The truth about a “car accident” is that it is never really accidental. That is why police officers do not use the word “accident”; they are “crashes” or “collisions.” This is because someone is always at fault. The two most common reasons collisions occur are speed and distraction. We’ve all seen the countless commercials and campaigns about “Slow Down, Save a Life” or “Don’t Text and Drive.” These campaigns were produced after decades of collision data regarding speeding and distracted driving. So, here are three tips any police officer wants the public to know about driving and avoiding “accidents.”
1. Speed is the primary factor in almost every collision.
When people hear the word “speeding,” the image of a car racing down the highway at 100 MPH comes to mind. But speeding is more about going too fast for the conditions of the roadway. Only drive as fast as you can safely react to the road ahead of you. Curve ahead? Slow down. Not just to negotiate the curve, but so you can stop suddenly when traffic is backed up on the other side. Raining? Snowing? Slow down. Speed limits are meant for ideal road conditions. Late for work? Slow down. To get to work in half the time it would normally take, you would have to drive twice as fast. Doing 90 in a 45 will not get you to work on time – it will get you into a “car accident.”
2. Pay attention.
The world is full of distractions. Driving requires your full attention. Low speed, rear-end collisions are entirely too common. Nobody enjoys stop-and-go traffic. But as soon as you take your eyes off the road and go when you should have stopped – Boom. “Accident.” The most common excuse police officers hear is that the driver ahead “stopped short.” The driver ahead, however, is usually not the one at fault. It falls on the driver behind, who took their eyes off the road just long enough to miss the brake lights ahead.
3. Move over.
This cannot be overstated: when you see emergency lights ahead, move over. The law in most states requires drivers to move out of the lane adjacent to an emergency vehicle on the side of the road. If you cannot move over then slow down. Penalties for violating “move over” laws can run $500 or more. More importantly, moving over might save a life. Countless emergency responders are killed every year by motorists who didn’t move over.