Even if you’re a defensive driver who’s committed to maintaining safe driving habits, you can be involved in a car accident at any time. When these events occur, your mind should automatically switch from collision avoidance to collision survival.

With the right actions, you can minimize the immediate and long-term effects of an accident, and the likelihood of serious injuries. Following are five things that you can do before an accident, during one, and immediately after to increase the likelihood of survival for both you and any passengers you’re traveling with.

1. Invest in the Safest Vehicle You’re Able To Afford

In-vehicle safety systems have traveled a long way beyond airbags and seatbelts. In fact, some of the latest and most innovative safety technologies include:

  • AI-guided collision mitigation systems
  • Strategically placed crumple zones
  • Active head restraints

There are a number of things that a well-designed vehicle can do to keep you and everyone else in the car safe, even when the crash force of a collision is substantial.

Not only are vehicles with top safety ratings capable of mitigating auto accidents, but these cars are also fairly adept in preventing them. Lane-keeping assist technologies, automatic braking, and other features may be able to stop you from colliding with another car or obstruction even when you feel it’s inevitable.

2. Never Travel With Unsecured Items in the Vehicle

One of the most overlooked dangers in an auto accident are heavy, loose items that can get hurled from one end of the vehicle to the other upon impact. Try not to travel with unsecured items in your car at any time. If you don’t store your groceries in a trunk or other separate, covered cargo area, use netting or another aftermarket harness to keep them from rolling or flying about. Even a jar of jelly or a loose can of soup can become a projectile in an accident and do serious damage if it hits someone in the head, neck, or face.

3. Maintain Your Usual Driving Position During Impact

Airbags and other crash protection features in your car are designed to work with you in your normal sitting position. You may be tempted to hunker down, sway to the side, or duck as soon as you realize that you’re on a course for collision. Staying upright as you normally would will allow built-in safety measures to provide the best possible level of protection.

4. Steer Towards Objects That Will Cause the Least Amount of Harm

Car crashes often occur before drivers have a chance to choose what they’ll crash into. However, if you find yourself losing control of your vehicle and know that a collision cannot be avoided, try to collide with something that will cause the least amount of harm.

For instance, rather than careening into the vehicle in front of you, consider running into the ditch or the bushes that line the road.

5. Try To Stay Calm After the Crash

Do your best to stay calm immediately after a car crash. Put your vehicle in park and turn it off to prevent it from rolling. If you’re in an area where oncoming traffic is likely to hit you, try pulling off to the side of the road before parking. Determine whether it is safe to leave your vehicle. If it is, set up road flares and reflective triangles right away, and check everyone for serious injuries.

Keep in mind that high levels of adrenaline can keep you from recognizing your own injuries or their severity. When possible, avoid moving. Call 911 and wait for help to arrive. If your neck or spine have been harmed, limiting your movement will prevent you from inadvertently worsening your injuries.

When working with a personal injury lawyer, you may be asked about the different steps that you took following this event, and the possible impact that these might have had on your injuries.

Being involved in a car crash is scary. When accidents are serious, their effects can be devastating and long-lasting. With these five crash mitigation strategies, you can limit your losses and injuries, and increase your likelihood of survival.