Getting behind the wheel of a vehicle requires you to act in a responsible manner. Your actions can have a lasting impact on more than just yourself. The following are ten distracted driving points to be aware of to ensure the safety of your passengers, yourself, and others on the road. Whether you are a seasoned driver or newly licensed, these tips apply to you.
Don’t assume you have full control. Understand the road conditions and be extra cautious in unfamiliar situations. Be a defensive driver.
Whether you are driving or just along for the ride, make good choices. Don’t be afraid to speak up if someone else in the vehicle is doing something that creates a safety risk for the rest of the passengers. Before you drive or ride, ask yourself:
- Do you trust this person?
- Are you OR they in the right frame of mind?
- Are you prepared to speak up or pay the consequence?
Fighting Mother Nature
Driving in the rain, fog, snow, bright sunlight, and dark calls for extra care. Before traveling, check the forecast and avoid driving in bad storms if possible. If you are traveling during adverse conditions, reduce your speed and maintain a safe following distance – use the ten-second rule, not the three-second rule. Also, be prepared. Make sure you have de-icer, warm clothes, blankets, food, water, flashlight, first aid kit, and sunglasses.
Over 100,000 vehicle accidents each year can be attributed to drowsy driving. Before traveling, get a good night’s sleep. If planning a long trip, travel with a companion who can stay awake and help keep you alert. Schedule regular stops, and take a short nap if needed before getting back on the road. Also, avoid medications that cause drowsiness. For more tips and information on preventing drowsy driving, visit http://drowsydriving.org/about/detection-and-prevention/.
Don’t load your vehicle unnecessarily with passengers. For teen drivers, the risk of accident while driving with passengers is significantly higher. Adding just one passenger to a vehicle increases a 16/17-year-old crash risk by 50 percent. With two or more passengers the risk increases fivefold. It goes beyond just having someone else in the car. A study found that just knowing they are being observed by friends can cause teens to engage in risky driving behaviors.
Driving in a way that disregards safety and courtesy is considered aggressive driving. Some of the behaviors that commonly constitute aggressive driving include speeding, racing, frequently changing lanes, cutting off other drivers, failing to signal, running red lights, failing to yield, tailgating, and slowing rapidly to discourage a tailgater. Aggressive driving is irresponsible use of a vehicle and can have deadly consequences. There is no room for it on the road, so simply don’t do it.
Give yourself time and stick to the speed limit. Obeying the speed limit will prevent some accidents from occurring and will reduce the severity of crashes you can’t avoid. Are the extra two minutes you save from speeding worth risking your life over?
Driving under the influence is a serious matter with consequences that reach far beyond the drunk driver. Check out these statistics from www.madd.org:
Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk-driving crash.
On average, two in three people will
be involved in a drunk-driving crash in their lifetime.
Drunk driving costs the United States $199 billion a year.
Prevention is pretty straightforward: if you drink, don’t drive. If you are faced with a situation where someone who is impaired is trying to drive, don’t get in the vehicle with them and do what you can to keep them from driving, even if it means calling law enforcement. As a parent of teen drivers, establish rules: stay sober and don’t ride with others who are under the influence.
Seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50 percent (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Yet millions of adults choose not to wear their seat belts on a consistent basis. Protect yourself, your family, and all other passengers: require everyone in the car to use a seat belt, regardless of position in the vehicle, length of the trip, or whether or not they are sleeping during the ride.
Accidents resulting from texting distractions are 100 percent preventable. Texting while driving slows your reaction time by 35 percent. A study shows it is becoming as dangerous as drinking and driving. Save calls, texts, and use of other gadgets for after the drive. It’s not where your hands are, it’s where your head is!
At least 28 percent of all traffic crashes – or at least 1.6 million crashes each year – involve drivers using cell phones and texting. (National Safety Council, 2010)
Approximately 57 percent of American drivers admit to texting while driving. (www.TextingnDriving.com)
Texting while driving increases the risk of a crash 23.2 times the risk of non-distracted driving – that is higher than driving while intoxicated. (Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 2009)
Take driving seriously. Extra precautions in safety will make a difference for you, your passengers, and others on the road.