Let’s face it. Nobody wants to be involved in a car accident or collision. Everybody on the road wants to get somewhere, be it home, work, a fancy restaurant, a gym, or anywhere else. But they also want to get there safely. Safe driving is very important when operating a motor vehicle, lest you find yourself in an accident and need the services of a personal injury lawyer.
Let’s go over some basic rules of the road and driving etiquette that will help you avoid accidents and collisions.
Traffic signs and signals are one of the most important pieces of road safety, and following them is not optional.
We’ve all seen people run Stop signs, especially when they think they don’t matter. But it is sometimes the case that traffic may be coming from a direction not readily apparent by the time you first get to the stop line. But even if that’s not the case, it’s always important to stop at Stop signs because they are there for a reason. Even if you’re sure there’s no traffic coming before you get there, you still have to stop.
Speed limit signs are another part of road safety that some people don’t pay much attention to. This one is a little more understandable, because technically, the safest thing to do is to match the speed of traffic around you, and sometimes that may be contrary to the posted speed limit. You should still follow the posted speed limit as best as you can, especially if there are no other vehicles on the road near you. And extra attention to the speed limit should be taken in cases of inclement weather, in which case the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says you should reduce your speed by 1/3 on wet roads and by 1/2 on snow-packed roads.
Traffic signals are probably the most frequent type of installation you’ll run across, and it’s very important to follow them. They control traffic in intersections to make sure that all traffic can pass through smoothly and make their turns in ample time while ensuring that opposing traffic do not meet each other in the intersection.
Most motorists know that green means “go,” yellow means “prepare to stop,” and red means “stop.” But what you may not know is what to do when you come across flashing lights. Flashing yellow lights mean “caution,” so you may proceed through the light at normal speed, but be extra cautious of your surroundings in case you need to stop or slow down suddenly. A flashing red light is treated the same as a Stop sign. And if the traffic signal is malfunctioning or destroyed (such as due to extreme weather conditions or traffic accidents), it is also treated as a Stop sign.
Another important aspect of traffic signals and intersections is making sure you are able to clear the intersection once you enter it. It may be difficult for larger intersections, but it’s always a good practice to scan ahead and make sure traffic is not backing up such that it would prevent you from clearing the intersection before the light turns red, stranding you in the middle of said intersection when perpendicular traffic gets the green. That is not a good place to be, and could very well lead to an accident from an inattentive driver.
And on the topic of turning, it’s even more important to be aware of clearance in the case of left turns because your visuals may be blocked by traffic in other lanes.
If you are turning on an unprotected signal (that means there is no arrow designating your turn to go, but you may still turn left or right from your lane) be extra cautious of pedestrians in crosswalks because sometimes both pedestrians and vehicles have the go ahead, but pedestrians will have the right of way in this situation.
You will often have to yield to other traffic or pedestrians in certain places, so pay attention to any yield signs that designate this.
Aggressive drivers are the bane of many good drivers out there. People that don’t signal when they turn or change lanes, people who cut others off to save just a few seconds, or people that overtake in anger when the person in front of them is not going as fast as they would like. This is something you will unfortunately have to deal with on the road, and there is a right way to deal with it.
Defensive driving is how you should approach aggressive drivers. Defensive driving is essentially being aware of your surroundings and not being caught off-guard by other drivers who may not be so attentive. For example, if the lane next to you is going a bit faster than you are, and there is just enough space to squeeze by you and the car in the other lane, and you see in your rearview mirror a car zooming in the next lane, you can reasonably expect that they are going to cut you off. This can certainly be a harrowing situation, but the best thing to do is to try to keep calm and maintain your lane and speed, and if it’s safe, slow down a little to create a bigger gap that the speeding car can pass through.
You shouldn’t think of this as giving in to the dangerous driver; rather, think of it as protecting yourself from an accident and preventing a grave injury. You should never attempt to police bad drivers (assuming you are not a police officer).
On the topic of road rage, again, it can be very scary, but the most important thing is to refrain from engaging with them. Most of them will eventually drive off and you can go about your day. But in the event that the road rager persists in targeting you, call 911 as soon as you can and stay in your car with the windows rolled up, and do not engage with the road rager. Although you normally should never use your phone while driving, this is a special circumstance and you will not get in trouble for calling the police while driving in this situation.
Keep these guidelines in mind while you’re out on the road. Follow the rules of the road and do your best to make sure everyone arrives at their destination safely. Learn more at: www.zanerhardenlaw.com.