We all know traffic in Southern California can be rough at times. With so many people driving and trying to get to their destination quickly, accidents are bound to happen. Every time an accident does happen, it affects everyone around it. There is no worse feeling than being in a fender bender or any wreck for that matter.
Unfortunately, if you’ve never been in an accident, it’s hard to know what to do. Being a trusted Orange County car accident lawyer, we’ve all seen that! That’s why we’re going to talk about ways to stay safe on Orange County roads as well as how to handle accidents in case you get into one.
Here are some road safety tips to keep safe on Orange County roads:
Pay Attention to Signage
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Road signs communicate important information to drivers, such as when they are approaching a hazard, a change in traffic flow or how to navigate the road.
Drivers should pay attention to all road signs they see while behind the wheel and obey them. For example, if you see a sign that tells you that your lane is ending and you need to merge into another lane, make sure to do so safely.
You might also come across road signs that tell you about speed limits and other regulations of the road. Make sure to obey these restrictions to avoid being ticketed for committing a traffic offense or causing an accident.
Take Into Account Poor Weather Conditions
Poor weather conditions and the resulting wet or icy roadways can make driving dangerous. Make sure you check the weather forecast before heading out on your trip and adjust your plans accordingly if heavy rain, fog, or snow is predicted.
If you’re already out on the road and it begins to rain heavily, slow down and turn on your lights. Turn off cruise control as well; sudden changes in speed caused by poor visibility can cause an accident. Allow extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you so that if that vehicle must brake suddenly for whatever reason (poor visibility, another car braking), you will have enough time to do so as well.
It’s best to drive below the posted speed limit when it is raining heavily; much like a diver who increases his or her depth gradually to avoid getting bends, it is best for drivers to decrease their speed gradually rather than suddenly stopping short in order to avoid hydroplaning into another vehicle or going off-road into a ditch. Make sure to turn on your windshield wipers and defroster while driving; fogged windows can obscure your view of other vehicles around you as well as objects directly in front of your car.
Stay Off Your Phone
It is illegal to text and drive in Orange County, but it’s also just a good idea, in general, to not be on the phone while driving. To keep your family safe and your road trip enjoyable, it’s important that you focus on the road while driving in Orange County.
If you are pulled over for talking or texting on your phone while driving, it could result in you being fined up to $20 for just the first offense. In addition to fines, you may have points assessed against your driver’s license. If you are under 18 years old and caught using a cell phone during driving hours, you will face more severe penalties such as having your license suspended for one year and the possibility of being placed under informal (in other words: probationary) supervision if this isn’t your first offense.
The best way to avoid these penalties is not to use a cell phone at all while behind the wheel. You can avoid using your cell phone by turning it off before starting up the car or turning down the volume so that incoming calls won’t be heard as easily. If someone texts or calls you asking where you are or if there is an emergency, pull over somewhere safe before responding to them so that you don’t get into trouble
Avoid the Left Lane
If you make it a point to pass on the right, you’ll avoid two serious dangers: You’ll avoid cutting off someone who might lose control and crash into you, and you’ll also avoid being rear-ended by a car that is following too closely. It just makes sense!
And if someone does follow closely when you go to pass on the right? Well, then slow down some more so that they can get around — because their behavior is dangerous, too.
And remember, the left lane isn’t just for faster traffic. It is also for merging traffic, emergency vehicles, exiting cars and anyone going the speed limit or above. So if someone is doing any of these things in the left lane while you are trying to travel at a slower speed in the right lane… well, let them be! Don’t try to block them or race alongside them; just enjoy your own drive at your own pace.
Only Adjust Settings When the Car is Stopped at a Red Light
It’s easy to get distracted when you’re trying to change the radio station or look up a different GPS route. However, it takes only a split second of not looking at the road for an accident to occur. It’s imperative that your eyes stay on the road at all times, so use voice commands and other features in your vehicle to avoid distractions.
Put Your Seatbelt On As Soon as You Get into the Vehicle and Keep It On
One of the best things you can do to stay safe on Orange County roads is to put your seatbelt on as soon as you get into the vehicle and keep it on until you exit the car. Seat belts save lives every year, so getting in the habit of wearing one when you are in a moving car is very important.
This includes all of your passengers, too! Remember that seatbelts are also required in the back seats. It may seem like an inconvenience to buckle up, but it’s much better than being injured or killed if you were ever involved in a traffic accident.
Leave Early and Allow Extra Time to Get to Your Destination
Planning ahead and being patient is the key to staying safe on Orange County roads. It should be a rule of thumb to leave earlier than you need to and give yourself extra time to reach your destination, so you can avoid rushing.
Rushing and congestion are two leading causes of road rage, which can lead to crashes, injuries and death. Give yourself enough time before an appointment or big event. This will save you stress from being late. Make sure that you plan your route ahead of time so that you can avoid construction zones or other known traffic issues as well.
Take responsibility for your safety on Orange County roads by putting these tips into practice.
Take responsibility for your safety by putting these tips into practice. First of all, don’t count on other drivers to keep you safe. In fact, it’s usually the other driver that causes an accident in the first place. Next, don’t put your safety in the hands of a police officer or government official. They aren’t there to protect you from harm, but instead are tasked with enforcing traffic laws and keeping streets free from debris and potholes respectively.
Author Atty. Lem Garcia
Lem Garcia founded Lem Garcia Law in 2014. It has become one of the fastest-growing and most well-respected personal injury law offices in Southern California, having recovered millions of dollars for clients. He received a journalism degree from California State Polytechnic University in Pomona and loves to share personal injury law with the world via the social media platform TikTok at over 20,000 subscribers.