That sort of accident is just… sad. I always recommend ‘Flight Following’ to my students. You get radar services from Approach and Center controllers to avoid that sort of problem.
As for my experience, I’m a Commercial Single Engine Land and Multi-Engine Land pilot, instrument rated, and a certified flight instructor for single engine airplanes and for instrument airplane operations. It probably sounds far more impressive than it is. About half the industry has those ratings, and I don’t fly any jets or such.