How To Avoid The Most Common Types Of Auto Accidents

White vehicle crashed on front left side

Los Angeles County saw 62,707 auto accidents in 2018, leading to 90,721 injuries and 741 deaths, according to UC Berkeley data. Los Angeles County had 6,711,897 licensed drivers in 2018, meaning there was approximately one auto accident in the county for every 200 licensed drivers in the county.

The possibility of getting in an accident is an unfortunate reality every time you get behind the wheel of an automobile. Auto industry experts say that the average driver will get into an accident once every 18 years.

You can, however, reduce your risk of getting in an accident by knowing the most common types of accidents and how to avoid them.

The most common types of accidents in Los Angeles County in 2018 were:

  • Rear-end – 19,953 accidents
  • Broadside – 18,568 accidents
  • Sideswipe – 7,534 accidents
  • Vehicles striking pedestrians – 4,918 accidents
  • Head-on – 4,506 accidents
  • Vehicles striking objects – 4,035 accidents
  • Rollovers – 977 accidents

How To Avoid Rear-End Accidents

Rear-end accidents are typically caused by driver error. Heed the following tips to avoid being involved in rear-end collisions:

  • Keep three seconds of space between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Keep extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you when roads are wet or icy.
  • Focus on the road. Many rear-end collisions are caused by distracted driving.
  • Obey the speed limit. Speeding increases the chance you will need to brake suddenly, and increases the chance you won’t be able to stop in time to avoid a collision.
  • Check your rear-view mirror often so you’re always aware of tailgaters.
  • Change lanes when being tailgated or pull over and let tailgaters pass when it is safe to do so.
  • Avoid slowing down or stopping too quickly when you can. Steady, smooth braking gives those behind you extra time to avoid running into you.
  • Look at least 15 seconds in front of you so you can steadily and smoothly brake well in advance of hazards and give those behind you time to do the same.
  • Keep your vehicle in gear when stationary in traffic in case you need to suddenly move out of the way of a vehicle rapidly approaching from the rear.
  • Frequently check to ensure that your brake lights work properly.

How To Avoid Broadside Accidents

Broadside collisions often occur in intersections. Make sure to do the following to avoid getting in broadside accidents:

  • Carefully scan intersections before entering them when the light turns green or after stopping at a stop sign.
  • Wait 2-3 seconds before entering an intersection after the light turns green or after stopping at a stop sign in case anyone runs a red light or stop sign.
  • Scan incoming traffic before turning left through traffic.
  • Scan the nearest oncoming lane for left turners when approaching an intersection.
  • Stop at yellow lights instead of speeding through them. Oncoming left turners may assume you will stop, and you can T-bone them if you don’t.

How To Avoid Sideswipe Accidents

Crushed van - totaled in accident

Many people think sideswipe accidents are minor accidents, but they can lead to massive damage to vehicles and terrible injuries. These accidents often occur at highway on-ramps, on multiple lane highways, and on narrow roads.

The bulk of the damage and injuries in sideswipe accidents don’t come from the initial impact itself but the impacts that can follow once a sideswipe causes a vehicle to lose control.

The following practices can help you avoid getting in a sideswipe accident:

  • Merge onto highways carefully and deliberately. Match your speed with the speed of other drivers on the highway and pick a spot to merge into ahead of time while you’re still on the ramp instead of at the last second.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Keep plenty of space between yourself and aggressive or swerving drivers. Always check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes.
  • Change lanes slowly and deliberately, and always use your turn signals.
  • Give large trucks plenty of space. Sideswipes often occur when truck drivers don’t notice smaller vehicles in their blind spots. Give trucks plenty of space to change lanes whenever you see their turn signals.
  • Don’t speed. Speeding may cause you to lose control of your vehicle and leave your lane, leading to a sideswipe.
  • Don’t drive while drowsy. Drowsy drivers often drift out of their own lane and this can cause a sideswipe collision.

How To Avoid Striking Pedestrians

Avoiding pedestrian accidents is one of your primary responsibilities as a driver, since the consequences for any pedestrian you strike can obviously be fatal. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your speed down when driving in areas with pedestrians. This will give you more time to react should a pedestrian cross your path.
  • Watch for signs which can tell you that you’re in an area with a lot of pedestrians. Examples of signs like this are school zone signs and bus stop signs.
  • Make eye contact with pedestrians. Pedestrians will want to make eye contact with you before crossing the street so they know you see them. Potentially deadly confusion can be avoided by simply making eye contact.
  • Be careful around school buses. Children don’t always look both ways before running into a busy road.
  • Be extra careful when the weather is poor. Give yourself extra time to stop by slowing down if the road is slippery or visibility is poor.
  • Don’t drive around vehicles who are stopped at stopwalks.
  • Always look both ways twice before driving across a sidewalk.

How To Avoid Head-On Collisions

Common accident - head-on collision

Tremendous forces are generated in head-on collisions, so you definitely want to avoid these potentially deadly crashes. Tips to consider are:

  • Swerve to the right when trying to avoid collisions. Swerving to the left puts you at risk of getting in a head-on collision.
  • Always look for signs such as “DO NOT ENTER” and “WRONG WAY” signs.
  • If you see an oncoming vehicle in your lane, brake, use your horn, flash your headlights, and, if necessary and possible, attempt to dodge the vehicle by moving to the right, not the left.
  • Pass vehicles with care. If there’s even a fraction of a doubt whether you can complete the pass before oncoming traffic arrives, don’t attempt it.
  • Don’t drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The most common cause of head-on collisions is drunk driving.
  • Reflectors on the road can often alert drivers they’re going the wrong way. Reflectors will be seen as yellow or white when you’re going the right way, and red when you’re going the wrong way.

How To Avoid Striking Objects

Striking an object with your vehicle is usually the result of losing control of your vehicle. The following practices can help you avoid losing control of your vehicle:

  • Drive at an appropriate speed for the weather conditions. It is common to lose control of your vehicle and strike an object when you are driving too fast on icy, wet or snowy roads.
  • Drive at an appropriate speed around curves. Loss of control of the vehicle is common when trying to navigate turns at too high of a speed.
  • Check your tires regularly to make sure they have adequate tread. Stick a penny into your tire’s tread with Lincoln’s head pointing down. You need new tires if you can see the top of his head.
  • Avoid puddles or pooled water as these can cause you to hydroplane.
  • If you feel yourself hydroplaning, don’t panic. Don’t slam on your brakes or turn suddenly. Ease your foot off the gas until you regain control. Carefully steer in the direction you want to go.

How To Avoid Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents are some of the deadliest accidents. They’re especially common in SUVs, which have high centers of gravity. To avoid rollover accidents:

  • Don’t speed. 40% of fatal rollover accidents are the result of speeding, according to the NHTSA. Take special care not to speed around curves.
  • Regularly check your tire tread as well as your tire pressure. Inadequate tire pressure can increase the chances of a rollover accident.
  • Limit heavy loads when driving SUVs. Heavy loads can raise the already high center of gravity of an SUV even more.
  • Avoid rapid movements, such as strong, sudden turns, when driving SUVs.


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