Anytime you either drive or ride in a vehicle, you put yourself at risk. Data gathered by the Association for Safe International Road Travel indicates that vehicular accidents in the United States result in about 37,000 fatalities and 2.35 million injuries each year. While some of these accidents couldn’t have been prevented, most were the result of bad driving habits.
Using Cell Phones While Driving
There’s a reason local and state police forces are constantly issuing reminders to motorists, urging them to leave their cell phone alone while their vehicle is operating. It’s because they’re dangerous. Don’t think that because you’re using the hands-free option to talk to someone that you’re safe. According to data collected by the National Safety Council (www.nsc.org) in 2014, approximately 25 percent of all car accidents happened because at least one of the drivers involved was using their cell phone. The surprising thing was that of these accidents, only 5 percent were connected to texting while 21 percent involved a driver using a hands-free phone. No information was available about how many of the accidents were linked to people dropping their cell phone or using the GPS feature.
The best way to keep your commute safe is completely ignoring your cell phone while driving. Let the incoming calls go to voicemail and listen to them later. If it’s a call you absolutely can’t ignore, find a safe place and pull over before using the phone.
Driving While Sleepy
We know we shouldn’t get behind the wheel when after we’ve been drinking or while taking certain types of medications, but most of us don’t realize that driving while drowsy is equally as bad. The National Safety Council spent 2014 gathering data about driving while fatigued and learned that during that time period, 5,000 of the car crash fatalities that year were the result of drowsy driving. It doesn’t take much to be too tired to drive. Skipping just two hours of sleep is the same as drinking three beers, and pulling a twenty hour day before driving is just as dangerous as driving while drunk.
Pets in the Car
In most households, a household pet is considered a highly valued member of the family, which is why about 80 percent of dog owners bring their dogs along when they run errands or take a road trip. That’s fine, but when you’re traveling with your dog, you can’t let yourself become distracted by your pet. Only 16 percent of dog owners who like to ride with their pets report that the pet is properly restrained while traveling. While there isn’t any hard data indicating how many car accidents are caused because drivers were distracted by their pets, most police agencies recognize that it’s a problem, which is why Los Angeles, Ohio, Hawaii, and Michigan issue citations to drivers caught with their dogs in their laps.