Have you ever changed lanes on the highway only to wonder if the driver in the next lane is looking to move into the same lane and doesn’t see you? Or maybe you have seen a car swerving within its lane and wondered if the driver is drunk or distracted.  Because car crashes occur every day, it is only natural to drive defensively and be concerned for your safety.

Sadly, collisions often produce tragic outcomes such as serious injuries and fatalities for innocent motorists. Although this news might be discouraging and cause you to worry more about your safety on the roadway, a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reveals that car crash fatalities actually decreased slightly nationwide from 32,719 deaths in 2013 to 32,675 fatalities in 2014.

While the preliminary figures show the death rate fell from 1.09 fatalities per 100 million miles traveled in 2013 to 1.08 deaths per 100 million miles traveled in 2014 (a slight decrease at 0.1 percent), NHTSA estimates that traffic fatalities in the Maryland, D.C., and Virginia area actually dropped by two percent.

While this news is encouraging to motorists who drive the Capital Beltway, it is still critical to drive defensively, even though there has been a decline in roadway deaths. Because there are many drivers who still create dangerous environments due to distracted, drunk, drugged, and drowsy driving, it is important that all motorists have a refresher on how to drive defensively.

Here are some defensive driving tips to help keep you safe:

  • Look far ahead. Many drivers just look at the car or two in front of them and forget that it is important to look as far ahead down the road as possible. By doing this, you can reduce your crash risks by determining if there are any roadway hazards.
  • Cut out anything that distracts you at the wheel, including texting and talking on a cell phone—both handheld and hands-free. Even eating and drinking or using a navigation system can cause distractions at the wheel and increase your chances of crashing.
  • Don’t tailgate. By maintaining a proper following distance of about three to four seconds, you should have enough space to stop and decrease your chances of hitting the car in front of you.
  • Drive the speed of traffic. It is important not to speed or drive too slow. Speeding is a major cause of collisions, which is why going with the flow of traffic is often the best way to avoid a crash. Also, it is critical that you slow down for dangerous roadway conditions and inclement weather.
  • Leave yourself an escape route. By knowing where other drivers are around you and speeding up or slowing down to give you an out, you may be able to avoid a crash if a driving emergency occurs and you need to quickly change lanes.
  • Be visible. Don’t assume that other drivers see you. Always use your turn signals and headlights when necessary, and avoid driving in blind spots.

By following these defensive driving tips, you may increase your safety on the road and decrease your chances of being in a wreck. Hopefully you won’t be in a traffic accident, but if you are, we have additional tips that will help you get the most out of your personal injury claim. Just request a free copy of our book, 10 Tips to Get the Maximum Compensation After a Maryland Auto Accident.