If you’ve ever driven a car you’ve probably seen the Multi-Tasking Driver. They’re the ones who think they can eat, read, apply makeup, text, talk, dress (or undress) and deal with the kids all while keeping an eye on the road and reloading the CD player. 18% of injury crashes in 2010 were reported as distraction-affected crashes.
Distracted driving isn’t good for anyone.
Then there are the drivers who take it really personally. They can be aggressive or even angry if they don’t get their way on the road. These drivers cause one third of all traffic crashes.
The worst is the inebriated driver and whether its drugs or alcohol they are a major danger to others on the streets and highways. Almost half of all drivers who were killed in crashes and tested positive for drugs also had alcohol in their system.
But there are also drivers who just aren’t paying attention and wander in and out of lanes, follow too closely and brake or make turns suddenly.
That’s why defensive driving skills are so important now more than ever. Especially for new drivers who don’t have the experience of long-time drivers. Defensive driving skills can reduce the dangers caused by other people’s bad driving.
KidsHealth.org has some great tips for teen drivers but they apply to all of us who get behind the wheel. So take a few minutes to review it yourself and with any teen drivers you might be living with.
Think safety first-get in the car with the intent of driving the best way possible.
Pay attention-check mirrors frequently as well as look ahead. Be aware of other drivers, pedestrians, bike riders and even animals in the road.
Don’t depend on other drivers-assume bad driving skills around you and anticipate them.
Have an escape route-always have a Plan B in case you have to take a last second detour.
Use the 3-4 second rule-maintain enough distance between you and the car in front of you to stop suddenly if necessary. In bad weather make it even longer.
Watch your speed-observe posted limits and go even slower in bad conditions. Just because the people around you are speeding doesn’t mean it’s ok.
Separate risks-there will always be multiple activities around you. Deal with them one at a time.
Avoid distractions yourself-don’t be the multi-tasking driver. Driving while using a cell phone reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37%. And sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of a football field, blind.
Most states have lists of defensive driving course providers if you want to increase your defensive driving skills. Some insurance companies even offer discounts if you attend one. But the biggest benefit of learning these skills is arriving at your destination safe and sound.
Sallas Auto Repair would like to add one more item: A car in good condition is one of your best assets for defensive driving. Good tires, brakes and fluids, among other things, will go a long way towards keeping you safe when you have to act fast. So bring your car in and we’d be happy to check it out and make sure you and your other family drivers are in good shape.
So be careful out there!