Thousands of people lose their lives every year in car accidents around the world. A fair number of these tragic events could be avoided if drivers adopted a more safety-conscious attitude each time they get behind the wheel.
No one sets out to cause an accident. Most drivers find it difficult to come to terms with the consequences of an accident caused by carelessness or a momentary lapse of concentration. There are, however, things you can do to avoid becoming another statistic.
Aggressive drivers threaten the safety and lives of others. Other drivers threaten their own safety simply by not wearing a seat belt. These are just a few examples of actions that can lead to tragedy, actions that could be avoided if you adopt the mentality of a safe driver.
We all have good days and bad days. Some days you get behind the wheel in a positive frame of mind, while on other days, you might be frustrated or running late.
Aggressive driving is one of the leading causes of crashes and fatalities on our highways and roads. Many drivers don't realize they're driving aggressively until they get into a dangerous situation.
In the United States, the term aggressive driving covers a diverse range of unsafe driving behaviors. So far, 15 states have adopted aggressive driving laws and 11 states have passed specific laws that clearly define certain aggressive actions.
For example, California treats aggressive driving the same way it treats reckless driving, with severe penalties if you are found guilty. Examples of aggressive driving offenses in Arizona are speeding, tailgating, failure to obey a traffic control device, and unsafe lane changing.
Taking risks on the road can get you into legal trouble, as well as endangering yourself and others on the road. Consult your local State Highway Safety Office for a detailed list of aggressive driving offenses in your state.
Aggressive Driving Statistics
According to their research, about 60 percent of drivers surveyed said that they had witnessed examples of unsafe driving. Over half of respondents admitted they had driven aggressively.
In Canada, previously released collision statistics (Transport Canada) reveal that 27 percent of fatalities and 19 percent of serious injuries are caused by speeding. When you consider that most people killed in speed-related crashes were the drivers themselves, you have a good incentive to curb your speed.
Authorities in the UK have used speed cameras and financial penalties to deter speeding drivers for many years. Efforts to stamp out aggressive behavior have increased in recent years, with some offenders being forced to take their driving tests again. In some cases, the authorities are seizing vehicles to keep the worst offenders off the road.
If you answer yes to any of the following questions, you will probably get pulled over sooner or later. If you're lucky, you will only get a warning, but if your actions are bad enough, you may face serious penalties.
Answer these questions honestly:
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be an aggressive driver and be putting yourself, your passengers, and other drivers at an increased risk. Many law enforcement agencies around the world are taking hard stances on aggressive driving. They know that enforcement and education will reduce the death toll on our roads.
Even if you adopt safe driving behaviors, you will probably still encounter other aggressive drivers while you are behind the wheel. Here are some tips to help deal with them...
Many people confuse aggressive driving with road rage. These are often two separate issues in the eyes of the law. Road rage, which is generally classified as a criminal offense, often occurs when an aggressive driver escalates after another driver challenges them. It can result in physical confrontation.
Impaired driving (or drunk driving), is one of the major threats to the safety of everyone on the road. About 40 percent of traffic deaths in the United States involve alcohol. Drunk driving is illegal in all US states and in many countries around the world.
The criminal offense is referred to as DUI, or Driving Under the Influence. There are serious criminal and financial penalties for anyone found driving under the influence of alcohol.
The UK has seen a decrease in the number of DUI fatalities, with the Department of Transport reporting that 230 fatal casualties in 2011 were caused by drunk-driving. This is the lowest annual figure since records began in 1979.
But the message is not getting through to everyone and there are some common misconceptions among drivers about how much alcohol they're allowed to consume. You can find a number of blood alcohol calculators online, and there's a range of devices you can use to test yourself before getting behind the wheel.
Law enforcement agencies continue to increase their efforts to identify drivers who are either under the influence of alcohol or impaired by drugs and prescription medicines.
Cost of drunk-driving
The actual costs associated with an impaired or drunk-driving arrest can vary greatly depending on where you are, but the consequences are always severe. You will face a series of fines and criminal conviction.
You will also be facing much higher insurance premiums once you're allowed back on the road. If you have to drive to your job, you're also putting your ability to earn a living in jeopardy.
Underage DUI is also an issue. In some states and countries, drivers who are under 21 could face a jail term of up to six months. This zero-tolerance approach is designed to ensure that new drivers don't acquire bad habits.
We all want to keep our children as safe as possible. Adult drivers must take responsibility for any children in their vehicle and help them stay safe. The number one priority is to make sure children are securely restrained with their seat belts fastened before setting off.
Seat belt laws
Seat belt legislation in the United States is dictated by individual state governments, but every state requires children under a certain age to be restrained using an approved car seat. New Hampshire stands alone as the only state that does not require adult drivers to wear safety belts.
All provinces in Canada have primary enforcement seat belt laws, as does Australia, the UK, and many other countries around the world. Thousands of deaths have been prevented as a result of making their use mandatory.
Early morning and after school are peak traffic times in many areas. Drivers have to contend with school buses and children awaiting their transportation. School bus drivers and motorists, together with parents and teachers, all need to do their part in keeping our children safe.
Although the focus of this guide is on driver behavior, cyclists and pedestrians share the road. There are steps they can take to improve highway safety and reduce the number of incidents.
Cyclist safety tips
Many people rely on their bikes to get around, especially in urban areas. Here are some important safety tips to help reduce the number of accidents involving cyclists:
Drivers must yield to pedestrians when they cross the road at designated crossing points. There are still way too many accidents caused by drivers failing to stop at marked pedestrian crossings.
Pedestrians can improve their safety by observing the following tips:
There has been a noticeable increase in the number of motorcycles on our roads in recent years. Motorcyclists and automobile drivers need to be aware of each other, and respect each other while sharing the roadway.
There are a number of ways motorcyclists can enjoy a safe journey.
Safety tips for motorists who share the road with motorcycles:
There's often conflict between motorists and truckers. We all need to try and respect each other and learn to share the road. When driving a car down the highway surrounded by trucks there's little margin for error. Although it's stating the obvious, the car would fare much worse in a collision.
Here are a couple of facts about trucks that motorists need to consider:
Trucks approaching from a distance may be moving faster than you think.
Due to their large size, trucks appear to be traveling toward you at a slower rate than they actually are. Allow plenty of time for perception and reality to meet. Give yourself more room than you think you need to pull out in front of an oncoming truck.
You should also never pull in front of a truck and then slow down, as this eliminates the cushion of safety that the driver originally had before you made the move.
Trucks have large blind-spots.
Many trucks now carry a sticker on their backs that say "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you." Don't hang out in the blind spot, even if you're in slow-moving traffic. Trucks take sweeping and wide turns. If you're too close and they can't see you in their mirrors, you could easily end up in a truck collision, so hang back.
An estimated 80 percent of fatal crashes involving large trucks are attributed to driver error. We all need to share the road and respect other vehicles.
While getting older doesn't automatically make you a worse driver, there will come a point when a decision will have to be made about your ability to continue driving.
Driving is a critical lifeline for many senior citizens. The loss of independence and mobility for a mature driver can be very difficult to accept. Nevertheless, there are some red flags that could signal it's time to stop driving.
Here are some of the warning signs to look out for:
If you're a mature driver, there are ways to ensure you stay safe on the road and keep your license for as long as possible. The following tips will help you to stay safe:
Statistically, 16-24 year olds are more vulnerable to vehicle crashes than other age groups. Their lack of driving experience and fast or careless driving make young drivers far more likely to have an accident.
Here are some tips to keep young drivers safe:
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