3 Ways to Avoid or Survive Traffic Collisions
February, 2019 - Issue #173
courtesy of shutterstock
courtesy of shutterstock

It's estimated that over 6 million traffic accidents occur in the United States each year, with more than 90 people dying in car accidents daily. With those kinds of statistics, it makes sense that we should do everything we can to reduce our risk of accidents, injury - or worse.

"As a personal injury attorney, I see the tragic results of poor decision making every day. While some accidents are truly that, very often they are caused by negligence. Being safe, smart and courteous doesn't just protect you from a lawsuit - it makes you a better, kinder citizen... someone we should all work to be," says Gerald L. Marcus, of The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus.

Here, Gerald shares important reminders that can help all of us stay safer on the road.

1. Buzzed Driving, Texting while Driving & Driving while Tired is like Drunk Driving - don't Do It
While it might not be illegal, since your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the California legal limit of .08 percent - buzzed driving has been shown to be nearly as dangerous as drunk driving. A review of over 570,000 traffic fatalities showed that drinking and operating a vehicle with any alcohol in your system is dangerous and leads to an increase of more-severe accidents.

The same can be said for texting while driving. The National Highway & Transportation Administration says that the impairments between the two are similar, with texters behind the wheel having a 23 percent increased chance of causing a traffic collision. That's about the same statistical chance for drivers throwing back four beers, then stepping on the gas.
And if you've ever nodded off while driving, you know that being behind the wheel while fatigued is risky business. In fact, missing a night's sleep and then operating a vehicle is similar to driving with a BAC of .1 percent - over the legal limit.

The takeaway? Call a rideshare like Uber if you've had anything to drink, are in the midst of an epic text stream or haven't gotten good sleep - otherwise, the risks are just as high as driving drunk.

2. "Click It" to Avoid a Ticket & Serious Injuries or Fatalities
You know that you need to wear a seatbelt - and in California, most of us do. The good news is that seatbelt use saves nearly 15,000 lives a year. The bad news is that of the 37,461 people killed in a motor-vehicle accident in 2016, 48 percent of them were not wearing seatbelts. It's estimated that nearly 2,500 of those lives could have been saved simply by buckling up correctly.

And - that's a big part of the problem. Improper seatbelt use, like putting the cross-over strap under your arm, puts you at increased risk of injury in the event of a crash.

Here's how to correctly wear your seatbelt. Make sure that the cross-over shoulder belt is away from your neck and across your chest, ideally in the middle of your chest. There should be no slack. The lap belt should sit snuggly across your upper thighs, not your stomach. If you're pregnant, the lap belt should be placed securely below your belly, fitting snuggly across your pelvic bone and hips.

When it comes to kids, don't rush to get them out of their car seats and boosters - no matter how much they beg! Keep your children in their protective seating systems until they outgrow the weight/height limits or are large enough to fit properly in your vehicle's belt. Remember: All children should ride in the back seat of your vehicle for maximum safety, moving to the front at 13 or older.

3. Adjust your Seat for Safety
To ensure the best control of your vehicle, you need to be comfortable within it.

Adjust your seat for leg length, height (A big restrictor on visibility when improperly adjusted!) and arm reach.
Your arms should be slightly bent when gripping the wheel; if they're straight, you'll have much less control when you need to act quickly. You'll need to move your steering column up if your leg hits the wheel or column when lifting your leg to apply the brake. Test the height of your seat to ensure that you can see out the back window as well as your blind spots.

If, even after taking these precautions, you are involved in an accident - don't take any chances with your health and wellbeing. Even "minor" accidents can cause severe injuries which may take time to physically present. Get checked out by a qualified physician at your first opportunity. If you are injured, you should consider contacting an experienced injury attorney.
Gerald L. Marcus is the founder of The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus, a client-focused firm that specializes in aggressive representation for injury victims. The firm works on contingency; no fees are collected unless the client receives compensation.
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