Across the world it seems that in-roads have been made in road fatality and the numbers of people dying behind the wheel has dropped to lowest ever levels in numerous countries. However, the number of crashes is still quite high, signifying that cars are becoming safer, although our driving may not be.
Even though technology allows us to be a lot safer behind the wheel, better driving techniques can really make a significant difference.
Driving drunk causes around a third of deaths on the road in the US. Alcohol as we all well know at this stage causes problems with timing and coordination – two of the most important things to have when driving. Even at low levels driving is impaired and statistics show you are six times as likely to crash when on the limit as when alcohol free.
Once again, this is another obvious one that we’ve been told again and again. Speed kills! It leaves you with less time to reach, costs more in fuel and causes deaths. Ever mile over the limit you drive increases the chances of an accident by 4 per cent according to statistics from the ERSO.
By answering a call when driving you are simply irresponsible as it takes your mind off the task at hand; so it’s best to avoid it. Over 2,600 deaths a year in the US are attributed to distractions when driving. From texting, to tweeting to changing songs on your iPod; they all lower your reaction time by a fifth.
Driving when drowsy is also a significant factor and a large number of accidents are caused by people falling asleep behind the wheel. A few yawns can mean you miss out on something crucial and really affect reaction times. So, get a good night’s rest and if you feel tired don’t drive.
Buckling up is a must and prevents you from being thrown out of a car in a crash – simple as. NHTSA statistics show that around half of people who die in road accidents aren’t wearing a seat belt. Even at low speeds a belt is important, so always buckle up.
The weather plays a significant factor in on-road safety. If it’s overly wet, snowy or cold; then drive below the limit and stay and extra distance from cars in front. Bad weather reduces visibility, breaking times and increases the chances of crashes.
Stay three seconds behind the car in front to avoid problems of this ilk. It’s simple, find a stationary item on the road and then allow three seconds between you and the car in front past it. The minimum distance is important and no matter how good reactions are, if you don’t follow it you increase the chance of a crash. Remember in bad weather it should be up to 6 seconds.
Be on Edge
Even if you are the best, most aware driver in the world – the other person may not be. By assuming other people could do anything you are aware of the dangers of the road. From ignoring indicator signals when pulling out to being aware at intersections where you have the right of way, always be aware.
Aggressive drivers cause problems. People who cut others off or take aggressive actions cause problems for others on the road and increase the chance of accidents. Be defensive in your driving by staying a safe distance, accepting delays and being safe. Being aggressive and committing driving offence increases the chances of problems.
Cars are made up of over 15,000 parts and any one of these breaking can cause safety issues. Be sure to have your car checked regularly, tyres changed when required and engine services at regular intervals. This prevents problems.
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Cormac Reynolds writes for Motor Barrister Direct and believes that we can all improve our driving substantially.