Everyday driving habits that can help avoid accidents

If accident avoidance is your goal, it's not hard to tweak your driving habits just slightly to reduce the odds of being in a crash. A few easy changes you can make include:

-- Not driving in the fast lane. Highway accidents have a tendency to happen more often in the fast lane, they're more dangerous at high speeds and it's usually harder to move over and avoid a problem in the left lane than the right.

-- Checking for other cars manually, not just with mirrors and sensors. Your vehicle has blind spots. Yes, mirrors and sensors help, but you shouldn't rely on them alone. When turning or changing lanes, take a second to turn and check for vehicles, no matter what you see in the mirror.

-- Watching the traffic at least two cars ahead of you. Most people just watch the next car up, but that means you may only have a split second to react. If you keep your eyes farther down the road, you buy valuable time to avoid a crash or a pileup.

-- Identify dangerous drivers and keep your distance. Maybe a driver's back window is so dirty you doubt he or she can see out it at all. Maybe the car is drifting from the shoulder to the center line, indicating that the driver could be drunk or texting. Maybe a pickup is loaded with items that don't look like they were strapped on very well. Don't just wait for a crash to react. Try to spot these hazards in advance, determine that those drivers increase your level of risk and then pass them or drop back to keep your distance.

Naturally, even making these changes to the way you drive on a daily basis won't prevent every crash. Other drivers still make mistakes and cause accidents that you can't avoid. When this happens, just be sure you know what rights you have to compensation.

Source: Edmunds, "Top 10 Editors' Tips to Prevent a Car Accident," Caroline Pardilla, accessed Jan. 12, 2017

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