According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, car accidents happen every 60 seconds. That equates to about 5.25 million accidents across the nation on a yearly basis.
Statistics by the Association for Safe International Road Travel show that 37,000 people die annually due to vehicular accidents with an additional 2.35 million either injured or disabled. Children under the age of 15 account for 1,600 fatalities, while nearly 8,000 people between the ages of 16-20 are killed in crashes, both on a yearly basis.
While technical and legislative changes have been addressed to reduce fatal accident rates, a high number of accidents are due to driver impairment or behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 28 deaths every day in the U.S. that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. Numbers for 2014 put total fatalities for people killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes at 9,967, a figure that accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic-related accidents in the country that year.
These numbers are overwhelming but the unimaginable can happen in a split second. Drivers, passengers, and even pedestrians are at risk every moment, which is why it is important to understand the rules of the road and how to handle various situations.
Safe Driving Tips
- Wear your seatbelt at all times. Get in the habit of buckling up as soon as you enter the vehicle.
- Obey all speed limits and signs.
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These days there are great options when it comes to getting a ride – whether you order a taxi from an app, call a local car service, or ask a friend to give you a ride. Getting on the road if you are impaired can have a negative impact on your life, and the lives of others for years to come.
- Keep your eyes moving. Get used to being aware of what is happening on all sides of the road and check your rearview mirror regularly.
- Know that other drivers will make mistakes and drive irresponsibly. It is important for you to be alert and ready to react in a manner that keeps everyone on the road safe. While you may be angry with the other drivers or pedestrians, causing an accident on purpose will result in bigger problems.
- When being approached by an emergency vehicle, pull over to the right of the road and stop.
- When driving on multi-lane roads or highways, know that the left-most lanes are for passing only. If you do not intend to pass a vehicle, stay in the right lanes.
- Before driving a vehicle, but especially in bad weather conditions, do a simple safety check. Turn on the lights and walk around the vehicle to ensure all lights are working properly. Make sure your blinkers are working and that there is no sign of fluid leaks or things hanging from the vehicle. If your tires look flat, stop by a gas station or repair shop for air before driving long distances.
- Adjust mirrors before you get on the road. To adjust the left mirror, place your head against the left window and adjust the mirror so that you can just see the left side of the car. For the right side, move your head towards the center of the car and adjust the mirror the same way. This will help reduce your blind spots.