If given enough time, humans can grow comfortable with almost any situation. Sometimes, we become a little too comfortable. We tend to become desensitized to dangers that are part of our daily life. Occasionally, we need to step back and evaluate those daily dangers and our approaches to them.
We needlessly lose 1,250,000 people to car crashes every year and as much as 50,000,000 receive non-fatal injuries. Lives are irreparably damaged, yet unsafe driving behaviors are still commonplace. In contrast, responsible drivers make the world safer for all of us, and their cheaper insurance policies reflect these safe practices. Below, I would like to list some more prevalent dangers, and what you can do to mitigate those dangers.
Let’s go over some basics. Distracted driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving. If you are busy checking a message, looking for your wallet, or disciplining your kids, you will not see the man at the crosswalk or the brake lights of the driver in front of you. It is more than your life at stake. Never look away from the road. Take note of all the common distractions and plan ahead:
- Silence your phone. If you can’t hear it, you won’t be tempted to answer it.
- If your kids require your attention, pull over. Your ability to multitask is irrelevant.
- Preset your radio stations, make playlists that will last the drive, or enable voice commands that can change the music. If your hands need to leave the wheel or the stick shift, it should probably wait.
- If there are multiple drivers that use your vehicle, check to ensure that the mirrors are still in their proper positions. You don’t want to spend time adjusting them on the road.
- Don’t eat while driving. That fast food might go cold, but it is better than an car wreck. You might be surprised at how often spilled food and drinks are the initiating factors of car crashes.
- Never drive when drowsy. It’s not as easy to keep yourself from falling asleep as you might expect. Don’t push it. Take a short nap and wait till you are rested before making a drive.
Whether fueled by anger or fueled ignorance, reckless driving is not respectable behavior for an adult. To avoid it, go through this list and apply these tips to your daily driving habits:
- Stop at all red lights and stop signs, and it doesn’t matter if it is the middle of the night.
- Only begin changing lanes after you have finished checking your mirrors and blind spots for other vehicles. Afterward, change lanes as slowly is as safe.
- Don’t tailgate. Encouraging a slow driver to speed up is not a good excuse. You are rolling the dice when you close in on the other driver’s bumper. Human emotions are unpredictable, and this can quickly lead to road rage. As emotions rise, our perception decreases. They might slam on their brakes to send a message, or they might not see something in the road ahead of them. Keep your cool and keep your distance.
Every day, drunk driving kills an average of 29 people. Our good sense is often paired with inhibitions that act as gatekeepers that regulate or prevent certain behaviors. When we take the inhibitions down, our good sense can go with it. The sober version of someone can be fully aware of the dangers of drunk driving, but the drunken version might hop into the car and cause an accident. Here are a few ways to prevent a potential disaster:
- Eat a lot of food to slow the absorption of alcohol. Your body will prioritize the metabolization of alcohol over everything else. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t slow it down. By eating foods, especially dense foods, you can slow down the rate that the alcohol enters your bloodstream. It might just help you keep enough of your good sense to make safe decisions.
- Leave your car at home. You can’t drunk drive if you don’t have a car. Use alternative transportation: designated drivers, cabs, and buses are all fantastic options.
- Give your keys to someone that will stand up to the drunken version of you.
- Pick a stopping time before you start drinking. Don’t let yourself get carried and drink all the way till the time that you need to leave. Give yourself a couple of hours to allow the alcohol to run through your system.
- Pace your drinking. The average body metabolizes about one drink per hour. You will need to make adjustments for height, weight, and sex, but you can keep your blood-alcohol levels low if you are conscious of the rate of your consumption.
Anyone that has spent time in the coastal states will know that hydroplaning can be terrifying. When driving slowly, this isn’t much of an issue. When you start exceeding speeds of 35 MPH, it becomes a bigger problem. As the depth of the water increases, it takes longer for the tire to reach the pavement and decreases your overall traction.
Whenever there is rain, you should immediately slow down. The typical recommendation is five to ten MPH slower than the recommended speed limit. If there are cars around, give yourself lots of room. In dry weather, it will ideally take three to four seconds to reach the same location as the car ahead of you. Double this distance in rainy conditions.
If you do start hydroplaning, don’t panic and don’t slam on the brakes. Sudden changes in velocity or direction can cause the car to lose control. Instead, release the gas pedal and let the car slow down naturally. Don’t jerk the steering wheel to course correct. Only make slight alterations to maintain the proper placement on the road.
If we all take the time to limit the risk, we can save hundreds, thousands, and even millions of lives. Life is precious, so take the proper precautions to keep you, your loved ones, and even the occasional annoying driver safe. That’s all for now. Have a great day!
Samantha Tung is a contributing writer and media specialist for Caliber Collision. She often contributes content for a variety of car safety blogs.