Car accidents can be caused by a number of different factors. While not all accidents can be avoided, there are some things you as a driver can do to minimize your chance of being in a car wreck. We have addressed distracted driving, passenger safety and general accident avoidance on other pages, but there are other road hazards that also cause accidents each year.
Road debris causes an estimated 25,000 crashes and 80-90 deaths every year. The most frequent debris is from shredded tires, but car parts, hay bales, light poles and signs, metal debris, trees and branches are also common. In Alabama, over 92% of debris related accidents result in property damage only, 7.4% in injuries and .2% involve fatalities.1
It’s fairly easy to avoid debris when it is already on the road, you have a clear view of the debris and you are paying attention to the road. But ask yourself: if an 18-wheeler shredded a tire or a large box flew out of the back of a pickup truck in front of me, what would my options be to avoid the debris without involving another vehicle in the accident? You might not be able to avoid the debris, but it’s better to hit it than to cause a multi-car pile-up in your attempt to avoid it.
If you are involved in a car accident caused by road debris that resulted from another’s negligence (i.e., failing to secure a load they are transporting, failure to maintain tires in good condition, etc.), you may be able to recover damages. If the accident results in an injury or death, you should speak to an attorney to learn your rights.
Hydroplaning occurs when the road is wet and the vehicle’s tires actually lose their grip on the pavement–some people refer to this as waterskiing on four wheels! Hydroplaning is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of control of the vehicle. The amount of water on the road, type and condition of the tires on your car and your driving speed all come into play to determine if or when you will hydroplane.
You will limit your risk of hydroplaning if you slow to 30 mph or less on rain slick roads, brake softly, avoid sharp turns and try to drive in the tracks of the car in front of you.
If your car does hydroplane, immediately take your foot off the gas. Once you feel the tires grip the road again, steer in the direction you want to go and brake gently. To learn more, watch this video from ABC and Consumer Reports.
Most of us learned about safe stopping distances in drivers’ education classes. Unfortunately, many drivers do not allow enough following distance to avoid rear-ending the car in front of them if that driver stops suddenly. The Alabama Department of Public Safety recommends that drivers follow the two-second rule in wet or dry conditions:
“To use the two-second rule, choose a fixed object on the road ahead (such as a sign post, tree, overpass, bridge abutment, etc.). When the vehicle ahead passes that object, begin to count “One thousand one, one thousand two.” If you reach the same object before you finish saying “one thousand two,” you are following too closely and should gradually slow down until you’ve reached the safe following distance.”2
It is also important to remember that trucks–especially if fully loaded–require more distance to stop. Do NOT cut in front of a truck without a great deal of distance. You can refresh your memory regarding Alabama driving rules and requirements by reviewing the current Drivers’ License manual.
Most drivers understand that driving is a privilege, not a right. There are, however, some drivers who are extremely aggressive. These drivers may speed, tailgate, and weave in and out of traffic without signaling and without sufficient clearance. This aggressive driving behavior can result in a car accident.
If you encounter an aggressive driver, the best thing you can do is try to avoid this individual. If he or she is behind you, maintain the posted (or safe) speed and do not respond to his/her actions. Call 9-1-1 if it is safe for you to do so.
If you are involved in an accident with an aggressive driver, call 9-1-1 to report the accident and let the dispatcher know that the other driver’s behavior is aggressive.
Lock your doors and remain in your vehicle until the police arrive.
You can find helpful downloads about what to do if you are in a car accident here:
Our Alabama car accident lawyers handle all automobile accident cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge you a fee until and unless we make a recovery for you. Click here to download our Special Report and learn what you should ask a potential attorney before hiring one.
If you or a loved one has suffered a personal injury contact our experienced and dedicated Huntsville Alabama car accident attorneys. The evaluation is free and confidential.
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