Traffic accidents are not always something you can avoid, especially on the freeway where one driver’s mistake can cause a crash that affects many others.
However, there are practical habits that drivers can cultivate to significantly reduce the risk of such accidents.
1. Maintain a safe following distance
A safe following distance allows you to react swiftly in case of sudden stops or unexpected events. To calculate a safe following distance, use the three-second rule. Choose a stationary object on the side of the road, such as a sign or a tree. When the vehicle ahead of you passes this point, start counting.
If you reach the same point before counting to three, you are following too closely and should increase your distance. In adverse weather conditions or while towing a trailer, extend this to a five or six-second rule. 244,092 people were injured in traffic crashes in Texas in 2022. Even if an accident is not avoidable, a safe following distance helps you stop in time to reduce the risk of injury.
2. Use your turn signals to change lanes
Turn signals are a small but important tool for preventing freeway accidents. They communicate your intentions to other drivers, giving them time to react accordingly. When changing lanes, signal at least 100 feet before making your move. This provides ample warning to drivers behind and beside you. Similarly, when exiting the freeway, activate your turn signal well in advance.
3. Avoid distractions while driving
Distractions are a leading cause of freeway accidents. Avoid activities like texting, talking on the phone, eating or fiddling with the radio when you are behind the wheel. If you need to use your phone or adjust settings, pull over to a safe location. Many modern vehicles even have hands-free calling and voice-activated controls, both of which make it easier to avoid taking your eyes off the road.
The right freeway driving habits not only protect you but also contribute to the overall safety of the roadways by making sure your movements are well-advertised to other drivers before they happen. The fewer sudden, unexpected changes drivers have to contend with, the easier driving gets.