Modern cars are equipped with more safety features than ever before, including better seatbelts, better airbags, and design features that reduce the impact of collision. However, car accidents are still notoriously common, and if you’re involved in one, it could easily lead to injury or death. 

There isn’t much you can do to prevent an accident caused by someone else, but there are many steps you can take to reduce the likelihood of your involvement in a collision. 

Simple Steps to Reduce Your Car Accident Risk

These are some of the easiest measures you can take, but collectively, they could dramatically reduce your rate of being involved in a car accident: 

1. Avoid intoxication. Driving under the influence of any drugs is going to increase your likelihood of being involved in an accident. Alcohol, one of the most commonly consumed intoxicating substances, will reduce your reaction times, interfere with your vision, and perhaps most importantly, cause you to overestimate your own abilities. If you’re intoxicated, even slightly, don’t take the risk of driving. 

2. Reduce speed. Follow all posted speed limits; they’re there to guide you to safer driving habits. In fact, consider reducing your speed even further, so long as you aren’t interfering with the flow of traffic. Lower speeds give you more time to react to unexpected changes on the road. They also decrease the chances of injury or death if you do end up involved in a collision. 

3. Increase following distance. When dealing with other cars on the road, increase the distance at which you follow them. The general rule is to follow no closer than 2 seconds behind another vehicle, and to increase that following distance under poor conditions. Increasing your following distance gives you more time to react to the driver in front of you, reducing the chances of a collision. 

4. Prepare for (or avoid) inclement weather. Weather conditions can negatively interfere with even the best drivers. Falling snow, rain, and fog can prevent you from seeing far ahead of you, and wetness or icy conditions can make it harder to control your vehicle. In an ideal world, you’d avoid these harsh conditions altogether. When you must drive, take extra precautions to drive safer. 

5. Eliminate distractions. One of the most common causes of modern car accidents is distracted driving; when you take your eyes off the road for even a second, an unexpected change in road conditions could lead to an accident. Accordingly, you can improve your driving safety by managing (and ideally eliminating) your distractions responsibly. For example, you can turn your phone off while driving, or keep it in the glove compartment so you aren’t tempted to use it. You can avoid multitasking, like eating or putting on makeup while driving. And you can practice focusing on the road ahead of you, instead of various things in your surroundings. 

6. Follow posted signage. This should be an obvious tip, but it’s one that many people selectively neglect. Pay attention to all signs and follow them precisely—even if you think you can get away with avoiding them. For example, come to a complete stop at all stop signs, even if nobody else is around, and yield whenever you’re instructed to yield. These minor forms of compliance can seriously increase your safety. 

7. Keep your car in good condition. It’s important to inspect and maintain your car on a regular basis, getting an oil change at least twice a year and repairing any minor mechanical problems as proactively as possible. All it takes is one rogue problem with your car to reduce your ability to control the vehicle. 

8. Watch for others. Just because you’re driving safely doesn’t mean other people will drive safely. It’s on you to watch for other people, and assume they may be driving irresponsibly. For example, keep an eye out for speeders and other reckless drivers, and avoid them however you can.  

Taking Extra Precautions 

Even if you’re the safest driver on the road, there’s still a chance you could be involved in a car accident unpreventably caused by someone else. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself, and reduce your chances of death or injury even in these cases. For example, you can wear your seatbelt; when unrestrained, you are 47 percent more likely to die in a car accident. You can also keep your hands at the 9 and 3 position on the steering wheel, to avoid the risk of an airbag injuring your arms and face, and keep your steering wheel adjusted so it’s pointed between your chest and face. Stay cautious, and always take protective measures when you can.