How to Protect Yourself in a Multi-Vehicle Accident
As California continues to get battered by record rain storms, there is a risk of severe multi-car crashes on the road. You may wonder how to protect yourself from getting involved in one.
Once a chain-reaction accident starts, it can be impossible to avoid further crashes, so it is crucial to recognize the risk factors for a pileup to prevent it from happening. Experts said multi-vehicle collisions tend to occur when driving conditions are impacted by sudden weather-related changes such as fog, rain, and snow.
Tips to Prevent a Multi-Car Collision
Below are tips on preventing a multi-car pileup and what to do if you can’t avoid one.
- Slow down: It can be challenging for drivers to see hazards ahead when visibility drops. Vehicles, even those with all-wheel drive, need more distance to stop on snow and ice. Slowing down in bad weather is essential to give yourself more time to react.
- Follow the three-second rule: Maintain as much space around your vehicle as possible. Look ahead down the road for a fixed object, such as a sign or telephone pole, and start counting as soon as the car in front of you passes the object. For normal weather, it should be at least three seconds. However, experts recommend counting eight to ten seconds in hazardous conditions.
- Watch your rearview mirror: While it is essential to watch the road ahead, it is equally important to see what’s behind you. If another car is tailgating you, change lanes immediately, adjust your speed, and do whatever you can to let that driver pass. Knowing a vehicle is riding your rear bumper can determine what action to take if you see an accident ahead. If you’re being tailgated and come up on stopped traffic, do not suddenly brake because it can potentially cause a chain reaction behind you. It is better to change lanes or move onto the shoulder.
- Watch other cars around you: In dangerous weather conditions, you must concentrate fully on driving and be aware of where vehicles are around you. You may have to decide to hit the brakes or change lanes to avoid an accident. The extra awareness could be the difference between preventing a crash or causing a pileup.
- Adjust your speed: Modulate your speed so that you are not driving alongside other vehicles. If the driver next to you loses control, they can hit you. That is especially true when sharing the road with large commercial trucks. Tractor-trailers can jackknife and take out multiple smaller vehicles in their path.
- Don’t make sudden moves: Small changes in speed or direction can cause a loss of control when the road is slippery. If you are going fast, let your foot off the gas instead of hitting the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can cause the car to skid, and you can lose control by oversteering.
- Know your vehicle’s ability. Do not confuse your vehicle’s ability to stop in an emergency with its ability to accelerate. This is true for all-wheel drive or four-wheel cars, which experts said tend to get drivers into trouble. While a two-wheel-drive car may sometimes slip on snowy or icy roads, a four-wheel-drive vehicle is more likely to stay pointed forward. However, that can give motorists a false sense of security. Experts said four-wheel cars can’t stop any better, yet could be going much faster. They said no matter how good the tires are, all vehicles have the same four points of rubber touching the ground.
- Minimize the damage: You can still take control of the situation even if a collision is inevitable. If your car skids and causes you to lose control, use the brakes cautiously to slow down and try to steer the vehicle into a soft object, such as a bush or a guardrail, instead of another car.
- Stay in your car: The natural instinct is to get out of your car after an accident. However, it is best to stay put. A two-car collision can quickly involve three or more vehicles. Your car is likely the safest place because it offers you and your passengers more protection. There are numerous incidents where people were killed after getting out of the car and walking around the accident site. Leave your seatbelt on, turn on the hazard lights, and wait for the collisions to stop. Even in stressful moments after a crash, take a deep breath and evaluate the situation.
- Move to the front of the accident: It may be necessary to exit your car if it catches fire. If that happens, get out of your vehicle, run toward the front of the crash, and then pass it. Don’t stand between two cars where you could get crushed. Don’t stand in front of a guardrail, a concrete barrier, or on the shoulder because that’s where other drivers could end up when they try to avoid the pileup. If the collision occurs on a bridge, get away from the flow of traffic because ongoing crashes can push you over the railing.
Future Technology Can Prevent Multi-Car Crashes
New technology in the future may be able to prevent chain-reaction collisions. Vehicle-to-infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication could allow cars to talk to each other and get real-time traffic on the road. If an accident is ahead, your vehicle may know when to start braking, even if you can’t see it yet. How your car reacts and communicates essential information can instantly be shared with other drivers. But until this technology is available, motorists will need to remain vigilant.
Watch the YouTube video below to learn about the four technologies that could prevent your next car accident.
Sacramento Personal Injury Attorney
I’m Ed Smith, a personal injury attorney. Were you recently injured in a crash? Please call our top-rated accident lawyers at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400 for free, friendly, and no-obligation advice. You can reach us online too.
Having someone by your side who can fight for your rights is crucial. Since 1982, our experienced legal team has helped injured Californians obtain maximum compensation for their personal injury and wrongful death cases.
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