Did you know that in 2020, nearly 42,060 people lost their lives in car accidents — the highest in 13 years, and the biggest year to year spike in 96 years? This startling statistic in a year where people barely stepped out of their houses due to a global pandemic.

You can never be too careful when you are out driving on the road, and there is always a risk of encountering an untoward situation. All you can do here is be careful about your driving habits and take the prescribed preventive actions so that you can mitigate most of the damage that you would incur in such an accident.

With that in mind, here are a few helpful tips that you can follow:

#1 Always buckle up

The fact that you can choose to wear or undo your seatbelt, does not imply that it is optional. Ask anybody and they will tell you that wearing your seatbelt while driving is basically Driving 101. Seatbelts have been known to reduce fatal as well as non-fatal injuries by 60% for front-seat passengers, and 44% for rear-seat passengers. In fact, even front-seat passengers should wear seat belts to prevent any major injuries in case of a car accident.

It is important to know that by not wearing a seatbelt, you are 30 times more likely to get ejected from the car in crashes that may not be that serious otherwise. Since there is enough documented evidence to prove that seat belts can save thousands of lives each year, it is considered to be the most primary thing required of a responsible driver and passenger.

Legally speaking, in the United States, seatbelt use is regulated by primary or secondary enforcement laws based on the state you are driving in.

#2 Ensure regular vehicle maintenance and service

For most people, their car is a prized possession that they hold on to very dearly, and speak about very fondly. For others, it is just a primary mode of transportation. Regardless of which bracket you fall in, maintaining your car condition and getting it serviced frequently should never be taken for granted.

Remember: your car is only as safe as you make it to be. Even then, research suggests that 40% of drivers go for reactive maintenance for their vehicle as opposed to routine maintenance. Find a trustworthy mechanic who can help you maintain your car regularly, and get it serviced periodically by them. Something as simple as ensuring that your brakes, airbags, and other vital parts are functioning properly, can save your life. If you drive long distances regularly then it is advisable that you invest in an automated mechanism that lets you know if your car may face any issues.

#3 Keep your body braced

Even the safest drivers can find themselves in car crashes – regardless of whether they are at fault or not. The most aggravating part about being in such a crash is that you have but a few seconds to take action before you realize that you are about to get hit. In most cases, there is very little that drivers can do to prevent the oncoming damage, but a proven preventative action is to brace your body, sit upright, and keep your back rested against the headrest and seat.

These may seem like simple actions but they can help in preventing fatal injuries in many cases. Doing this essentially distributes and redirects the impact to a larger part of your body. Along with this, you should also tighten your muscles and keep your hands firmly on the steering wheel.

#4 Practice ‘Safe Driving’ Habits

When we say safe driving, it is not just about knowing the traffic rules and following them diligently. In many instances, you might be following the law and still have habits that may cost you your life on the road. While that is a given, drivers should inculcate habits that can potentially reduce the odds of you getting into an accident.

Developing simple habits such as not using your mobile phone unless it is an emergency, not carrying things in your hand while driving, and keeping your eyes on the road at all times can be helpful. Other ideal habits such as limiting your night driving, avoiding driving on icy roads, and driving a safe vehicle are also strongly recommended.

Additionally, if you are driving with multiple passengers, it is best to drive slowly and avoid distractions so that you can be completely alert at all times. While the aforementioned habits are not legally enforced, they can be useful in mitigating the damage that you can otherwise incur in case of a car crash.

#5 Never take sobriety for granted

A lot has been said about the importance of being sober when you are on the road. Even if you deem your threshold for alcohol to be quite high, and think you have not “drank enough” to lose control, life-threatening disasters are just one careless moment away. Alcohol and drugs are known to reduce your reaction time and impulses, which means you may not be able to protect yourself from an oncoming crash.

Driving a car after consuming alcohol or drugs can cost you a lot of things, including your license, your quality of life in case of injuries, and in severe cases — your life. A study by NHTSA indicates that 28 people die of drunk driving accidents every day, which roughly comes down to one person every 52 minutes.

Plus, even if you walk away unharmed from a car crash while driving under influence, there is a possibility that the other party may be injured. In such cases, you would not only be losing the possibility of claiming compensation for the damages to your car, you may be inviting a personal injury lawsuit.

The Verdict

Even the most careful drivers can end up in a car accident owing to a moment of carelessness or someone else’s fault. While you cannot always walk away unscathed from such accidents, you can take preventive actions that can help you minimize the damage that can otherwise take place. If you are sure that the car accident was caused by the other party, and that you took all the right steps to avoid it, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit. You should be aware of what to do and what not to do right after such a car accident and contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.