A Master List of California Safe Driving Tips, Tricks and Practices

family pretending to ride in car

To Start, Focus Is Everything

Focused drivers help to prevent motor vehicle accidents. These drivers are aware, alert and free of distraction. California drivers must heed the rules of the road while maintaining an alert state of mind. Follow these tips to be a careful driver and to help keep the roads safe.

Be alert, awake, and aware.

When someone is about to drive, they must make sure they are in an awake and alert state of mind. Being an alert driver is an essential factor to getting behind the wheel safely. Drivers must be aware of their surroundings, and focus on the road ahead.

People must pay attention to other drivers, since they may not be paying attention to the road. It is important to be the defensive driver that is able to analyze potentially dangerous situations and road conditions. By being proactive and focusing on the road, drivers are helping to prevent motor vehicle accidents.

Prepare accordingly for a trip.

Prepared drivers know where they are going, and have their passengers under control. To be a safe and prepared driver, make sure the destination is already in the GPS before the trip begins. Be certain that passengers will be respectful and will not contribute to any distracted driving. If there are children traveling in the car, make sure their needs are taken care of before heading out onto the road.

Minimized distractions will help the driver to stay focused and mindful. This ensures that a driver is in protected conditions for the duration of the ride, and can get to their destination safely.

Don’t multitask.

With everyone’s busy lives, it is easy to get caught up in multitasking while driving. However, it is important to remember that safety comes first. Multitasking while driving may seem effortless, but in reality it is a leading cause of motor vehicle accidents. People who have their attention split between the road and their phone are causing the road to be unsafe.

Texting and driving has become a significant issue that everyone must be aware of, and take action to prevent. People are killed nearly every day due to the new trend of using a cell phone while driving. Accident prevention starts by practicing safe driving habits that keep people focused and ready to be defensive drivers.

Prevent Fatigue

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says that drivers can take a number of steps to reduce the likelihood of being fatigued while driving. For example, you should be aware of any signs that you are dangerously tired, such as increased yawning, and watch out for any medicines that may make you drowsy. Moreover, you should be aware of how risky it can be to rely on coffee or another alertness tactic to avoid falling asleep at the wheel. You can also avoid driver fatigue by ensuring that you get the right amount of sleep each night and even by eating healthy.

Securing Passengers, Children and Pets

Children and pets can be very distracting as they don’t particularly care if you are attempting to merge onto a highway or complete a right turn through a pedestrian crossing zone. Keeping your dog in a harness and child in a proper safety seat can keep the everyone properly secured from distracting you as well as being ejected or tossed around the vehicle if you are in a sudden collision with another vehicle or object.

Securing Your Pet

A properly fitted safety harness should allow the dog to breathe and rest comfortably, while restrain the movement of the dog to prevent him or her from being tossed around or out the cabin. An unrestrained dog within the cabin could easily become a hazard as the physics of a car collision takes over quickly and turns your best friend into a projectile of potential head, neck or back injury waiting to happen. The force of your dog getting slammed into you, another passenger or the surrounding seats could easily be fatal for you or your dog and at speeds that we drive cars, you have no way of reacting fast enough mid collision. Additionally, if your dog is ejected from the car and survives, your dog is now at risk of being run over by surrounding traffic as your dog attempts to navigate the treacherous and terrifying world of motor vehicle traffic. When it comes down to it, securing your dog ultimately is your responsibility and necessary for the safety of both you and your best friend.

Practice Proper Child Seat Safety

Abiding by the car seat laws is the most important part of keeping children safe while on the road. Parents cannot always attend to their children while driving, so it is important to secure children in the proper car seats before beginning a trip. Be sure to have the proper car seat for your child and abide by the California state law. Keep in mind the following tips for child safety in a vehicle.

Purchase the proper car seat.

Make sure that your child has the proper car seat for his or her age and weight. There are various different types of seats that will support your child properly. Installing a car seat the right way ensures maximum safety for your child. Be wary of the installation process and make sure that the seat is sturdy and is effectively installed to support the child properly. Child safety begins with the proper foundation of a high quality car seat that supports and protects children.

Change the car seat at the right time.

Be sure to change your car seat at the proper time to ensure that your child is supported. The right fit for a car seat is extremely important and can protect the child in the event of an accident. Make sure the car seat is rear-facing until the child is two years old. This will help to protect the child’s head, neck and spine in the event of an accident.

