Car accidents kill thousands of Americans each year and are the fourth most common cause of death in the nation. The Insurance Institute reports that over 40,000 people died in motor vehicle wrecks in 2017 alone, a greater number than those killed in falls or by gun violence. If you want to reduce your odds of dying in an auto accident, then you may want to be aware of a few risk factors that could affect those chances.

Practicing safe driving habits may help you stay alive during a car wreck. Avoid driving without your seatbelt fastened, focus on the road and not on your phone or other passengers and pull off the road if you become tired. Building safe habits can make you a more proficient driver and lower the risk of injury or death to those around you.

Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can increase your odds of dying in a crash. Even prescription drugs, such as opioids, can slow your reaction time and the reflexes that might help you avoid a wreck. Ask your doctor about how certain medications might affect you and plan to call a cab or assign a designated driver if you go out to a bar or party where alcohol will be served.

Poor health may affect your odds of dying in a car wreck. Some studies show that obesity may be associated with a higher risk of death during an auto accident, so if you are overweight, you may want to take every safety precaution possible while driving or riding in a car.