Frustraited man driving car and yelling throught window with raised arm

Bad habits are often hard to break, but some can cost you your livelihood or even your life. Please heed the following advice on some of the most common bad driving habits, as well as details on what to do in the event of an accident.

Aggressive Driving

Aggressive driving is reportedly a factor in nearly 60% of all fatal motor vehicle crashes, according to a report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

  • Do not tailgate.
  • Do not make frequent or unnecessary lane changes.
  • Do not turn or change lanes without using a turn signal.
  • Always yield the right of way when the law dictates.
  • Avoid aggressive driving, it often leads to road rage incidents, which can result in accidents, assaults and sometimes arrests.
  • Remember: Almost all collisions are preventable – meaning the driver failed to exercise every reasonable precaution to prevent it.

Rear-end Collisions

Most rear-end collisions are caused by drivers tailgating and not maintaining safe following distances.

  • Always increase following distances in bad, slippery weather conditions and when you are tired or stressed, since your reaction time is adversely affected.
  • Always anticipate that a taxi or vehicle for hire may stop suddenly and without warning to respond to a street hail.
  • Before proceeding when a traffic signal turns green, first scan the entire area to be sure other vehicles are not making unsafe, last-minute turns.
  • Always be aware of surrounding vehicles for your safety and to avoid a common insurance fraud scheme: when the driver in front of you stops for no apparent reason and the vehicle next to you (conspiring with the other driver) prevents you from taking evasive action.
  • Beware of other drivers texting or using a cell phone. It can cause them to drive erratically or slow down for no obvious reason.

Space to the Side

It’s important to maintain space on both sides of your vehicle so that you can safely turn and/or change lanes.

  • Avoid driving directly next to other vehicles on multi-lane roads. Someone may crowd your lane or try to change lanes and hit you. Either move ahead or drop behind the other vehicle.
  • Do not crowd the center line on two-lane roads. Keep space between yourself and oncoming traffic by driving down the center of your lane, when possible.
  • Be courteous and make room for vehicles entering a multi-lane roadway. If there is not a vehicle in the lane next to you, move over a lane.
  • Stay vigilant near parked vehicles. People often step out of their parked car without looking, pedestrians unexpectedly step between vehicles into the street, and parked cars sometimes suddenly pull out without signaling.
  • Give extra space to pedestrians, bicycles and children. They may move into your path without warning.
  • When possible, take hazards one at a time. For example, if you are overtaking a bicycle and an oncoming vehicle is approaching, slow down and let the vehicle pass first so you can give extra room to the bicycle.

In the Event of an Accident Obtain the Following

  • The names, addresses, license numbers and phone numbers of all involved drivers and passengers.
  • The name, address and phone number of all vehicle owners, if different from the drivers.
  • Insurance company names (or 3-digit codes), policy numbers, and expiration dates.
  • The names, addresses and phone numbers of all witnesses.
  • The name, phone number and precinct numbers of responding police officers, as well as the accident report number.
  • The name, address and phone number of any medical facility anyone is taken to from the scene by ambulance.
  • The name, address and phone number of any tow trucks responding to and removing vehicles from the scene.
  • Take pictures of all vehicles – from the point of impact, as well as all sides and all angles. Take photos of skid marks, traffic signals and anything else that may have caused the accident. Take photos of the scene from up close and a distance. Photograph nearby buildings and stores. Witnesses may have watched the accident happen from indoors but were unable to come forward.
  • Under no circumstances should you attempt to settle an accident at the scene by offering to or accepting cash from any involved driver or passenger.

Never Leave the Scene of an Accident

  • If you are in any accident – no matter how minor it may appear – you can be charged criminally for leaving the scene too quickly. Many pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists say they are uninjured, only to file a claim later.
  • Call police to the scene whenever a pedestrian requests them. If you leave the scene of an accident with an alleged pedestrian injury you may be arrested and charged with a crime.
  • Many New York City streets are equipped with police surveillance cameras to record traffic and pedestrian activity.
Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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