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Defensive Driving to Survive a Car Accident

Surviving a Car Accident

A car accident can happen anytime, anywhere and to anybody, even to good drivers with safe driving habits. Whether you may see an accident coming or may be blindsided by it, what you do before, during and after the crash can help save your life.

Before a Car Accident


The best way to survive an auto accident is to avoid it altogether.  The following tips can help you stay safe before there’s any danger in your path.

Wear Your Seatbelt

The best thing you can do to survive a crash is to always wear your seatbelt. In an accident, a seatbelt can make a difference between life or death. Seatbelts can help minimize severe injuries and deaths by about half. Be sure to place the lap belt below your hip bones and the shoulder belt across the center of your chest.

Drive a Safe Car

Every year, automakers continue to make cars safer by introducing new features like lane departure warnings and automatic braking. When you’re looking to buy a car, pay attention to the safety features. Whatever car you choose to drive, be sure you understand the standard and safety features, including the location of your airbags and whether you have an anti-lock braking system.

Stow Loose Items

Loose items such as a laptop, a can of soup or an overnight bag can be dangerous during a serious car crash. These items may seem harmless, but they can become a projectile, hitting you or your passengers when flung across your car at a high rate of speed.  Travel light by removing all unnecessary items from your vehicle every time you get home. However, if you must travel with things that could become dangerous, stow them in your trunk, in the space behind your seat or in a covered back storage area. It’s important to note that any unsecured passenger or pet are also potential projectiles.

Have an Emergency Kit

It’s wise to keep a first aid kit or an auto survival tool in your car for emergency situations. Keep a seatbelt cutter or a glass breaker in your vehicle so that you can use it to break your window or cut your seatbelt to escape if necessary.

During a Car Accident


A car accident can happen so fast that you may not have time to make any adjustments. However, if you can see it happening and have the chance to act, the following tips can help you minimize the severity of the accident and prevent injuries or death.

Stay in Driving Position

Vehicle safety systems are designed to protect you in a normal driving position. Ducking or hunching can make your injuries worse. When you duck, you can hit your head on the steering wheel or dashboard. Hunching or putting your arms in front of the steering wheel could put you too close to the airbag if it deploys. Staying upright is the best protection from serious injuries.

Use Your Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS)

Many cars today are equipped with anti-lock brakes. The ABS will pump the brakes faster than you can to slow down your vehicle. If you have to quickly brake, just hold your brakes firmly and let the system pump your brakes for you. You’ll know it’s working if you feel the pedal vibrate. The ABS works best if your tires are pointed straight forward.

Slow Down or Speed Up

Speeding is one of the key factors in a car accident. The faster you are traveling, the more significant the impact during a crash. If you see an accident happening, do your best to reduce your speed. However, in some situations, speeding may be the better choice. It may be necessary for you to speed up and get out of the way to avoid the accident.

Stay in Control of Your Car

If you feel that your car is starting to skid, stay calm, keep a firm grip on the wheel and steer in the direction of the skid. Don’t brake or press the gas pedal until your tires regain traction.

Aim for the Least Dangerous Object

If you can’t avoid hitting something, steer your car toward an area that will do the least damage. For instance, if you have a choice between the bushes or oncoming traffic, aim for the bushes. Do your best to avoid a head-on collision with another car or running into a concrete barrier.

After a Car Accident


You may not be out of danger, even after a car accident has happened. Fire and rubbernecker injuries that are not yet apparent can still occur. The following tips can help you stay safe.

Call 911

Call for help as soon as you can. This will get emergency personnel out to treat you immediately and clear the accident.

Stay in Your Car

The safest place to be after a crash is in your car with the seatbelt still fastened. Getting out on the highway can put you in grave danger. If there is no moving traffic and it is safe to leave, then do so, but the best place may be inside your vehicle.

Prevent a Car Fire

Turn your engine off and refrain from smoking. In case the accident may have caused a gas leak, leaving your car running or smoking can cause a car fire.

Use First Aid

If you have sustained any injuries, use your first aid kit to attend to the injuries until help arrives.

Get Out to Safety

If your car is on fire or has landed in the water, you will need to get out as soon as possible. It is more complicated if you’re in the water. Try to get out as soon as your car hits the water. Opening your window immediately will give you a better chance to escape. It will be difficult to open your door because of the water pressure. If you can’t open your window, use a safety tool or your foot to break the side windows. Don’t waste your time breaking the windshield since it is designed to withstand the impact.

Safety is everything when it comes to driving. However, sometimes a car accident is unavoidable. By knowing how to act before, during and after a crash can put you in the best position to get out alive.

Watch YouTube Video: 15 Defensive Driving Secrets That Can Save Your Life. This video provides 15 best defensive driving techniques that can help you stay safe during an accident.

Sacramento Car Accident Lawyers

I’m Ed Smith, a car accident lawyer in Sacramento. A car accident can happen when we least expect it. If you or a member of your family has been hurt in a car accident, call me today at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice

I am a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and of the Top One Percent, a National Association of Distinguished Counsel.

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Photo by,,  Taras Makarenko on Pexels,

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