According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration “National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey,” over 97% of all motor vehicle crashes are caused by driver error. This is why motor vehicle crashes are not called “accidents” by law enforcement and driver education professionals. Accidents are just that, unintentional, unforseen mistakes. They happen all the time. We accidentally drop our cell phone, or accidentally walk into a glass door. When a vehicle blows through an intersection and collides with another vehicle or pedestrian — that isn’t an accident, but a preventable traffic collision.
What is Considered a Traffic Collision?
A traffic collision, also referred to as a motor vehicle collision, is when a vehicle makes contact with another vehicle, pedestrian, animal or stationary object. Even with good visibility and in the best of conditions, intersections are a high-risk area for collisions.
4 Major Causes of Traffic Collisions
Distracted Driving – One of the biggest and most common reasons for traffic collisions involves distracted driving and cell phone use.
Impaired Driving – Driving under the influence of mind altering substances (ie: alcohol, prescription drugs, cannabis etc.)
Speeding – For every 10 miles per hour over 50 mph, the risk of death in a traffic collision doubles.
Poor Driving Conditions – Driving at night, in snow, rain and other less than ideal conditions can increase your chances of being involved in a traffic collision.
How to Avoid a Traffic Collision
Even for experienced drivers, intersections are among the most hazardous locations and are the site of many traffic collisions. It may sound simple, but the sooner you size-up an intersection and identify the potential hazards, the more likely you are to avoid a traffic collision. As you enter an intersection, scan the entire block for potential problems. Your scan should help determine which lane to select. Also, check the traffic light. If it is green when you enter the block, anticipate it will change by the time you reach the intersection. Take your foot off the accelerator and cover the brake. Doing so will allow you to stop smoothly should the light change.
Don’t assume that other drivers will be able to stop when they are approaching an intersection. A driver might blow right through. Likewise, if another driver is turning at the intersection, he/she may not be able to make the turn successfully and could veer into you. In light traffic conditions, try to time your approach so you do not reach the intersection at the exact time as another vehicle.
Exercise caution when operating your vehicle at high speeds on a large roadway. Generally, high-speed roadways, when compared to other roadways, have a lower frequency of collisions; however, when a collision does occur, it is often more severe because of the combination of speed and impact.
When you plan to drive in areas that you are not familiar with, be certain to know your exit number ahead of time. Knowing the exit number before your exit will give you plenty of time to position your vehicle properly. If you inadvertently miss your exit, do not back-up. This may cause a collision with other exiting traffic. Instead, wait for traffic to clear. Then go to the next exit to double back.
Practice Scanning Ahead
Stay alert of the potential dangers and scan ahead to avoid rear-end collisions. The driver should steer and focus their attention high, so as to view the road as whole and not just a few feet ahead.
Identify, Predict, Decide, and Execute (IPDE): This is the step-by-step process behind the principles of defensive driving and complexities of visual perception in traffic – it could very well save your life and those of your passengers.
Steps of the IPDE process are:
I — Identify — Locate potential hazards within the driving scene
P — Predict — Judge where the possible points of conflict may occur
D — Decide — Determine what action to take, when, and where to take it
E — Execute — Act by maneuvering the car to avoid conflicts
IPDE can help you avoid collisions. Take a moment to think through the IPDE process and how you should use it while driving. In the event of a collision, use extreme caution and seek emergency medical assistance.
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