Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP
What strategies can I use to stay safe and polite on the road?

Owning a vehicle is easy, but driving that vehicle safely and responsibly is not that easy — especially considering how many car accidents happen every day on Santa Monica roadways. This is why drivers should take a few minutes to familiarize themselves with common road etiquette, which can help them stay safe — and polite — while preventing car accidents, injuries and deaths at the same time. The following pieces of etiquette should be standard for all drivers, but they are not always adhered to.

First, when it comes to high beam headlights or “brights,” you should only use them when they are necessary. Your high beams can actually blind other drivers who pass you, so they should only be used when you are alone and there are no other drivers coming in your direction or in front of you.

Second, make use of your turn signals. Your turn signals are there for a reason. They are there to let the drivers behind and in front of you know that you will soon slow down to make a turn, or you will soon be moving into another lane of traffic. Use of turn signals also lets pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists know what you are about to do, so they have a better chance of avoiding you.

Third, give the vehicles ahead of you plenty of distance. Tailgating is dangerous because it deprives you of a sufficient amount of time to react and brake if the car in front of you has to suddenly slow down. Considering that humans have a reaction speed that is only so fast, drivers are advised to maintain a 3-second space between themselves and the car in front of them. You can check this distance by counting the number of seconds it takes for a sign to reach your car after the back of the vehicle in front of you passes it.

If you or your loved one suffers injury because another driver causes an accident after failing to follow these common courtesies, the law may be on your side to seek recovery for financial damages in court.

Source:, “8 road etiquette every new car owner should know by heart,” Mark Ferdinand Canoy and Vida Lacano, accessed Sep. 15, 2015

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