It happens all too frequently, ranging from a little fender bender to a rollover: motor vehicles collide on a roadway.
Unfortunately, auto accidents just happen. Weather factors obviously play a role in the amount of accidents every year, but what other factors come into play?
Actually, the leading cause of death for Americans 1 to 34 years old is auto accidents. In total, this amount adds up to around 40,000 deaths per year. The monetary value of these accidents including emergency care, damages, clean up, etc. is also a high cost. It has been estimated at a figure of about $300 billion annually in the United States. This is a daunting statistic, and studies have shown that these figures may continue to increase.
As mentioned, weather is a main concern of motorists everywhere, and when the weather is bad, obviously the risk factor of an accident occurring increases. Some weather concerns include: limited visibility in snow and rain, strong winds buffeting the vehicle, and also diminished traction from wet roads. How other drivers handle weather conditions may affect you as well. It’s not enough to have to drive and take into consideration all these factors, but you must watch out for the overly cautious driver who goes too slow or suddenly slams on the breaks, or the overly confident driver who doesn’t practice caution and runs off the road.
Another accident risk that has been gaining a lot of publicity lately is the risk of cell phone use while driving. And rightfully so. It is estimated that about 28% of all accidents currently involve use of a cell phone by a driver. These accidents are often caused by drivers texting — their eyes are focused on something other than the road. Because of this, laws are being passed in many states that hope to cut down on this danger. Texas is one of those states that already has laws prohibiting cell phone use in certain indicated areas. Cell phone companies are also implementing voice dictation software, or apps that turn off texting while driving. If you don’t know the laws of your state, you may want to check. We will cover these in more detail in a future article.
Another obvious risk is the use of a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It may surprise some people, but even driving after taking over the counter medication like cough syrup or Benadryl is a risk. These medications make reaction time slower, and adversely affect driving and reaction skills. The next time you think of driving after you’ve had more than the limit, consider that of the number of car accidents that are fatal, about 40% are believed to be caused by drunk driving.
Remember to keep safe. Awareness of distractions and environmental factors are important to keep in mind before sitting down behind the wheel. We must remember to drive smart, keeping in mind that we put others at risk with the decisions we make…and also keeping in mind that the life that we save may be a dear loved one riding with us – or our own.