We all know that the commuting situation in the DC, Maryland, and Virginia area is highly accident prone, so these tips on how to avoid common accidents when driving should come in handy.

In honor of Drive Safely Work Week 2012, we are following the theme for the last day – Tips to Avoid Common Car Crashes!

In the Washington, D.C. area, with the dangerous drivers, beltway crashes, car accidents on I-270, truck accidents on I-66 and drivers and passengers getting hurt from being rear-ended, T-bone collisions and the aggressive driving we see every day just going to work, we all need safe driving reminders.

So we’ve scourged the web to bring you these useful tips. Though many of these tips seem simple and obvious, they can be life savers in a crisis, so it never hurts to repeat them.

Here are 4 preventative tips, keep these tips in mind every time you drive to ensure that you don’t get yourself into a dangerous situation.

  1. Look as far ahead as possible: By looking ahead you will be able to see potentially dangerous situations as soon as possible, the sooner you realize a dangerous situation is ahead of you, the more time you will have to react.
  2. Remember the 3 second rule: Try to give yourself at least three seconds of space between yourself and the car in front of you, no matter what speed you’re driving. This also gives you more time to react.
  3. Stay focused: By now we know the dangers of texting and driving, but rubbernecking, slowing down to watch another accident, is equally dangerous. Rubbernecking has been cited alongside texting as a major cause for distraction-related crashes according to a study conducted by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). 
  4. Avoid driver fatigue: According to the U.S. National Traffic Safety Administration, 100,000 accidents per year are caused by driver fatigue. According to the Motor Accident commission (MAC), driver fatigue can be just as dangerous as drunk driving or speeding.
  • Stop to rest at least every 2 hours for 15 minutes
  • Share the driving if you can, passengers in the car will also be able to tell you if you’re starting to look tired
  • Don’t rely on coffee or energy drinks, water will keep you hydrated
  • Avoid long drives after work
  • Don’t push yourself

If you’re finding yourself in a dangerous situation, or you see one coming up quickly – we’ve compiled a list of the most common accidents and what to do if you see yourself approaching one. Here’s what to do if:

  1. You get a flat tire while driving: When your tire blows out while driving the sudden pressure change can make the car difficult to control. Your first instinct will be to step on the breaks – DON’T. This will make the car more difficult to control. Stay calm and try to keep steering the car straight while slowly releasing easing off the gas pedal. As the car slows down, ease over to the side of the road and come to a safe stop.
  2. You’re running off of the road: When driving long distances it’s easy to succumb to highway hypnosis and start to edge off the road onto the dirt. It’s natural to feel inclined to quickly swerve back onto the road, again, don’t do this! By swerving quickly back onto the road you put yourself at high risk of rolling your car over. Instead, concentrate on calmly straightening out your car and slowing down to a stop. Once you’ve stopped, pull safely back onto the road.
  3. You’re hydroplaning, or slipping, on a wet road: When you’re driving in the rain, or after the rain, and the roads are slick, your car suddenly starts skidding – what do you do? Don’t slam on your breaks. Instead, turn in the direction of the skid and ease off the gas pedal.

The most important tip we can give you in a crisis situation is to always stay calm and slow down by easing off the gas pedal. And although these tips may not be news to you, they’re important to keep in mind, especially since they go against your first reactions to these common accident situations. The more often you think of these tips, the more likely you are to follow them to safety, instead of your first reactions. Drive safe everyone!