As you embark on a new year behind the wheel, it’s time to buckle up and steer your driving habits in the right direction. But where do you start? Well, we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll unveil five essential resolutions specifically tailored for South Carolina drivers.
Whether you’re looking to minimize distractions, update your insurance coverage, or prioritize the well-being of motorcyclists, we’ve got the tips and advice you need to navigate the roads with confidence. So, get ready to rev up your resolutions and make 2024 a year of safer and more secure journeys. And before you hit the road, remember to download our tips for what to do if the worst happens, and you are in a car accident, and to put it in your glovebox (just in case).
To stay safe on the roads this year, South Carolina drivers, it’s crucial to prioritize avoiding distractions while behind the wheel. Minimizing disruptions and enhancing your focus are essential to ensuring your safety and the safety of others on the road. One effective strategy for eliminating multitasking and promoting mindfulness is to engage in distraction-free driving practices.
Distraction-free driving begins with minimizing disruptions inside your vehicle. Start by silencing your phone and placing it out of reach to resist the temptation of checking notifications or messages. Adjust your mirrors, seat, and climate control settings before starting your journey to prevent the need for adjustments while driving. By taking care of these tasks beforehand, you can maintain your focus on the road.
In addition, implementing distraction-free driving strategies can greatly reduce the risk of accidents. Avoid eating, drinking, or engaging in activities that take your attention away from the road. If you need to attend to something urgent, find a safe place to pull over before doing so. Remember, your safety and the safety of others should always be your top priority.
Keep in mind that distracted driving is not just a safety issue, it’s a legal liability issue. Allowing distractions from things such as phone notifications or texting while driving can not only be negligent, but can be evidence of recklessness that might support an award of punitive damages.
Consider reassessing your insurance carrier and policy limits to ensure that you have adequate coverage for your driving needs. Start by comparing policies from different insurance providers. Take the time to review the coverage options they offer and determine if your current policy still meets your needs. It’s essential to update your coverage as necessary, especially if your driving habits or circumstances have changed.
Don’t be afraid to shop around and explore other insurance carriers. You might find a better deal or more comprehensive coverage elsewhere. Take advantage of online resources and tools that allow you to compare quotes easily. By doing so, you can ensure that you are getting the best coverage at the best price. But don’t make money the only consideration – carriers’ treatment of claims and reputation with lawyers in your community is an often overlooked consideration.
Additionally, it’s crucial to review any discounts that may be available to you. Insurance companies often offer various discounts that can help you save money on your premiums. These discounts could include safe driver discounts, multi-policy discounts, or discounts for having certain safety features in your vehicle. Make sure you are taking full advantage of these opportunities to reduce your insurance costs.
Lastly, consider your liability limits. Liability insurance protects you in the event that you cause an accident and are held responsible for injuries or damages to others. It’s important to have sufficient liability limits to protect your assets in case of a lawsuit. Review your current limits and consult with your insurance agent to determine if you should increase them.
Also, make sure that insurance policy includes underinsured coverage. Underinsured coverage pays you if another driver who has insurance causes an accident, but the other driver’s coverage is not sufficient to cover all of your losses. Underinsured coverage is optional in South Carolina, but it does not add much to the cost of your premiums and should be included in every policy.
Reevaluating your insurance carrier and policy limits is just the first step towards being a safer driver in South Carolina this year, but another important aspect to keep in mind is to watch for motorcycles on the road. Motorcycle awareness is crucial for both the safety of motorcyclists and other drivers. As a driver, it is your responsibility to practice defensive driving and be aware of your surroundings at all times.
Motorcycles can be easily overlooked due to their smaller size, so it is essential to regularly check your blind spots before changing lanes or making turns. Always use your mirrors, and be extra cautious when merging or passing motorcycles. Remember, motorcycles have the same rights as any other vehicle on the road, so it is important to treat them with respect.
Sharing the road with motorcycles means giving them enough space and allowing them to maneuver safely. Avoid tailgating motorcycles as they may need to stop suddenly. When following a motorcycle, maintain a safe distance to provide ample reaction time. Also, be mindful of their speed, as they can accelerate and decelerate faster than cars.
Motorcyclists should always wear safety gear such as helmets, protective clothing, and boots. As a driver, you can help keep them safe by being aware of their vulnerability and giving them the space they need.
