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Defensive driving can help reduce accident risks

There's nothing you can do to guarantee you won't be in an accident. Even if you never make a single mistake behind the wheel, it's not possible to influence what other drivers do. Someone who runs a red light or a stop sign, for instance, can still draw you into a wreck through no fault of your own.

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However, driving defensively can help to lower the risk. If you assume other drivers are going make mistakes, you can sometimes avoid crashes, even those that wouldn't have been your fault. 

One key is to make sure that you're always alert and focused when you're driving. Keep your eyes closely on other vehicles, and you can often see little indicators that someone else is about to make a mistake -- such as a car that doesn't appear to be slowing down fast enough as it approaches a red light, or a driver who keeps drifting out of his or her lane due to cellphone use. 

While doing this, be sure you are aware of what's happening in all directions, not just right in front of you. Look at your mirrors frequently. Check both ways before pulling into an intersection, even when the light just turned green.

If you do notice aggressive drivers, avoid them. If someone is tailgating you on the interstate, for instance, move over and slow down to let them pass. Aggressive drivers cause a lot of accidents, and staying as far from them as you can reduces your own risk.

Of course, even when you do all of this, there is still a chance you'll be involved in a crash. If you're hurt in that accident, you need to know how to seek compensation. Some things are simply out of your control, but that doesn't mean you can't go to court to make things right. 

Source: Kids Health, "The Keys to Defensive Driving," accessed Dec. 08, 2016

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