a fatal accident, or in the best case, suffer permanent injuries that affect your quality of life. Why risk? The most advisable thing is to respect the speed limits both on highways and in urban areas in order to minimize the risk of traffic accidents.
Use the Seat Belt
Seat belts are devices specifically created to keep you safe in the event of a crash. The design and strength of the seat belt will keep you secured in the seat, reducing the chance of you being thrown on impact, thereby minimizing the chance of loss of life or serious personal injury. For this reason, it is of the utmost importance that both you and the rest of your companions wear a seat belt at all times during the journey.
Avoid Alcohol Consumption If You Are Going to Drive
As we have already mentioned, alcohol consumption and abuse is one of the most common risk factors observed in accidents that occur among the young male population. The effects of alcohol greatly reduce your reflexes and make it difficult to make decisions, which prevents you from reacting appropriately in an emergency. If you are going to drink, it is best that you do not drive, or that a designated driver who has not ingested any type of alcoholic beverages does so. In the latter case, you can always choose to get around using any of the on-demand transportation apps like Uber, Didi, Cabify, etc.
Keep Your Car in Good Condition
Keeping your car in perfect mechanical condition not only extends the average life of your motor vehicle, it can also help reduce the occurrence of traffic accidents. For this reason it is vitally important to perform a detailed check of all of your car's systems as part of a regular automotive maintenance program.
For example, checking the condition and pressure of your car's tires ensures that its performance is adequate in case you drive in adverse weather conditions. Reviewing the performance of the braking system will ensure that they operate optimally in risky situations.
What to Do in Case of a Car Accident?
If, despite following these recommendations, you get into a car accident, it is important that you know how to react and what to do. That is why we share with you the following tips:
Although it may seem difficult, losing control will only prevent you from thinking clearly. By being calm you will be able to evaluate the situation in perspective and seek the necessary help in the shortest possible time. Avoid making hasty decisions and, if possible, wait for help to arrive. Calmness can be a key factor in critical situations.
Contact the Emergency Numbers
When an accident occurs, it is essential to receive attention as soon as possible. For this reason, it is very important to have the numbers of the emergency services and data about your location at hand.
- Emergencies: 911
- Red Cross: 53 95 11 11
- Federal Police: 088
- Hood: 074
Contact Your Insurance Company
Insurance companies generally have a claims telephone number where you can call to report the accident. It is very important that when contacting them you have your insurance policy at hand and report both your location and whether there are any injured victims. This will make it easier to dispatch the adjuster and emergency services. Having auto insurance is very useful, since in addition to protecting you financially for material or physical damage that you could cause, it will also provide you with legal advice regarding punitive damages that you have caused.
Driving is a high-risk activity. It only takes a few seconds for the unthinkable to happen and suddenly you find yourself involved in an accident that could change your life forever. To stay safe while driving, it is important that you pay attention to your surroundings at all times and drive defensively.
We hope that this article has helped you measure the risks to which you expose yourself when driving and that you follow our recommendations to stay safe.