Even with self-driving cars and advanced safety features vehicle safety and safe driving is still important in 2021.
Driving a vehicle on a public roadway is one of the most dangerous things you will do each day. Unfortunately, even with the advancements in vehicle safety, there are still over 6 million car crashes. These crashes have resulted in more than 3 million people injured annually in the United States. Common causes of accidents include distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding and aggressive driving, fatigue, and weather conditions.
One of the top causes of vehicle accidents can is distracted driving. The brain is typically only able to focus on one task at a time. So, when the driver of a vehicle is texting, talking on the phone, using GPS, etc., that person cannot truly focus on the road ahead. So, focus on driving and put away all of the things that distract you from doing so.
Drunk/impaired driving results in approximately 29 deaths per day.
Even small amounts of alcohol can have a major impact. In fact, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2018, 1,878 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes where the driver had a blood-alcohol level of .01 to .07 g/dl. If you are going to be drinking, plan a sober ride before you start. There are many different options, including ride services such as Uber, public transportation, using a designated driver, or even spending the night. Also, if you observe another vehicle on the roadway and you believe the driver is impaired, please contact the local police department.
NHTSA statistics show that in 2018 speeding and aggressive driving had been involved in approximately 26% of all traffic fatalities.
Several factors cause people to speed: running late, keeping up with traffic, total disregard for traffic laws and safety, and racing. Speeding increases the chances of losing control of a vehicle, reduces the vehicle’s safety equipment effectiveness, increases stopping distance, and causes increased fuel consumption. Suppose you share the road with an aggressive driver. In that case, it is best to adjust your driving accordingly and let the other person drive away. Aggressive driving can result in road rage, and extreme situations can result in a physical altercation, vehicle crash, or even drive-by shootings.
Sleepiness, drowsiness, or exhaustion can negatively impact a driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle safely. Drowsy driving can be every bit as dangerous as distracted driving and driving while impaired. Driving while drowsy affects everyone, people under the age of 25, who make up an estimated 50% or more drowsy driving crashes. Drowsy driving accidents can occur at any time. However, these accidents most often occur from midnight to 6:00 AM and in the late afternoon. Therefore, it is always best to get an adequate amount of sleep before driving an automobile.
All of the following are indications that you might need to pull over and rest:
Starting to nod off
Experiencing excessive yawning
Inability to maintain your lane or speed
Failure to remember the last few miles driven
You are missing road signs or turns
Weather and road conditions play a vital role for the operator in determining the proper speed and braking distance. While it is possible to operate a vehicle safely in inclement weather, statistics show that most drivers do not alter their driving habits to account for the weather. Fog, rain, thunderstorms, snow, ice, even bright sun can impact your ability to see the road and react to dangerous situations. These same weather issues can also make the roads slick and tricky to drive on. Therefore, if there is rain, snow, or ice leave earlier than usual to reduce the need for excessive speed when driving.
A car accident can be a life-changing event. A minor crash could be the inconvenience of not having a car while it is in the repair shop. In contrast, a major vehicle accident can cause severe injury or death. Not to mention lost time at work, pain, suffering, permanent disabilities, increased car insurance, citation costs, and more. Unfortunately, driving is something many of us do daily. Hence, it becomes part of our regular routine that we do not give much thought to. Remember, driving is a privilege, not a right. So to maintain that privilege and keep your license, please take driving seriously and give it your full unimpaired attention.
By: David Qualls, APSS, OSHA Authorized Trainer – Director of Risk Management