7 ways you can avoid and prevent car accidents

Car accidents rank as one of the leading causes of injury and death year after year. The statistics paint a bleak picture, but there are many things you can do to reduce the risk of an accident. When you get behind the wheel, remember to:

1. Look 10 seconds ahead.

Keep your eyes well ahead of the car. Don't look so close that you can't stop when you spot a hazard. Pick a point ahead of the car and count off the seconds until you pass it to make sure you're looking far enough.

2. Look for kids.

Kids are unpredictable. They'll act without thinking and do things you'd never expect. In residential areas, look for them at all times and keep your eyes on them - even if they're safety in the yard - as you go by.

3. Look both ways, even at stoplights.

You know to look both ways before crossing the street, but you also need to do it when driving through a light that just turned green. All too often, someone runs the red light. Never assume the red means other drivers will actually stop.

4. Always keep a hand on the wheel.

Better yet, keep both hands on the wheel. Never drive with your knees or try to do too much on the go. Multitasking may be common, but it's deadly on the road. This means that if you have to talk on the phone while driving, invest in a hands-free set. Lastly, while all drivers intuitively understand this fact, texting or surfing the Internet while driving is always a bad idea.

5. Remember your blind spots.

A quick check over your should may not be enough. This is especially true with large trucks and SUVs. Remember your blind spots, use your mirrors, and keep an eye on traffic at all times - not just when you want to merge - so you always know the locations of other cars.

6. Never tailgate or speed.

Both are forms of aggressive driving. They can be deadly. Instead, plan ahead and give yourself more than enough time to get wherever you're going. If you don't feel like you're in a rush, you'll drive safely. Even if you are going to be late, think about how important it really is and if it's worth getting in an accident.

7. Be courteous.

People often feel wronged when others cut them off or get angry when a driver doesn't start going as soon as the light turns green. Keep your emotions in check and focus on driving safely.

Now, you may look at this list and realize that you can do all of this and still be hit and injured by another driver who ignores these tips. Unfortunately, that is a risk you take every time you pull out of the driveway. When that happens, it's critical that you know your legal rights to compensation.

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