In many cities, driving is not so much a privilege as it is an absolute necessity. Still, driving can be dangerous, and bad driving habits have a way of amplifying that danger. Motor vehicle accidents remain one of the most prevalent causes of premature death in the United States, especially among young drivers.
Car accidents are one of the main causes of serious injuries. Every year, motor vehicle collisions cause nearly 40,000 deaths and 4.5 million injuries in the United States, according to the National Safety Council (NSC). Aside from locking yourself in your house for the rest of your life, there is no surefire way to make sure you will not be involved in a car accident. Nonetheless, avoiding risky driving behavior can substantially reduce the chances.
Not every road danger can be anticipated, but many of them can. Time and time again, the following factors share a causal relationship with motor vehicle crashes.
Statistically speaking, teen drivers are one of the biggest hazards on the country’s roadways. The mixture of inexperience and youthful ignorance is all too often a deadly one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teen drivers are far more likely to:● Commit speeding offenses● Fail to recognize dangerous driving situations● Fail to use seat belts● Make critical decision errors that lead to crashes● Allow shorter headways (follow too closely)● Use mobile phones to send texts or emails while driving (39% admitted to it)
The number of accidents involving teen drivers increases dramatically when another teen is in the car, and they continue to rise with each additional teen passenger. People should avoid allowing their teenage children to ride around with their friends; it has a way of negatively affecting their judgment.
There is no room for distraction when you are driving; a couple of seconds of preoccupation may be all it takes to cause an accident. In 2018, distracted driving caused more than 2,800 deaths and 400,000 injuries in the United States. Interestingly, about 20% of the people killed in incidents involving a distracted driver weren’t other motorists; they were just people walking, riding bikes, etc. Bicyclists and pedestrians can easily be missed when drivers are preoccupied.
No matter how stiff the penalties for driving under the influence, a staggering number of people still do it. DUI remains one of the most preventable causes of car crashes today. In 2010 alone, drunk driving killed more than 10,000 people and caused an estimated $44 billion in damages.
It doesn’t matter how careful a driver you are if you can’t rely on your vehicle’s critical systems. The most commonly neglected vehicle systems that cause accidents are related to wheels, tires, and brakes. Be sure to get these systems checked at least annually, preferably every six months.
Even a well-maintained vehicle can be susceptible to a tire blowout. The important thing is not to panic when it happens. When a tire blows, the vehicle will probably swerve unexpectedly, and your first instinct will be to overcorrect and slam on the brakes. This is a mistake you should try to avoid; the best thing to do is keep a firm grip on the wheel, brake lightly and let the vehicle slow to a stop.
No matter how good your driving habits are, there’s probably some room for improvement. Try to objectively observe your driving, paying particular attention to how often you’re preoccupied behind the wheel. Consciously working on improving your driving behavior will help make you and everyone else on the road safer.