Buckle up, it’s the law.

Buckle in your child using the safety seat belts on the car seats. Be sure that this is completed before beginning a trip. Take time to buckle up properly to protect your child. Abide by the California state law to help ensure maximum safety in your vehicle.

Calibrating Your Driving According to Weather Conditions

Vehicles behave much differently in the cold weather vs warm. For cold conditions, it is important to make sure the car is warmed up before starting a road trip, no matter how far you may be traveling. By warming the car up, this gives the engine a chance to defrost if it has been outside in the cold, and will make the vehicle operate smoothly.

Although many people simply get in their car, start up and go right away, this is not a best practice of operating a motor vehicle. Allow only about 10-30 seconds for the car to warm up before you venture out on your journey. This small amount of time will help your vehicle heat up for a better ride. Never warm up the vehicle in an enclosed space such as a garage. Make sure the vehicle is outside warming up before beginning the trip.

Avoid using cruise control in inclement weather conditions.

Cruise control can be a convenient feature in a vehicle, however it should never be used in cold, wet or icy weather conditions. If a vehicle travels the same speed for a long period of time in the rain or snow, water retention will build on the tires and it will be easier for the vehicle to hydroplane, or for the driver to potentially lose control of the vehicle. Drive cautiously in the rain and snow, and slowly alternate speeds to avoid water build up on the tires.

Check your car’s battery to be sure it is functioning properly.

When the temperature drops outside, this can cause issues with car batteries. It takes more battery power to start up vehicles in the colder weather. Check to make sure your car’s battery has sufficient voltage in order to avoid dangerous situations on the road. It is also important to have the charging system and volts inspected before driving around in the cold weather.

Staying Safe on the Roads at Night

Car Accidents at night tend be more dangerous for all parties involved. As the number of daylight hours shrinks and the time Los Angeles drivers are operating in the dark grows, drunk, fatigued and drivers with limited vision cause more traumatic accidents due to decreased reaction time before a collision. For everyone’s safety, it is important to remember to adjust your driving habits to account for changes in road conditions. In this post, I want to discuss some habits you can build upon to develop better nighttime driving technique.

  1. Scan the road ahead. It is easy to be caught looking at one area of the road when shapes and colors are not easily defined on the road ahead. Oncoming headlights can temporarily blind you and inebriated drivers may behave unconventionally on the road. For these reasons, it is always important to keep your eyes moving across the road, scanning for potential dangers. Here in Los Angeles, many residential streets could use additional illumination to protect pedestrians as well as wildlife and pets that find themselves on the road. To account for the reduced visibility, you may need to drive significantly slower to give yourself ample time to react.
  2. Slow down entering curves. In decreased visibility, depth perception also decreases. Slowing down on the entry to each curve give you more time to react to objects that may be closer than you first thought. Additionally, this gives you more time to react to people or objects highlighted by your headlights. For example, at the start of the curve, your headlights point directly ahead while the road curves away from the focus of the light.
  3. Have your eyes routinely examined. This piece of advice is not specific to driving at night but it can help your nighttime driving experience exponentially. Straining your eyes at night can develop problems for your eyes and worsen your ability to drive at night. Routine eye exams can prevent numerous diseases from spreading and wreaking havoc in your body.

Apart from defense driving practices and proper focus, there are tools, items and car technology that can assist your efforts to avoid collisions, crashes, and negligent drivers.

5 Things Safe Drivers Should Always Carry In The Car

If you are involved in an accident, stranded on the side of a highway or in an unfamiliar neighborhood, you should always have certain comforts and tools to help get you back on the road faster. To help you all get started, our firm decided to create a list of the 5 things drivers should always keep in their cars, regardless of where driving.

First is water. Staying hydrated is critical to good decision making and staying calm under pressure. Some bottled water for guests and a sports bottle for the driver ensures that occupants are comfortable during our rides. It is a simple practice, but I know that my friends appreciate it. If our vehicle was involved in a collision somewhere we could not easily access water, keeping water available to share with anyone injured in the accident is vital. Be sure to keep any water you have in your car free of contaminants.

