More than 1,500 people died on Georgia roads in 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation. That is an average of four deaths per day.
Staying safe behind the wheel requires our full attention. If we avoid distractions and drive carefully, we will greatly increase the odds of safely arriving at our destination. Here are five important defensive driving tips that will reduce your odds of being in an accident.
1. Stay alert.
The most important tip is to simply stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. Avoid drowsy driving. In today’s fast-paced world, sleep deprivation is an issue that negatively affects our health and ability to focus. Few things are more dangerous than falling asleep at the wheel. Fatigue significantly reduces our perception and reaction times.
2. Put down your phone.
It is illegal to hold a cellphone while driving in Georgia. This is the direct result of an increase in traffic fatalities linked to drivers being distracted by their mobile devices. Go hands-free, and set your phone to “airplane mode” while driving.
3. Use a designated driver or ride share service.
There is no excuse to drink and drive. The deaths caused by intoxicated drivers are entirely preventable. Plan ahead if you intend to consume alcohol away from home. Designate a driver or use Uber or Lyft. The cost of a ride share service is exponentially less than the fines associated with a DUI or the liability you may incur in a civil lawsuit.
4. Use your turn signal.
If other drivers can’t tell that you are changing lanes or exiting the roadway, they may not be able to react in time. Using a turn signal should be second nature when you’re turning at a traffic light or stop sign, but it’s crucial to use your turn signal to indicate that you’re merging lanes on any street, especially busy roadways like I-75 and Cobb Parkway.
5. Keep your distance.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported 385,221 car crashes in 2015. A large portion of these crashes involved rear-end collisions. Make sure to follow other cars at a distance that gives you enough time to react if they make an unexpected lane change or decelerate rapidly. Keep your distance to keep your family safe.
By Joel Williams, contributing writer and managing partner of Joel Williams Law.