Minimizing your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident

It is unlikely that you start your day thinking of the consequences of a motor vehicle accident.  And obviously no one wants to get into an accident, whether it is their fault or not.  However, the reality is that accidents happen in shocking numbers daily throughout the Province of Alberta. 

The most minor of accidents is terribly inconvenient and costly. A more serious and significant collision is potentially life altering if an injury occurs and tragic if a fatality is the result.

Not all accidents can be avoided, but as a driver with almost 40 years of experience, I believe there are many things that can be done to greatly reduce your risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident. As a personal injury lawyer, I know this to be the case.

Vehicle Maintenance

It all starts with ensuring that your vehicle is fit to take to the road.  Ask yourself questions like this:  

Do my tires have sufficient tread on them?  Are they properly inflated? Are my brakes in proper working condition? Is my vehicle’s steering responsive? Are all of my lights operable and clean? Is my visibility obstructed by cargo or damaged/dirty windows?

This short list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, but I trust that you get the point.  Vehicles that are properly maintained make for safe travel. If you have any doubt whether or not your vehicle is safe, please have it inspected by a certified mechanic.

Obeying the Rules of the Road

It may seem obvious, but obeying the rules of the road will greatly reduce your risk of an accident. In particular, following posted speed limits, making safe lane changes and adhering to all traffic control devices and signage all play an important part in your safety on the road.

Your behavior at intersections is perhaps most critical.  In my experience, unsafe left turners and those who fail to properly navigate a stop or yield sign cause close to 50% of the cases that I advance.  For many drivers, judging the speed of other vehicles and the safe distance needed to execute a turn or clear an intersection is extremely difficult. Your best protection is to approach all controlled intersections with caution and attention. Taking an extra second to assess for the presence of other vehicles whether you have the right of way or not will undoubtedly help minimize your risk of collision.

Avoiding Distracted Driving

This is an area of great concern for all users of roadways, undoubtedly worldwide.  The technological advancement in automobiles over and above the addictive nature of the cell phone has created roadways full of drivers that suffer from impaired attention to tasks at hand. 

You can do your part by simply putting your phone down or leaving it in your bag or your pocket, while operating your motor vehicle. Similarly, you can minimize your interaction with your vehicle’s electronic equipment by adjusting settings to all creature comforts prior to starting your journey on the road and then leaving things set until you arrive at your destination. 

Unfortunately, even if you adjust your behaviour to avoid driving distracted, others around you likely will not. Accordingly, it is important for you to keep a heightened lookout while on the road for those vehicles weaving inside of adjacent or oncoming lanes or at intersections. In short, it is necessary not only to ensure that you are driving safely but that you are aware of whether or not those around you are doing the same thing. 

Identifying Hazardous Driver Behaviour

The roads in Alberta are more congested than ever before as our population continues to rise year after year.  Unfortunately, our infrastructure of highways and roadways remains largely the same.  The result is that it takes longer to get where you are going and there is greater risk of collision as traffic volumes increase.

This increased density on our streets can lead to driver frustration that often results in risky and dangerous maneuvers. In extreme cases, it can even result in intentional acts of road rage.

Accordingly, if you can identify those that are driving in an unsafe manner you should take reasonable and safe steps to remove yourself from potential harms way.  That may simply require a change of lane.  In some cases, it may be necessary to alter your route or pull over altogether for your own safety.   

At all cost avoid personal confrontation with other drivers. If another driver exits their vehicle and approaches your vehicle while stopped in traffic or at an intersection, please do not get out of your vehicle.  Call 911 and when safe to do so, remove yourself and your vehicle from the threatening behaviour. 

Notwithstanding the increase in public transit and rideshare options, driving oneself remains a very necessary and hopefully pleasurable activity. It is my sincere hope and desire to see the number of collisions in this province decline. However, if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and have questions, please feel free to contact me directly either by phone, 780-401-2707, or email joneill@jameshbrown.com   

related post