It’s good practice to never leave home without some source of navigation. For most drives, map applications on a phone will work or the navigation on a built-in car system. It is important to remember that these applications should be operated entirely hands free while driving. Many people have injured our firm’s clients while looking down to check their route or estimated time of arrival. If you are planning to go somewhere in which a wireless signal is out of range or you plan on off-roading, you may need to bring a dedicated GPS unit, pre-download your Google Maps or employ a paper map to navigate.

In my car, there is always a roadside kit. My roadside kit has a flashlight, a small set stacking traffic cones and small socket wrench with adapters. Accompanying my roadside kit is my spare tire fitted with a tire jack and lug wrench. While most rarely have to use a roadside kit, having it ready when in dire need of it is a powerful feeling.

As we’ve worked with 1000’s of victims injured in car accidents, I know the risks associated with driving. As such, I always drive with an accident kit stocked with first aid gear and a pen and notepad. The pen and notepad may seem outdated, but it is a great tool for recording witness statements. Contact information is most likely best saved in your phone for ease of access and recognition. Additionally, you can use a phone camera to take photos of the accident to document the scene. That said, if you do not know how to properly use your first aid gear, a good recommendation is that you take a class. The knowledge gained during your first aid class may just save someone’s life.

The last thing I want to make sure that everyone has in his or her car is a maintenance log and owner’s manual. This should include all the work that has been performed on the car by yourself or a mechanic. If your car breaks down on vacation, you should want to show the mechanic working on your vehicle all the work that has been performed on your vehicle. The owner’s manual is fantastic resource to help you understand how your specific vehicle operates.

These items are a great start to ensuring you and your passengers’ safety on the road during regular drives as well as preparing for the worst such as a car accident.

Old Car, New Safety Tricks

Cars are flooding the market with safety features aimed at correcting mistakes or alerting the driver to hazards on the road. As autonomous driving becomes a closer reality, many of the features used to keep the car within its own lane or detect other surrounding objects can be used to help drivers practice safer driving techniques. However, many older vehicles don’t have these life-saving features, forcing many car owners to decide between their safety and spending their savings on a newer and safer vehicle. Fortunately, those choices can be made with less financial pressure as companies are producing aftermarket safety kits.

What Can I Add To My Vehicle?

Backup cameras, blind spot, lane departure warnings and even forward collision detection are all features that can be bought and installed on many older vehicles. While the assistive braking is not available with these aftermarket products, the ability to take these new technologies and seamlessly add them to vehicles that lack these options could be potentially lifesaving. According to studies, 90% rear end collisions could be entirely avoided with 1.5 seconds of advanced notice. In many cases, that aftermarket warning device could prevent minor and major accidents like whiplash injuries, lacerations, head trauma and maybe even prevent a loss of life on the roadway. While the consumer must do the research to determine what device and features fit his or her needs, it is certainly worth investigating.

You Took Every Precaution, But Still Ended Up in a Car Accident

No matter the type of accident, it is imperative to determine who is responsible for the accident and who will be held liable. It may be obvious to those involved but this is irrelevant until evidence is provided that supports your arguments and your claims. To make a stronger argument these are the factors that can help in backing your claims:

  • Police reports: Police reports are considered official documents that provide detailed information regarding the accident. They also hold the officer’s opinion on who should be held liable as well as the circumstances in which the accident took place. This is why police reports are generally considered the most important piece of evidence to support an argument because it is an official document from a recognized law official that details their opinion about the accident.
  • Amending a police report:  If there is a mistake in a police report and you recognize it you can get it amended easily if the error was factual for e.g. wrong license plate no but if the amendment is regarding contested information then it is very difficult to get it amended but not impossible.
  • Traffic laws: The traffic laws for the state are the rules by which drivers must abide and if you can show that you were following the laws while the other driver wasn’t then this is very strong evidence to support your argument and puts you in a very strong negotiating position.
  • No fault car accident: In these scenarios, it is abundantly clear whose fault the accident is thus there is no argument and little discussion and deliberation in the processing of the case.
  • Rear end accidents: If you are hit from behind in an accident it is almost always the case that the collision was the fault of the trailing driver and this can be used to give you a very strong arguing position as it is the responsibility of the driver to keep a safe distance between their car and the car in front. There are cases where the driver in front might also share the blame by not using the correct indicator or having broken rear lights in that case they are still liable but you also share liability in the form of contributory negligence.

Proving fault in a car accident case can be very confusing thus it is highly recommended that you contact an experienced attorney with a strong history of representing injured accident victims.