Every day, thousands of people in the U.S. are injured in traffic accidents. While it’s tragic that so many people have their lives disrupted while travelling, the U.S. is still one of the safest places in the world to drive. One of the reasons why is because the U.S. has many rules and regulations for operating a motor vehicle.
These laws are pretty streamlined across the country. The best way to prevent injuring yourself or others while driving is to practice defensive driving. Overall, defensive driving means that you are proactive, observant, and considerate of other drivers. To stay safe on the roadways, from a traffic law attorney, here are five traffic law basics you need to know before you get behind the wheel.
1. Follow Basic Traffic Laws
The most basic traffic law you need to follow to stay safe is to observe and obey the speed limit. Excessive speed is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents in the U.S. The speed limit tells you the maximum safe speed you can travel on that particular road for its terrain and design. Streets that are narrow, windy, or in densely packed urban areas will have lower speed limits assigned to them than freeways and straight, country roads.
2. Observe the Weather
Dry conditions and daylight are some of the safest times to drive. You can safely travel at the maximum allowed speed limit for these conditions. But if it’s raining, the road is wet, icy, or covered in snow, or it’s dark or foggy outside, you need to slow down. You can get ticketed for driving at unsafe speeds for the conditions.
3. The 3-Second Rule
The 3-second rule states that your vehicle needs to be at least three seconds behind the car in front of it. Your car should pass a stationary object next to the road at least three seconds after the car in front of you passes the object. Remember, 3-seconds is the bare minimum if conditions are ideal. If it’s dark, foggy, or raining out, you will want to maintain a farther distance.
4. Comply with Inspection and Insurance Requirements
Some states require you to carry insurance and to have your car inspected annually by a licensed mechanic. Vehicle inspections ensure that your vehicle is in optimal working condition. Your brakes and seat belts will be checked, and the car will also be inspected for any fuel leaks. Insurance also protects your assets from seizure if you were to cause an accident. Insurance can also help you recover your lost wages or even pay for your medical expenses if you were to be injured in a car accident. Also, keep in mind that failing to carry insurance or get your vehicle inspected can result in fines. It may also result in other tickets that can hurt your finances or prevent you from driving.
5. Always Yield to Aggressive Drivers
Defensive driving can really be summed up in two words, ‘be patient.’ Unfortunately, there are a lot of people on the roadways who practice aggressive driving techniques, either out of ignorance or impatience. They will tailgate, swerve, unsafely merge in front of you or fail to yield the right-of-way. Sometimes, these drivers will become hostile on the road. They may follow you or hurl abuse at you from their windows.
If you find yourself confronted with an aggressive driver, always yield to them. You do not want to antagonize them or participate in their aggressive actions. If this happens to you, slow down, and allow them to drive away from you. Aggressive drivers are a serious problem, and up to 66% percent of all traffic fatalities are directly linked to aggressive driving techniques. And 37% of aggressive driving incidents involve a firearm. Never engage an aggressive driver.
To stay safe on the road and enjoy your time behind the wheel, always practice defensive driving techniques and obey the traffic laws in your state.