This June, the National Safety Council (NSC) is celebrating National Safety Month. Each week has a different area of focus, and this week’s goal is to raise awareness on the dangers of driving and to advise on the most effective ways to drive safely. According to the NSC, over 40,000 people were killed in fatal car accidents in 2017 alone! This number is nearly 6% higher than in 2015. It is key that drivers begin to take measures to ensure they are able to come home to their family safely each night.
The first step to becoming a safer driver is eliminating any dangerous driving habits that one might have. According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association (GHSA), in 38% of fatal car accidents, the driver was drunk. While the number of drunk drivers has been slowly but steadily decreasing, the number of drugged driving is on the rise. Of 44% of fatal car crashes, drivers were under the influence of non-alcoholic drugs, the most common drug used being marijuana.
These drunk driving deaths and drugged driving fatalities are a shame since all of these car crash fatalities are avoidable! With technology constantly evolving, there are a few simple ways to get back home safely while under the influence. If someone anticipates a night of drinking, they should try to arrange a designated driver. Public transportation is also always available in metropolitan areas; in Detroit, the Q-line is a safe transportation option for drunk people. If drinking in an area without public transportation or finding a sober friend is difficult, the easiest way to avoid drunk driving is to hail a ride with a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft. A safe and quick ride home is just a push of a button away. Much like driving under the influence, driving while sleepy is another form of impaired driving and can be just as dangerous.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in 25 people reported having fallen asleep behind the wheel in the past 30 days! The American Academy of Sleep Medicine discusses a study which shows that about 21% or car accidents from 2009-2103 were caused by drowsy drivers. Drowsy driving accidents can be prevented by getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep regularly, and avoiding drugs or medications that can cause drowsiness prior to driving. As road trip season comes around, it is important to remember to take breaks every 2 hours, or every 100 miles of driving, and if possible, switch drivers. Preventing drowsy driving car crashes is an important way to create a safe driving environment for everyone on the road.
Another common factor in dangerous driving is distracted driving. In today’s fast paced society, it can be tempting to glance down at a phone notification on the drive to work, or send a Snapchat of a funny bumper sticker on a pickup truck, but it only takes a few seconds of distraction to cause a distracted driving car accident. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Association (NHTSA), in the 4 to 5 seconds it takes to read a text message while driving at 55 miles per hour, the car will have traveled the length of a football field. In today’s busy world, people want to consolidate their time as best as possible, and try to be multitasking experts by eating or doing makeup while driving. However, by pulling over to send a text, eating a Big Mac inside the McDonald’s, or waking up a few minutes early to put on lipstick can create a safer commute for all drivers on the road. Distracted and impaired driving is irresponsible, and preventable. It is each driver’s responsibility to create as safe of a commute as possible.
The NSC lists some simple safety tips to follow when deciding to get behind the wheel. The NSC encourages drivers to be aware of how a vehicle’s safety features work, as they can vary from vehicle to vehicle. However, the NSC also states that, “you are your best safety feature” as a reminder not to rely wholly on features such as blind spot alerts, as they can miss things and malfunction. Because of car malfunctions, it is important to take all car system alerts and warnings seriously. Ignoring safety alerts can be dangerous, as it can be difficult for people who are not auto experts to identify car malfunctions. While most warnings are for a loose gas cap or a faulty sensor, a check engine light could mean that the vehicle is in danger of catching fire or has low oil. It’s best to allow a professional to inspect the vehicle as soon as possible after the car displays an alert.
Another safety measure the NSC suggests to keep drivers aware of their surroundings is to clean all snow, ice, and mud off of the car prior to driving it. Cleaning the windshields is not always enough. In winter, driving a car with snow piled on top of it can impair the view of other drivers, when the snow flies off the top of a moving vehicle and onto other vehicles behind it. In addition, braking suddenly can cause snow to slide down from the roof of the car and to the hood, obstructing the driver’s view. Ice across windshields and windows can also severely impact the view of the road around the driver. No matter how short the drive, or how how much of a hurry the driver is in, it is not worth the risk of a car accident to drive in a car with obstructed views.
Since so many car accidents are preventable, the NSC has taken the fourth week of June to teach drivers which habits to avoid and which practices to follow. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, driving while sleepy, or driving with obstructed views are all unsafe decisions that drivers are choosing to make. The NSC reminds us that each decision a driver makes can affect the lives of everyone on the road around them, making it each individual driver’s responsibility to make the right decision each time they hit the road.
Car accidents may be common, but many of them are preventable. If you or a loved one have been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to a negligent driver, contact The Michigan Law Firm, PC at 844.4MI.FIRM. Our attorneys fight for Michigan’s injured drivers.