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Defensive driving tips to avoid car crashes

You can't avoid all car accidents. Let's start there, because it's important to realize that even great, careful drivers get into accidents thanks to the mistakes others make. It's a constant risk that you face if you have to drive for work or for any other reason.

That said, there are steps you can take to make an accident less likely. Defensive driving can help you avoid some accidents and keep yourself safe. Here are a few tips to keep in mind.

1. Look 10 seconds in front of your car

Keep your eyes up and on the road far ahead of you. Don't just look a few feet in front or watch the back of the next car. You need to be ready to react. A lot of times, you can see hazards well in advance and slow down far before an accident is likely.

2. Never assume a traffic light protects you

A traffic light gives you the right of way, but it's just a light. It doesn't stop anyone from driving through. Never pull out blindly, trusting the light. Look for people who may run the red.

3. Do assume other drivers will make mistakes

It's similar to the above: Always assume someone else will make a serious driving error. Take nothing for granted. If they don't, you're safe. If they do, you're ready. Remember that your life is in someone else's hands when you drive near them. Don't trust that driver.

4. Never make maneuvers that cut it close

If you have to gun it to pull into traffic safely, maybe that's not enough distance after all. Drive slowly and carefully when turning, entering traffic or crossing the road. If you try to cut it close, all it takes is the slightest judgment error to cause an accident.

5. Be a kind driver

Let people in when they need to merge. Never drive too close to someone's rear bumper. Don't drive aggressively or honk your horn as anything but a warning. If you take on a calm, kind mentality behind the wheel, it helps you and everyone else stay safe.

6. Give yourself time

A lot of problems -- speeding, aggressive driving, tailgating, running red lights -- happen because people always feel like they're in a rush. Don't become one of those drivers. Leave early and give yourself plenty of time to get there. Enjoy the drive. If you're not in a rush, you can concentrate on safety.

After a car accident

Again, while these tips can help, you could still get into an accident. If you suffer some serious injuries, you need to know how to seek compensation in Illinois.

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