The start of a new year gives us all the perfect opportunity to make conscious changes in our lives. If you’re in the process of making New Year’s resolutions, consider adding these to your list:
1. Don’t Drive Distracted. Never never pick up or use your cell phone or other device while you are driving.
2. Follow Traffic Laws. Yes, they can be boring, but they are here for a reason — to prevent automobile and truck collisions. So remember to use your turn signals and come to stops at signs and not run red or even yellow lights. Don’t tailgate, cut people off, weave in and out, or make illegal turns.
3. Buckle Up. Not just you, but everyone inside the vehicle. Make sure that small children are properly secured in car seats and boosters.
4. Drive “defensively.” Assume the worst and you won’t be surprised. Expect the unexpected. We were just hired today after an elderly man made a u-turn on an interstate in Fort Worth and crashed into my client’s vehicle. Keep a three second cushion between your vehicle and the one in front of you, four if it’s dark, raining or the conditions are bad.
5. Keep your vehicle in top shape. Too many crashes are caused or exacerbated by tires with insufficient tread or worn brakes. Pay attention to safety features like air bags, windshield wipers, and mirrors.
6. Plan ahead. Don’t start driving until you have checked all safety equipment. Make sure you know where you are going first. Do not start Google mapping as you drive. Have a back-up route. Make sure you have your cell phone in case of an emergency. On long trips, stop regularly for breaks and to use your phone.
7. Focus Just on Driving. Don’t turn to look at passengers, especially children moving around in the back seat. Lock down loose items that may move around. Don’t reach for items next to you, especially those that have fallen. If you’ll need cash or passes while you drive, have them in your console ready to use.
8. Don’t drive when you’re tired.
9. Don’t Drink and Drive.
10. Slow Down. Here’s a major cause of accidents. Easing up on the pedal can be an easy but effective way to make your commute much safer. You might also discover that slowing down makes your drive to work and on errands less stressful. As an extra bonus, driving the speed limit saves you money. You spend an extra $.15 to $.30 per gallon when you drive at faster than posted speeds.
It’s good news that speeding-related fatalities have dropped, although slightly, over the past decade. The number nonetheless remains way too high. 9,262 deaths in 2014 were attributed to speed, which accounted for 28 percent of the startling 32,675 traffic fatalities that year.
A few days before Christmas, a car slammed into the Uplift Heights Primary Preparatory School in Dallas and erupted into flames. The driver died but at least students and faculty were not present in the building. Speed and intoxication were the causes.
The mixture of speed and alcohol is common and increases the risk of both inherently dangerous factors exponentially. A drunk person loses inhibitions and is more likely to speed, which is made riskier because of slowed response time, impaired judgment and affected vision.
Speeding also makes texting even more dangerous. Because speeding increases stop time, those precious seconds when the driver’s eyes and attention are diverted to the cellphone are detrimental.
Age and gender are primary factors in speeding. 36 percent of teen aged boys killed in accidents were speeding compared to only 20 percent of teen girls. The incidents of fatal speed-related crashes decreases with each age bracket and the gender gap narrows. Now is the perfect opportunity to talk to your teen about the dangers of alcohol, texting and speeding.
Contact us if you have been in a car or truck wreck and need help.