Most cities and suburbs are designed around the concept of the motor vehicle, which makes it difficult to live an enjoyable, productive life without a personal car. Despite the important role that cars play in our lives, however, they’re also incredibly dangerous when improperly operated. Even safely-operated motor vehicles can be quite dangerous when they’re operated under harsh conditions, such as when inclement weather diminishes vision or traction on the road.
For many people, getting into a car and driving somewhere can, from a statistical standpoint, be one of the most dangerous things you do on a regular basis. Here’s how to avoid the most dangerous driving habits and how to remain safe on the road.
About three million injuries a year
Just how dangerous is driving in the United States? According to statistics provided by the American CDC, about three million non-fatal injuries occur every year across the country. The medical costs and productivity losses associated with automobile accidents also have a tremendous impact on the nation, costing roughly $75 billion in 2017 alone, per the CDC. Thousands of adults die every year because of otherwise-avoidable motor vehicle collisions requiring commercial roadside assistance, and countless others have their quality of life negatively diminished by permanent injuries caused by car crashes.
In many cases, something as simple as buckling your seatbelt can be the difference between life and death. Even in less serious cases, it can make the difference between walking on your own two legs or requiring a wheelchair to get around in the future. There are less obvious safety precautions you can take than buckling your seatbelt, but many people fail to use them because they weren’t taught. So, what are some of the other most dangerous driving habits to be avoided?
First and foremost, consider the weather. Knowing how to drive safely in inclement weather is important, as we can’t always avoid these situations. The first thing to know is that the safest option is to avoid such travel in the first place, whenever possible. The next tip is to avoid driving with dangerous or stressful individuals – so-called “backseat drivers” aren’t just annoying, but can endanger the lives of everybody inside of the vehicle by distracting the operator. Whenever you’re driving a vehicle, don’t allow frivolous distractions to take your eyes off the road or your concentration off the matter at hand.
It also goes without saying that you shouldn’t be driving under the influence. Alcohol and drugs can be fun when recreationally enjoyed in a responsible fashion, but they’re not something that improve your driving abilities. About 30 people die in the United States every single day thanks to drunk driving, per the Department of Transportation, so don’t allow yourself to take somebody else’s life just because you wanted to have a good time. A good DUI defense attorney can be expensive, so avoid the need for one in the first place by refusing to drink and drive under any circumstances.
Become a safer driver
Besides avoiding dangerous weather and driving under the influence, how else can you become a safer driver? Always ensure that everybody in your vehicle is wearing their seatbelt, a small thing that can ultimately end up saving their lives. Make it a firm rule in your motor vehicle that the driver doesn’t go forward until every passenger is properly wearing their seatbelt. If you have children, ensure that you’re investing in a proper car seat for them and securing it safely.
Take steps to ensure that you’re alert and awake when driving. You may think it’s impossible to fall asleep while doing something as serious as operating a motor vehicle, but it actually happens all the time. Drifting off to sleep at 80 miles per hour is obviously dangerous, but even slightly nodding off at a cooler 40 miles per hour can be enough to cost somebody (yourself included) their life. If you feel tired, pull over.
Of course, you should be taking active steps to reduce your speed on a regular basis. Nobody wants to admit to being a speed-demon, but we all exceed speed limits sooner or later, sometimes by accident. Keep an eye on your speed at all times, and know that the faster you go, the more dangerous you are. You should also regularly rely on signal indicators to tell other drivers of your intention – if you’re keeping your fellow travelers on the road guessing as to your motives and impending actions, you’re driving improperly and dangerously.
Finally, know that distracted driving is a serious issue that costs people their lives. Checking your phone, even briefly, is enough to destroy your vehicle and end your life. As you try to be a safer and better driver, remember that distracted driving is dangerous driving.