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November 14, 2012
10 Expert Tips for Avoiding Car Accidents

You've heard it before but it deserves repeating--the biggest risk your employees face every day is driving to and from work. Among those concerned about reducing the number of vehicle crashes are the folks at Edmunds is known for its well-respected car-buying guide. Its website is a compendium of all things car, including reviews, pricing information, vehicle histories, and tips.

The editors admit that they "tend to be a little more practiced on the road than the average driver." Driving is their job and, in an introduction to a list of accident-avoidance tips, they observe that theirs are not obvious ones like "look both ways before entering an intersection." "Rather, [they're] tips we've picked up in the field, interacting with LA drivers in particular, driving cross-country, and driving cars on the track." Here's what they recommend:

  • Avoid the fast lane. By using the center or right lane on multilane roads, drivers have more escape routes should a problem suddenly arise that requires quick lane changes or pulling onto the shoulder. Most highway accidents occur in the left lane. Also, drivers are most conspicuous to law enforcement if they are in the left-hand or "fast" lane.
  • Keep your eyes scanning the area ahead. Smart drivers don't just stare at the car ahead. Rather, they watch the traffic in front of that car as well. This increases your chance of seeing a problem while you still have enough time to react to it. And it decreases your chance of rear-ending the vehicle in front of you should it stop suddenly.
  • Beware of blind spots. Certainly, say the Edmunds editors, you should adjust your side and rearview mirrors to provide you with one "seamless panoramic scene of the view behind you." But don't rely solely on them. You should also look directly into the lanes beside you to avoid missing something left undetected by the mirrors. As well, consider the potential blind spots affecting other drivers around you, especially truckers, and try to minimize the amount of time you spend in them.
  • Get 'racecar driver control of the wheel.' The idea here is to maintain control of the wheel by moving your seat close enough to the steering wheel (like the racecar drivers do) so that, with your arm outstretched and your back against the seat, your wrist could rest on the top of the wheel. This ensures that your arms won't tire easily and it puts you in the best position to manage last-minute evasive maneuvers.
  • Place your hands at 9 and 3. "Instead of the lazy, typical way people drive with one hand at 12 o'clock or both hands resting at the bottom of the steering wheel," use the 9 and 3 o'clock positions. This leads to better vehicle control, especially if you are forced into quick maneuvering to avoid a potential crash.
  • Judge drivers by their cars. Here's an interesting one--Edmunds suggests that a car in poor condition may signal an inattentive driver behind the wheel. Also, bear in mind that drifting in the lane may mean the driver is tired, drunk, or on the phone. Steer clear of these drivers!
  • Know your vehicle. Get in touch with your inner car. Pay attention to how it reacts in certain situations. Become familiar with the limits of your brakes and tires. How long does it take to stop when you apply maximum pressure? How much grip do your tires have? If you replaced your car's original tires with a cheap set, it's likely that you're reducing braking and handling capability.
  • Keep your vehicle in shape. Edmunds recommends sticking to the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule, a way to ensure that a vehicle will accelerate, stop, and steer when you need it to. "Reconsider the wisdom of 'getting another 1,000 miles out of old tires.'" It may not be worth it.
  • Nighttime is not the right time. Traveling at night may help you avoid congestion on the roads, but it can be a hazardous proposition. At night you're more tired, your field of vision is decreased, and you may have to deal with joyriding teens. If you are out late, drive extra defensively after midnight when people leave bars and parties.
  • Consider high-performance training. No, they're not recommending that your employees take up a career on the track. But the Edmunds experts note that going to a high-performance driving school can be a great way to improve driving skills. "Understanding how to make your car do what you want it to do in emergency situations could save your life."


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