According to the most recent statistics, in 2010 there were 30,196 fatalities due to car accidents in the United States. Unfortunately that huge number, though shocking, isn’t really that surprising considering what we see on the roads every day. We know that motor vehicle accidents are all too common, and most drivers are aware of the risks and get behind the wheel with every intention of being safe and responsible.
Still, some estimates say that on average we spend over 900 hours per year in our cars, and we start to feel at home there. It’s easy to understand how a driver can forget that it’s a dangerous place and focus only on their own journey and destination. It’s in these moments that we become the danger we should have been worrying about. These tips should help you to recommit to safe and attentive driving.
The number of potential distractions facing drivers on the road today is astronomical. It used to be that as long as the scenery or passenger weren’t too distracting, there wasn’t much to take the driver’s attention off the road. These days even if you don’t answer there’s likely a phone buzzing in your pocket or purse, a drive-through burger on the seat next to you and a satellite radio that needs tuning. Remember, driving is a skill and should be given your full attention. Turn your phone on silent before embarking and pull over to eat or adjust your entertainment whenever possible.
Another common problem that leads to accidents is fatigued driving. Long trips are usually the reason for drowsy driving, but also, hard-working people often find themselves exhausted with the drive home still ahead of them. There are several ways to reduce the risks, such as rolling down windows, turning up the volume on music that keeps you up, and sharing the drive. However, the most important thing to remember is not to drive if you are a danger. Pulling over every couple of hours on long trips or whenever you feel like you may be losing focus will help keep your weariness from endangering the lives of everyone on the road.
Speeding is a common and deadly contributor to auto accidents. Life is hectic and we are all in a hurry, but never think that your time is worth more than someone else’s life. Slow down, observe posted limits, and consider driving conditions when determining your speed. Low visibility, slick roads, and heavy traffic can make even your normal commute home a treacherous voyage, and every second of reaction time counts.
Aggressive driving may be a tricky thing to define, but we all know it when we see it. Weaving in and out of lanes, pushing through yellow lights, and tailgating are all examples of risky behavior that could get you or someone else killed. Remember when driving that you are sharing the road, and no matter how rushed or frustrated you feel it is important to respect the rules and courtesies of your area.
Medicines and Chemicals
There are lots of things that can impair your ability to drive safely without your necessarily realizing it. Certain medications or medical conditions can make you an unsafe driver, so it is very important to discuss with your doctor and fully understand the risks associated with operating heavy machinery. Aside from chemical impairment, extreme emotional states can become dangerous as well. Have you ever been so angry you couldn’t see straight? That’s a great example of a time to call a friend or a cab instead of getting behind the wheel.
One of the most commonly discussed (and prosecuted) dangers on the road is of course drunk driving. It’s easy to condemn anyone who makes this particular mistake, because when sober we pretty much all know how stupid drunk driving is. The problem is that once drunk, smart decision making becomes kind of a lot to ask. This is why sober you, pre-drinking you is the one responsible for preventing this terrible mistake. Before drinking make sure you have a plan, whether it’s a designated driver or money for a cab. That way the drunken, stupid version of yourself won’t do something that will ruin the life of sober, intelligent you, or anyone else.
There are, of course some causes of accidents that seem entirely out of your control. Severe weather conditions, defective products, and badly planned or maintained roads can certainly contribute to an accident. As a driver it is still important that you do all you can to minimize the risks when driving in these conditions. Reduce your speed, signal early, and pay close attention to all other drivers on the road.
The odds are everyone reading this either will be or already has been in a fairly serious accident in their lives. We can’t always prevent these things, but it is still worth doing everything in our power to ensure we are safe and responsible drivers. If all else fails and you are involved in an accident, you might want to locate a car accident lawyer. While every accident does not require one, it still might be good to have one waiting in the wings.