The latest data shows that 108,371 personal injury collisions occurred in Canada in 2018. These include all reported motor vehicle crashes that involved injuries but no fatalities. These incidents caused a total of 152,847 injuries, of which 9,494 classified as serious injuries.
During the same year, 1,743 fatal car accidents occurred, claiming the lives of 1,922 people.
Many of those road accidents include rear-enders, side-impact crashes, and head-on collisions. Single-vehicle accident cases and car rollovers are also common.
Regardless of the type of crash, most road deaths and injuries are avoidable. In fact, the World Health Organization states they are completely preventable.
To that end, we created this guide listing some of the top strategies to avoid car accidents. Read on to discover what you can do to make your everyday driving safer, not only for you but for everyone else, too.
Tips for Preventing Car Accidents
Driving requires the use of your entire body, from your brain's frontal lobe down to your feet. To drive safely, you need to allow your eyes, brain, hands, and feet to all work together. If any of these parts do something else not related to driving, it can put you at risk of getting into an accident.
However, defective car components can also raise your odds of getting into a crash. For this reason, safe driving requires you and your vehicle to always be in tip-top condition.
With that said, here are some of the best strategies you can follow to prevent car accidents.
In Canada, the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08. Driving with a BAC higher than that is illegal and constitutes impaired driving. Young and novice drivers are not allowed to drink and drive at all.
Those strict laws exist because alcohol is an intoxicant. It reduces reaction times and slows the reflexes. It can mess with your attention and even your vision, making you see double.
Just like alcohol and drugs, tiredness can impair your driving abilities. Fatigue can reduce your focus, concentration, awareness, and reaction times. It's in this way that fatigued driving can be a form of cognitive driving distraction.
In addition, the more tired you are, the more likely you may fall asleep behind the wheel, too. This is pretty common, with one in five Canadians admitting this has happened to them.
If you're too sleepy or tired to drive, have someone else who is fully alert drive you home. You can also take a cab or book a ride-sharing service if you don't have anyone to take you home.
Make it a habit to get enough sleep every night, too, so that you have enough energy to drive the next day. Besides, adequate sleep is key to optimal health and living a longer life.
Keep Your Vehicle Maintained
Worn brake pads and improperly inflated tires are accidents waiting to happen. The same goes for broken lights and stuttering or overheating engines.
So, for everyone's safety, always adhere to your vehicle maintenance schedules. Before you head out for the day, check your tire pressure, too, and be sure your horn and all your lights work. Take your car to a mechanic as soon as you notice anything wrong with your ride.
Avoid the Fast Lane
Many accidents that occur on Canada's freeways or expressways happen in the fast lane. After all, vehicle speeds are greater on this lane than on any other road. It may be safe for experienced drivers to use the fast lane, but it's best for novice drivers to avoid it.
Always Check Your Blind Spot
Blind spots are areas of the road that a driver can't see through the side and rear-view mirrors. All vehicles have blind spots, but the taller and the longer the car is, the larger the blind spots. In most cars, though, the largest blind spots are toward the rear area of both sides of the vehicle.
To navigate blind spots, make it a habit to turn your head in the direction you're driving. For example, if you're backing out of the driveway or a parking lot, then you should actually look behind you. Don't just rely on your rearview mirror.
Don't Forget To Use Signal Lights
Always turn your signal lights on before you actually make a turn or change lanes. Doing so gives the other drivers around you enough time to slow down. Keep the lights on until you've gotten over the other vehicles completely.
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, eating while driving constitutes distracted driving. After all, you'd need to use at least one of your hands to eat, which, in turn, can be a manual driving distraction. Having one less hand for driving can make it more difficult to operate your car in an emergency.
Your food can also act as a visual driving distraction, such as if you look at it while unwrapping it. It may only take a few seconds, but it can make all the difference between safe driving and causing an accident.
Texting while driving raises your risk of getting involved in a crash by a whopping 23 times. Talking on the phone, be it hands-free or hand-held, also increases your crash risk by four times.
That's enough reason never to send or read texts or make or take calls when you're driving. If it's an emergency, find a safe spot where you can pull over before you use your phone.
The best way to do this is to avoid all four types of driving distractions. These include auditory, cognitive, manual, and visual distractions. Tune all these out as much as possible whenever you drive.
Auditory distractions are sounds that can draw your attention away from the road. Speaking on the phone is just one example; noisy passengers may also distract you. If you find it hard to concentrate, gently tell your passengers not to be too loud.
Cognitive distractions are those that interfere with your mental acuity and skills. As mentioned above, drowsy or fatigued driving can be a form of cognitive distraction. However, letting your mind wander, such as stressing about work, can also be a distraction.
Manual distractions are those that force you to take your hands off the steering wheel. These take many forms, including texting, eating, drinking, or even operating the GPS.
Visual distractions can be anything that diverts your eyes away from the road in front of you. Looking at your phone, even if you don't actually touch it, is a perfect example.
Some distractions can be a combination of all four types of distractions. A perfect example is receiving and replying to a text message.
Be Extra Careful at Intersections
Previous government studies found that 40% of serious road injuries occur at intersections. The data also revealed that 30% of deaths occur in these parts of the road.
To avoid being part of those stats, slow down before you hit the intersection and take a quick look at both sides. Assume a defensive driving stance to prepare yourself better for drivers who may run a red light. Mind your blind spots too, and pay extra attention to pedestrians and cyclists.
Obey All Signs
Traffic signs and school zone signs exist to make the roads organized and safer for everyone. They warn road users about legal driving limits and hazards.
Always heed and obey these signs and symbols; otherwise, you may cause an accident. At the very least, you may get fined for disobedience.
Never Drive Without Insurance
Auto insurance is mandatory wherever in Canada you may be. In fact, you need to have proof of adequate auto insurance before you can register a vehicle. However, some provinces require more coverage than others.
Car insurance is a necessity not only because it's the law but because it protects you and other people. Your policy can help pay for the repairs on your car or another vehicle if you damage either during an accident. Your insurance can also protect you from legal liabilities if you cause a car accident.
Please keep in mind that driving uninsured or underinsured is a legal offense in Canada. It may not be a criminal offense, but you can face hefty fines if you get caught driving uninsured. It may also result in the suspension of your driver's license and the impoundment of your car.
Help Make Canada's Roads Safer for Everyone
Car accidents, even those that don't cause injuries or property damage, are traumatic. In fact, these incidents are some of the top causes of post-traumatic stress disorder.
So, for your safety and the well-being of others, do what you can to prevent car accidents. Always be a defensive, smart, and prudent driver because it's not only your life that depends on how you drive.
Lastly, don't forget to keep your auto insurance updated! If you're in the market for a new policy, send us a quick note, and we'll bring you the best offers and quotes.