For nearly 20 years, I have represented people injured in motor vehicle accidents. All too often, these accidents and the subsequent injuries were preventable. I would like to share with you 10 important lessons that I have learned, in the hopes that it will help you avoid an accident, or at least a serious injury. I do this in part because some of my clients have asked me to share their experiences with the public. Hopefully, you will be able to avoid going through the needless pain and suffering that my clients endured by implementing these lessons in your driving habits.
1) Wear your Seat belt/Restrain Children in Car Seats.
We hear it all the time. But from 20 years of handling some of Colorado's most injured, there is no question that seat belts and car seats save lives. This is the number one way for you to avoid serious injury for a reason - Because It Works!
2) Riding a Motorcycle? - Wear a Helmet!
At the risk of offending certain riders, a motorcyclist riding without a helmet is a major brain injury waiting to happen. Emergency responders often call un-helmeted motorcyclists "donor-cycles" for a reason. In our field, we see it all the time. Motorcyclists who wear helmets may still incur significant injuries such as broken bones, scars, road rash, and more-but most importantly, they LIVE. Un-helmeted motorcyclists overwhelmingly end up in the morgue or as long term residents at Craig Hospital. It's really that simple - please wear a helmet for your health and for your family.
3) Keep Objects in Your Vehicle Secure.
In an accident, a hand held game, a cell phone or even a book becomes a missile. Put these items in your trunk or glove compartment.
4) Don't Let Your Passenger Lie Down while you are Driving.
Even though front seats recline, no one should ever fully recline their seat while the vehicle is moving. Even back seat passengers should not strap on a seat belt and then lay down in the back seat. In a rear-end collision, a reclined front seat passenger can be propelled into the back seat. This is a cause of spinal cord injury to countless unsuspecting victims each year. Also, seat belts can cause injuries to internal organs when they are restraining a passenger lying down in a back seat. Seat belts are not designed for this type of use, and this misuse can cause major injury. Always remain upright when in a moving vehicle so that all of the safety features of your car can work properly and keep you safe.
5) Stay Off Cell Phones - No More Texting!
In our hectic and fast-paced society, this is probably the most difficult advice to follow. But each year more and more of our practice involves representing people injured by cell phone or texting related car crashes. If you do it, you are going to crash (it's not a matter of "if" - it's only "when"). We know how to prove you were on your cell phone or texting when you are in an accident. So if you do it, you're going to hurt someone and you're going to get caught. Believe it or not, whoever is on the other line can wait for you to get where you are going before hearing back from you.
6) Parents - Don't let your Teens Drive with Teens.
Young drivers get too distracted. It is a recipe for death. Every year I represent families who lose loved ones in crashes involving multiple teenagers in a car. These losses devastate families and communities for years. Tell your children that your rules apply until they leave your house. Stay firm with them. And if that doesn't work, have them call your lawyer (me) so I can explain how dangerous it is. Teenagers simply don't have the experience necessary to be able to drive safely while transporting rambunctious teenage passengers.
7) Don't Let Drivers Through Traffic.
So you're in a traffic jam, and suddenly a man headed in the other direction gives you a signal that he wants you to let him turn left in front of you. You feel like a jerk if you don't let him, right? Actually, you pose a much greater danger to others if you allow him to cross in front of you. After he crosses in front of you, he is also going to cross in front of the driver to your right (he too doesn't want to be a jerk). But then blinded from all of this is the third lane over which is clear because it's a right turn only lane. Many times, a driver in that "right turn only" lane may proceed straight through the intersection anyway. This driver may not see the driver you have allowed to cross in front of you until it's too late. CRASH!! You just contributed to a huge collision. Just say no, it's safer for everyone.
8) Don't Eat While Driving.
I have seen many accidents caused by someone dropping their McMuffin® on their pants and then while trying to recover the fumble, they slam into the rear of an unsuspecting vehicle. We all do it. We all need to stop. Dine in more; drive-thru less.
9) Don't Input your GPS Coordinates While Driving.
This is very dangerous, and every GPS manufacturer tells you not to drive while doing it. Yet, inputting coordinates in a GPS unit while driving has increasingly become the cause of many crashes each year.
10) Avoid Non-Verbal Gestures with Other Drivers
Road rage is deadly. Every year road rage ends in accidents, injuries and death. Put the finger away, don't wave your arms, keep both hands on the wheels, and smile knowing that you won't be another statistic.
In my experience, these ten simple tips would have prevented injuries to 75% of my clients.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we want for you to be the safest driver possible. We hope you will never be the cause of an accident. But in the unfortunate event that you are injured by an unsafe driver, we will work hard to help you through this very difficult time in your life.