According to the NHTSA, approximately 42,915 people died in car accidents last year. That's a 10.5% increase from the previous year.

With traffic accidents on the rise, how do you keep yourself from becoming a statistic? Unfortunately, accidents happen, but there are ways to mitigate your risk of being in an auto accident.

Whether you're an experienced driver or are new to the road, following safe driving tips and avoiding driving distractions can help reduce your risk of a serious collision.

Here are some helpful tips for being a safe driver on the road.

Stay Sober

This should go without saying, but, unfortunately, people die from crashes involving drunk drivers every day. Alcohol reduces your ability to focus and concentrate on the task of driving.

It impairs your reaction time and reduces your coordination. Alcohol lowers your natural inhibitions, which increases your chances of making bad decisions.

Driving under the influence encompasses more than just driving drunk. This includes marijuana, opioids, and any drug that can impair your ability to drive.

Don't put yourself or others at risk. If you plan to drive, avoid alcohol and other harmful substances.

Be Cautious With Medications

Many prescription medications can affect your ability to drive. If you're taking prescription medication, know what the side effects are and how the medication could affect your driving.

Some medications can cause drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness, or other issues that could impair your driving. If you're taking more than one medication, be aware of the potential side effects of combining these medications.

Using prescription medications in conjunction with alcohol can be a deadly combination. If you're unsure about the side effects of your medications, talk to your doctor.

Drive Defensively

An aggressive driver risks their own life and the lives of others. Aggressive drivers may try to tailgate other drivers, flash their high beams at other drivers, and even initiate contact with other drivers on the road.

In contrast, a defensive driver is aware of their surroundings and attempts to mitigate the risks of an accident. Defensive driving involves staying proactive on the road.

Qualities of defensive drivers include:

Aware that other drivers are unpredictable
Aware of other drivers and what they're doing
Keeps a safe driving distance between their car and the car in front

If you need driving tips to become a more defensive driver, there are in-person and online defensive driver courses available. Some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers who complete a defensive driving course.

Avoid Assumptions

No one can predict what another driver will do. You may have an idea of what you would do in a particular situation, but you can't be sure another driver will react in the same way.

For example, a driver may have their turn signal on, but may not turn at all. Always exercise caution as you back out of the driveway, veer into traffic, or cross an intersection.

It's nice to assume other drivers are courteous and will follow safe driving laws, but you can't predict the actions of any driver. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings at all times.

Pay attention to the drivers around you and always expect the unexpected.

Maintain Your Vehicle

Regular maintenance is about more than just extending the life of your vehicle. It's about keeping you safe on the road.

With proper maintenance, vehicles last longer and keep you safer. It's a good idea to have your vehicle inspected each year or every other year.

Something simple like having adequate tire pressure can prevent a blowout and a serious accident. Maintaining your vehicle doesn't have to be expensive.

Preventative maintenance can catch minor issues early and prevent costly repair bills down the road.

Consider the Weather

The weather can impact your ability to drive safely. Heavy rain, fog, snow, and ice can all make roads more dangerous and increase the chances of an accident.

Remember to take extra driving precautions in bad weather conditions. If you're concerned about the weather, consider:

Delegating driving responsibilities to a more experienced driver
Maintaining extra space between your car and other vehicles
Adjusting your speed to accommodate the weather conditions
Exercising patience in the event of delays
Putting off driving until weather conditions clear 

No trip is worth putting your safety at risk. If there is flooding, do not attempt to drive.

The depth of water can be deceiving. Water is incredibly powerful, and even a foot of water can sweep a car away. 

If you see any flooding, stop and turn around.

Remove Distractions

In our fast-paced world, distractions are everywhere. A good place to start is by putting your phone away while you drive.

Silence your notifications and avoid looking at your phone while you're on the road. If your phone has a driving setting, use it.

The temptation to text or use your cell phone while driving is real. Turning it off and avoiding it on the road could save your life.

Beyond cell phones, there are many other potential driving distractions to contend with. These include:

Loud music
Talking to people
Changing radio stations 
Eating while driving
Applying makeup while driving

Anytime you can avoid distractions and keep your focus on the road, you and your passengers are safer. 

Follow Safe Driving Tips on the Road

Although some accidents are unavoidable, there's a lot you can do to lower your risk of having a car accident. Following safe driving tips can help you be a better and safer driver.

Nothing is more important than arriving at your destination safely.

If you love traveling and adventure, be sure to check out the fun and informative articles on Anna Marie John's A Travel and Lifestyle Blog.