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11/6/2012 - Avoiding fender benders

Drivers should try to telegraph their intentions to avoid accidents.

In commuters' haste to get to work, it is not uncommon for motorists to get a bit ahead of themselves. In fact, as the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety points out, rear-ending is one of the most common types of crashes and auto insurance claims in the country.

With this in mind, NETS offers a few safety tips for how motorists can avoid accidents like these.

1. Following distance is key. Perhaps one of the most important things to do is to leave plenty of room. NETS says that it is important to have a following distance of approximately three to four seconds, and to add on a few seconds when weather conditions are slippery.

2. Look ahead. While motorists should be focused on what's directly front of them, it's crucial to have an idea of what is approaching. Thus, NETS says motorists should try to look about eight to 10 seconds ahead of them, which is about one-third of a mile. This will give drivers the time they need to adjust their speed if necessary.

3. Try to limit brake use. Though applying the brakes is the most obvious way to slow down, drivers should not have to use the brakes too often. NETS says that if commuters are scanning ahead effectively, braking should be minimal, and even when they are used, they shouldn't need to be jammed on to come to a stop or avoid something. Proper brake application is an effective way to conserve gas as well, which is an expense that doesn't come cheaply these days.

4. Telegraph intentions. Another precautionary way in which to avoid rear-ending a vehicle is by being predictable. Fellow commuters often respond in traffic situations based on how a driver signals what they're about to do. Thus, if about to come to make a turn, signal early so that the motorist behind knows the intention is but not so early that it suggests a different turn may be taken.

While these tips can help drivers avoid minor traffic accidents, recent statistics suggest major collisions have occurred with greater frequency. Through the first half of 2012, traffic fatalities have increased 9% from last year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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