Unfortunately, auto accidents happen every day. More people die in car wrecks than in airplane crashes or train collisions. Trains and planes get a lot of attention from the media, yet car accidents go by hardly being noticed.
A person under 35 has a higher risk of being killed in a road accident than dying from a disease. Ninety-eight percent of wrecks are caused by distracted drivers. The constant addition of new inventions and gadgets has greatly increased the problem of neglect in driving. Just try standing on the side of the road and watching the passing vehicles: the drivers are more likely to do anything else than to watch the road attentively: they talk on cell phones, put on make up, search for a good radio station or eat a sandwich they bought at a nearby drive-through. These things are most common in the morning when people rush to work and their attention is even lower than usual because they are not fully awake.
Virtually every driver has been distracted by passengers, electronic devices or by eating and many have broken basic driving rules. The reason is because people are in their vehicle so often and for so long, that they forget how dangerous it is. Experienced drivers often become complacent, forgetting about the hazards that many times occur unexpectedly. This lack of attention elevates the risk of an accident even more.
If you want to be safe and reduce your risk while on the road, the most important thing a driver can do is to change their attitude. Although driving can become an “everyday thing”, it has to be done seriously and without distraction. It might seem annoying if a passenger asks the driver to stop talking on the phone, or when bumper stickers say “Hang up and drive!”, but maybe these things should rather be considered a reminder to pay more attention to the road conditions.
Here are a few other tips that should help decrease the risks associated with driving:
1. Reduce speed. When some point of distraction occurs, it is easier to react to hazards at low speed. Watch yourself, and if you notice that you are driving at too high of a speed, or if you feel rushed, try planning the trip ahead of time, and leave a little earlier, so that you will not be in a hurry, causing a dangerous situation on the road.
2. Avoid using a cell phone while driving. Inform people who may call your cell phone and explain to them that at certain times they should not call , unless it is an emergency. If the phone rings and you have to answer, pull over in a safe place and then start the conversation. Texting or dialing is even more diverting because it takes not only your mind away from focusing, but even removes your eyes from the road.
3. Decide what you will be listening to while the car is still in park. When the trip is expected to be short, it is preferable to listen to one particular radio show or your favorite CD. If the trip is going to take a while it would be better to have a mixed CD for such an occasion, to minimize you interaction with the stereo.
4. Everything should be done in its time and place. A person cannot put on make-up and watch the road simultaneously. Something has to be a priority and it is not always driving. If there was not enough time at home for applying make-up, a person can make their final touches right before work starts, and it will take less time and be less risky than doing so while driving. The same can be applied to eating. An ordinary person does not even think how many accidents have been caused by a driver who did not want their pants to be messed up by ketchup or by one who spilled a drink in their lap. Surely, everybody can find 5-10 minutes to stop and have a little lunch. Even if you have to be on the road, snack while getting gas or in other more opportune times.