This is a powerful video from the Transport Accident Commission (warning: it’s pretty graphic):
h/t Jill Stanek
So many deaths and life altering injuries are caused by traffic accidents – and they’re not always the result of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. When I wrecked 10 years ago I simply was not paying attention. I wasn’t even tired, just sick of driving and I allowed myself to become “hypnotized” by the road. By the time I realized what was happening it was too late. We were off the road, in a ditch and the car was about to flip over. I was probably not distracted for more than a second or two, but in that instant my life was changed forever.
Think your safe as long as you’re “almost home”? Think again. My wreck was only a few miles from my house. Statistically speaking, a third (32 per cent) of all car accidents happen within a mile of the driver’s home and a further third within five miles. This is because most people become lazy when driving on familiar roads.
Bottom line: PAY ATTENTION! Car accident statistics indicate 98 percent of reported accidents involve a single distracted driver. According to one report, after rubbernecking (16 percent), other common driver distractions included:
*Driver fatigue (12 percent)
*Looking at scenery (10 percent)
*Other passengers or children (9 percent)
*Adjusting the radio, cassette or CD player (7 percent)
*Reading the newspaper, books, maps or other documents (less than 2 percent)
The problem is that, for most of us, driving is so routine. It’s such a normal part of our everyday lives that we really tend to take it for granted. We’re so comfortable behind the wheel, especially on roads we frequently travel on, that we do get lazy and we think we can multi-task while driving. I’m fully aware that, for the most part, people are going to drive however they damn well feel like driving (how many of us get annoyed at “backseat drivers” trying to tell us how to drive?) but I hope you will at least consider that it is not just your own life you take into your hands when you’re out on the road. Be safe!
1. Avoid drinking and driving.
2. Minimize distractions such as reading newspapers or talking on the cell phone when driving.
3. Properly maintain vehicles. Tune up cars according to maintenance schedule, and especially take note monthly of tire condition.
4. Do not encourage aggressive drivers. Let other aggressive driving behavior roll off your back, or call the police. Losing your temper could worsen the situation.
5. Leave a safe distance between your cars and others. For every 10 miles per hour of speed, leave at least one car length space between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead.
6. Maintain a constant speed. Don’t continually slow down or speed up.
7. Adjust mirrors properly and check the side and rear-view mirrors every 15 seconds.
8. Take defensive driving classes to improve your ability to drive and be better prepared for the unpredictable behavior of other motorists.
9. Proceed with great caution through intersections. Intersections are the center of most accidents. When entering an intersection, look left, then right, then left again to ensure the area is clear.
10. Be sufficiently aware of road conditions and be more visible. Keep your lights on at dusk and dawn and during rain, as is the law in most states. Understand basic vehicle dynamics, such as knowing how to recover from a skid.
(source: Property Casualty Insurers Association of America)
**I would also add to this list – PULL OVER if you are feeling tired or find yourself getting sick of driving as I did. Take a short nap or just get out of the car for a second and stretch a little bit to revive yourself. I’ve done this when I was only driving to the next city just 30 miles away. Use your phone, set your alarm and give yourself a good 5-10 minutes of rest instead of trying to push it. You’ll be doing yourself – and the rest of us – a big favor.