Our suggestions for sharing the road may seem basic – it is because they are. Using common sense and driving defensively can help you avoid many auto accidents that can injure other drivers, your passengers, and yourself.
In 2018, there were more than 312,000 crashes in Michigan, resulting in nearly 1,000 fatalities. Many of these accidents and deaths can be avoided with safe driving. Safety is the responsibility of everyone on Michigan’s roadways. Here are some reminders for drivers to be sure you do your part.
Drive defensively. After you’ve been driving for several years, operating a vehicle seems to be second nature. However, regardless of your great level of comfort, experience, and skill behind the wheel, you must stay alert at all times. Pay attention to vehicle locations, traffic flow, vehicle signals, and weather conditions to anticipate problems and have sufficient time to safely change course if needed.
Maintain a safe distance. Driving too close to cars and semis puts you at greater risk for being injured if they stop abruptly. Create plenty of space for merging, swerving, and maneuvering. You should try to maintain no less than a four-second interval between you and a tractor-trailer or other car in the event of a sudden stop. Also, when slowing down, motorcyclists may not use their brakes right away, so you may not see any brake lights. That’s because motorcyclists are able to decrease their speed by easing up on the throttle or downshifting—they slow down without using their brakes.
Always use turn signals. Other drivers aren’t mind readers. They don’t know when you plan to make a turn or pass unless you use your “blinkers.” Again, large trucks need more time to react to cars that plan to stop, turn, or merge, so it’s important to signal at least three seconds before you make the change. This lets other cars and trucks adjust to your actions.
Be aware of blind spots. Every driver on the road has a blind spot. This happens when a car passes into an area that’s not visible in either the rear view mirror or the side mirror. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that more than 800,000 accidents every year are caused in part by blind spots. When another car passes into a blind spot, you can’t see it without turning your head from side to side. As far as a big rig, the right side of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is the biggest blind spot for the truck driver, and this can block their view for three or more lanes. You should avoid being in these areas so that the driver can see you. In addition, due to their speed and size, motorcycles can flit in and out of your blind spots. To be safe, take a second look to be sure the road is clear.
Don’t cut off vehicles. This is especially true for semis and cars towing trailers. An 18-wheeler needs a lot more distance to stop. To prevent a rear-end collision, make sure you can see the entire front of the tractor-trailer or car before merging back into the right lane in front of it.
Dim your high beams at night. When traveling near or past a car or truck in the dark, dim your bright headlights because bright lights reflecting off of their mirrors can cause a few seconds of temporary blindness when traveling at highway speeds. You should dim your lights when you’re a block or closer behind a semi or car so you don’t cause them trouble with seeing you and other vehicles.
Don’t drive aggressively. Following too closely to try to get a driver to go faster can cause a mishap because it can create dangerously-short breaking distances. It can also cause a semi or car driver—as well as motorcyclist to make an unsafe maneuver. Again, you should keep a safe distance between you and other vehicles of at least four seconds.
Use caution when turning left. Negotiating a left turn can be difficult, especially when traffic is heavy on our Michigan streets and highways. There are a lot of things to consider, including difficulty seeing because of sun glare or there’s another vehicle trying to make a left turn opposite of you. Plus, there may be pedestrians in the cross walk or a motorcycle in the intersection. Use caution when making a left turn… you may need to wait a bit, so be patient.
Watch out for slow moving vehicles. If you’re driving on a state highway or county road out by Sparta, Smyrna, or Wright, you may encounter tractors, cyclists, or farm equipment. And on any Michigan roadway, like US 131 or the Interstate, there’s a chance you may be met with road-maintenance vehicles and road construction. Be ready to slow down or stop, and obey all directions and road signs.
It’s important to concentrate on driving and pay attention to what’s happening on the road. This can help you avoid accidents. Mind your manners and be courteous. Try to ignore small annoyances and issues with other drivers. Slow down and drive defensively to avoid accidents and injury.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured in an auto accident in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. We will help you pursue compensation against those who are responsible.
For a free consultation with an experienced auto accident attorney in Michigan, contact Buchanan Firm. Our firm proudly serves people all across Michigan, including major cities like Grand Rapids, Muskegon, Detroit, Lansing, Holland, St. Joe, and Ann Arbor, and rural towns such as Lowell, Ada, Fremont, Newaygo, Grand Haven, Rockford, and Cedar Springs. We will meet you after-hours, at home or in the hospital, to accommodate you.