Keeping Yourself Safe from Distracted Drivers

Distracted driving is incredibly dangerous, yet people do it anyway. It's very hard to stop because most people believe they won't get in an accident -- even if they know what the statistics tell them about the dangers. They'll often try to hide it and their actions may not come to light until they cause an accident.

To stay safe yourself, you need to spot distracted drivers and keep your distance. Watch out for the following warning signs:

  • Someone whose speed changes often and for no reason
  • Someone who is going faster or slower than the flow of traffic around the car
  • Someone who keeps drifting from one side of the lane to the other, perhaps leaving the lane entirely
  • Someone who sits at a stop sign or a traffic light longer than needed; for instance, a texting driver may not move when the light turns green

These examples help you know what to watch out for, along with the obvious: Looking over and seeing another driver on the phone. You must always keep your eyes on the road and the cars around you. When drivers start making consistent mistakes indicating they are not paying attention, the odds are good they got distracted by phones, music, friends, the GPS or something else in the car.

Now what?

Of course, spotting a distracted driver is just the first step. What should you do after you identify the danger?

First off, you should never try to stop the driver or their behavior on your own. For high-risk situations, find a safe way to call the police. For instance, have a passenger make the call or pull over and call yourself. An officer can conduct a safe traffic stop. Do not engage the driver and risk a very dangerous situation -- and potential road rage.

Always drive as if that person did not see your car and has no idea you are there. Assume the driver will make mistakes, like merging into your lane. Keep your distance, either by dropping back or passing the other driver. On multi-lane roads, pick the lane farthest from the distracted driver.

Keep both hands on the wheel and one foot near the brakes. Your reaction time could save your life. Get ready to take evasive action. If necessary, identify different escape routes you can take in the event of a crash. Remember that a distracted driver could hit someone else and cause a chain reaction accident.

Your rights

When even these safety tips do not prevent an accident due to a negligent, distracted driver, make sure you know all of your legal rights to seek out financial compensation for lost wages, medical bills and more.