Thousands of people get into their cars and drive every single day for their daily commutes, here in Austin, TX. Unfortunately, many car accidents occur too often to not be cautious of your driving and that of your fellow Austinites. The Texas Department of Transportation has estimated that every 74 seconds a car accident occurs on Texas highways, streets and interstates. This statistic is not one that sits well and is incredibly scary. So what can we do to prevent them?

Car accidents can happen for a variety of different reasons; Speeding, following too closely, driving under the influence, distractions within the vehicle, using your cell phone while driving and operating a motor vehicle when you’re tired. Although no one ever intends to get into an accident, or thinks it will happen to them, there are several ways to prevent them from occurring. Here are just a few basic tips on how you can prevent car accidents.

1. Do not speed!

There are speed limit signs for a reason. If you are driving at a fast pace, you are more likely to lose control of your vehicle and get into an accident.

2. Pay attention to your surroundings.

When you are driving, focus on the task at hand; driving and arriving to your destination. Do not follow the car in front of you closely, and be aware of the way your fellow drivers are going about their commute. You want to steer clear of any vehicles that are being careless, to protect yourself.

3. Texting/using your phone while driving.

We all keep hearing the saying “X the text” and it has caught on to many. Texting while driving is such a huge distraction, as you are not paying close attention to the road if you are getting wrapped up in staring at your phone as you type away. You’re not only putting yourself in danger when you do this, but other drivers as well.

Trust me, it can definitely wait. And if you think it can’t, pull your car over (safely of course) and get it taken care of. If you MUST talk on the phone, use a hands free device so that you can put both hands on the wheel for safe driving.

4. Don’t drive under the influence.

Don’t be careless. Not only is this completely unsafe, you run a great risk of hurting yourself or others. Not to mention it is very expensive if you get caught. Just minor things like jail bail, attorney fees, court fees, damage to your driving record (which could increase your auto insurance rates) and much more. This can lead to thousands of dollars. You can also lose your license, which to a lot of us would be a huge inconvenience. Expect potential jail time, and/or probation. Needless to say, it is NOT worth it.

If you must drink, make sure there is a designated driver, or take a cab home. Planning ahead is always your safest option.

5. Running stop signs and red lights.

Once at a stop sign, make sure you come to a complete stop and give yourself enough time to look both ways before proceeding. When at traffic lights, green means go, red means stop and yellow means slow down. Yes, this is stating the obvious, but you want to make sure you are paying attention and not trying to rush through. If a light has turned yellow and you aren’t sure if you can make it before it changes to red, it is best to just slow down and stop. Doing this makes it so easy to avoid any potential accidents.

Unfortunately, not all accidents can be prevented and sometimes things happen. These are only a few tips, but keeping these small things in mind can help prevent future accidents. If we are mindful and follow simple road rules, we can decrease that number and all feel safer about driving.