Car accidents are all too common. In the United States, you’re likely to be involved in one at least every 18 years. For most of us, that means we may be involved in as many as three or four collisions across our lifetimes. While certain measures can be taken to prevent accidents from occurring, sometimes it is just a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you or your loved one ends up in such a crash, especially a head-on collision, the results can be tragic. Follow these seven tips to stay safer should you find yourself in such an accident:
1. Buy (and Use) Safety Features
When you’re buying a car, what do you look for? Perhaps you’re eager for a sleek, trendy style, or have your heart set on a certain piece of technology on board. While those considerations should be taken into account, it’s crucial to look at safety features, too. Whenever possible, you should buy the safest car your budget can buy. Take the time to understand how crash tests work and what the resulting scores really mean. If you can up the odds of surviving a head-on collision just by buying one car over another, why wouldn’t you?
2. Wear Your Seatbelt
While this tip might seem like common sense, you’d be surprised at just how many people forget to buckle up when they get into the car. For some people, seatbelts just aren’t a priority. They’ve been around for so long that we often take them for granted. Before their invention in the 1950s, though, driving was considerably more dangerous. When we forgo seatbelts in modern cars, we open ourselves up to serious risk, especially when head-on collisions occur. Whether you’re in the driver’s seat or just riding shotgun, head-on collision injuries can have life-altering consequences. A seatbelt can’t prevent such a crash, but it can help mitigate some of the injuries commonly sustained in accidents.
3. Fit Your Seatbelt Properly
Even if you’re wearing your seatbelt, you can still find yourself seriously injured if it doesn’t fit correctly. Most cars allow you to adjust the height of your belt. Make sure your seatbelt crosses your chest and doesn’t restrict your neck. Failure to free your neck from your seatbelt can mean painful injuries in a collision. If you struggle to adjust the belt enough, you may need to look into buying a seatbelt adjuster. These devices help ensure that the belt is kept over your chest and away from your neck.
4. Keep Your Hands on the Wheel
Another seemingly common sense suggestion could actually save your life. Most people drive with two hands, but most people also relax at the wheel and end up, at one point or another, driving with only one. In a head-on collision, if your wrists are limp or bent, your hands could end up shoved against the steering wheel, causing your wrists to break. Do your best to keep your arms, wrists and hands in alignment when driving, so you can avoid breaking bones in a crash. Even better, you’ll be more responsive and defensive at the wheel, which greatly decreases the odds of getting into a wreck in the first place.
5. Adjust Your Headrest and Seat
Most of us adjust our seats for comfort, with no real thought given to safety. Many don’t realize that the more contact your body has with your seat, the safer you’ll be in a head-on collision. That means it’s worth the extra minute or two to adjust your headrest and seat accordingly. Ideally, you’d have the headrest about two inches behind your head and no taller than the top of your head. This can seriously decrease the odds of experiencing whiplash in just about any crash scenario.
6. Sit Back from the Steering Wheel
We’ve all seen people hunched over their steering wheels in traffic. In addition to just looking silly, this practice is actually dangerous. Airbags save lives, but when deployed, they can cause injury if a person is too close to the steering column. To ensure you’re a safe distance from the wheel, push your shoulders back into your seat. Then extend your wrists to rest gently at the top of the steering wheel. Any closer and you increase your odds of being seriously hurt by a deploying airbag.
7. Drive Defensively – and Pay Attention
The best way to avoid injury in an accident is to avoid one altogether. We often grow a little too comfortable in our daily commutes, but driving defensively is one of the best ways to keep safe on the road. Paying attention is also crucial; with more distractions present in our lives than ever before, it’s admittedly tough to ignore the pinging of our devices. Resist the urge to answer that text, though, and you’ll keep yourself and everyone else on the road a little safer.
No matter which tips you plan to implement in your driving routine, take the time to be a little more mindful of the ways your habits could impact you in a head-on collision. Just being thoughtful about the ways we’re impacted by such habits can help you ensure a safer ride every time you get behind the wheel.