Make sure you obey all traffic laws to ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road. Following traffic laws is crucial for maintaining order and preventing accidents. Always pay attention to traffic signals and follow their indications. Stop when the light is red and proceed when it turns green. This simple act of obeying traffic signals can prevent collisions and keep everyone safe.
Another important aspect of following traffic laws is adhering to the speed limit. Speed limits are set for a reason – to ensure the safety of all road users. Excessive speed not only increases the risk of accidents but also reduces the time you have to react to unexpected situations. So, always drive within the posted speed limits and adjust your speed according to the road conditions.
Wearing a seat belt is another important traffic law that you must follow. Seat belts save lives and protect you in the event of a crash. Make it a habit to buckle up every time you get in a vehicle, regardless of the distance you are traveling. It only takes a few seconds and can make a significant difference in the event of an accident.
Additionally, always prioritize pedestrian safety and give them the right of way. Pedestrians are more vulnerable and have less protection than motorists, so it is important to be mindful of their presence. When approaching a crosswalk, slow down and yield to pedestrians. Be patient and allow them enough time to cross the road safely.
Keep in mind that the laws not only keep you and others safe, but they also can play an important role in legal claims after an accident. There’s a concept called “negligence per se” where, if someone breaks a law or rule and that broken law causes harm to someone else, they are legally considered to be negligent “in and of itself,” and therefore responsible for the damages. This is often used in traffic accidents, where the driver who broke the law is automatically considered to be careless.
However, it’s not as simple as “broke law, held liable.” Several cases highlight that in order for the driver to be deemed negligent in and of itself, the infraction must be the direct cause of the injury.
The cases of Wise v. Broadway, Fairchild v. S.C. Dep’t of Transp., and Spencer v. Kirby both hold that a driver is negligent per se when violating a traffic law in South Carolina. In Wise, the majority opinion states that “The causative violation of a statute constitutes negligence per se and is evidence of recklessness and willfulness.” Similarly, in Fairchild, the court held that “the violation of a statute constitutes negligence per se, and negligence per se is some evidence of recklessness and willfulness that requires submission of the issue of punitive damages to the jury.”
But, in Spencer v. Kirby, the court stated that “The violation of an applicable statute is negligence per se, but in order to prevail, defendant must go further and show that the violation contributed as a proximate cause to the injury.”
Overall, the authorities suggest that a driver is negligent per se when causing an accident because of a traffic law violation in South Carolina, but that the violation must be the proximate cause of the injury in order for the driver to be found negligent per se.
To ensure the safety of yourself and others on the road, maintaining regular vehicle maintenance is essential. By staying on top of basic maintenance tasks, you can significantly reduce the risk of accidents and breakdowns. Start by regularly checking your tire pressure. Properly inflated tires not only improve fuel efficiency but also provide better traction, ensuring a safer driving experience. Additionally, don’t forget to schedule regular oil changes. Fresh oil keeps your engine running smoothly and prevents costly repairs down the road.
Brake maintenance is another crucial aspect of vehicle upkeep. Have your brakes inspected regularly and replace worn-out brake pads to ensure optimal stopping power. It’s also important to check your battery regularly, especially during the colder months. A weak battery can leave you stranded, so make sure it’s in good condition and replace it if necessary.
Lastly, don’t overlook the importance of maintaining your windshield wipers. Clear visibility is essential for safe driving, especially during inclement weather. Replace worn-out wiper blades to ensure they effectively clear your windshield, providing you with a clear line of sight.
Auto maintenance may also factor into liability issues. South Carolina statutes requires proper maintenance of various vehicle components such as brakes, windshield wipers, and tires. Failure to properly maintain these vehicle components in safe working order may be negligence per se if it leads to an accident.
As you embark on this new year, remember that the road ahead is full of twists and turns. By making these resolutions, you are equipping yourself to navigate safely, protect yourself and others from accidents, and minimize your liability. Avoid distractions, protect yourself with the right insurance, watch out for the vulnerable, follow the rules, and maintain your vehicle. Together, let’s make 2024 a year of secure journeys on South Carolina’s roads.
And if you or a loved one have been in an accident already, now is the time to get help. We offer free consultations in injury accidents and would love to sit down with you and give you some peace of mind.