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Preventable Accidents Part 2: The Definition

Definition of a Preventable Accident

Our objective is to reduce accident frequency rates by trying to prevent them. The National Safety Council’s definition of a preventable accident is: An accident in which the driver failed to do everything reasonable to prevent it.

Defensive driving is driving to prevent accidents, in spite of the incorrect actions of others or adverse weather conditions. Anticipate driving hazards and know how to protect yourself from them. Be alert while driving by keeping your mind free of distractions and your attention focused on driving; alertness involves watching and recognizing accident-causing factors instantly. The professional driver has foresight, the ability to size up traffic situations as far ahead as possible. The driver must anticipate traffic problems that are likely to develop and decide whether these developments could be dangerous.

Many drivers fail to understand why they were given a “preventable” for an accident when they were no legally at fault. A “preventable” accident is one in which you fail to do everything you reasonably could have done to prevent it. Even though the driver cited with a preventable accident did not violate any traffic laws, the professional driver should have seen or anticipated the incorrect actions of the other driver in time to prevent the accident from occurring. However, you may also learn the valuable lessons that near misses offer and make the necessary adjustments in your driving habits.

As a defensive driver, you must operate your vehicle in a manner to avoid contributing to an accident or being involved in a preventable accident. Awareness of the vehile’s limitations is essential; pre-trip checklists and inspections can familiarize you with the vehicle and point out things that might need attention.

Are “right turn squeeze” accidents preventable? Usually they are. Block off that right lane and pull forward a little farther to complete your turn, after traffic clears. Practice those turns correctly instead of just “getting around the turn”. Slow-down in adverse conditions (i.e. weather, road, light, vehicles, obstructions). Slowing down allows for much shorter stopping distance. It also allows you more time to see everything and to make correct decisions. Keep as much space as possible between your vehicle and others. Do not assume “right of way”; the other vehicle may not yield. Merge at on-ramps; do not force your way into traffic. Likewise, when someone is trying to merge, slow down and let them in because they might not merge correctly; that might involve you in an accident that you can usually avoid. Additional items to think about:

Non-Collision-Such as overturning, jack-knifing, or running off the road

Mechanical Failure-Any accident caused by mechanical failure that could have been detected in pre-trip inspection

Parking-Unconventional parking locations, including double parking and failure to put out warning devices

Weather-Failure to adjust driving to the prevailing weather conditions

Intersections-Failure to approach, enter and cross intersections safely

Backing-Failure to check all clearences

Front-end Collisions-Failure to maintain safe following distances

Rear-end Collisions-Failure to alert the driver behind by slowing down gradually and signaling to change lanes or turn

Passing-Failure to pass safely

Being Passed-Failure to yield to the passing vehicle by slowing down or moving to the right where possible

Pedestrians-Failure to be alert about pedestrians

Passenger Accident-Emergency action by driver to avoid a collision that resulted in passenger injury

Turning-Failure to signal and properly position the vehicle for the turn

Grade Crossings-Failure of a driver to be aware of surroundings

Opposing Vehicles-Failure to slow down, stop, or move to the right to avoid an accident

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