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What Does Driving Safety Mean?

Driving safety is the ability of you as the driver to have full control of a motorized vehicle and react safely to changing traffic conditions to avoid crashes and injury to yourself or your passengers.

There are many things to keep in mind when you’re driving. For most people, driving is something you do naturally without a thought; and every time you do, there is always a risk. About 1.3 million people die every year as the result of a car accident. This is an average of Over 3,200 deaths every day. Even cautious, safe drivers can become victims in accidents.

In this guide you’ll learn the importance of safe driving, the dangers of distraction and tips for every age. Before we get into that, take a look at this infographic:

Teen Driving

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens and young adults have the highest rate of cell phone use while driving.

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Almost 400,000 people were injured and more than 3,000 people were killed in 2015 because of distracted drivers. Most of the stories have one thing in common: cell phones. The statistics on distracted driving deaths and injuries remain alarming and a symptom of a much bigger problem.

When a teen receives a driver’s license, a parent’s biggest role is ensuring that they arrive safely at their destinations. This means educating them not just about the rules of the road, but the rules of the information superhighway as well.

Most teens know how dangerous texting while driving can be. In fact, 97% of teens said they agree that it is dangerous, according to a survey by AT&T. Sadly, 43% of teens still text and drive despite knowing the dangers involved.

The majority of today’s teens have access to a smartphone. Most teens carry their cell phone everywhere. While many teens feel the need to answer those text and social media alerts, as soon as they are received, they don’t realize it could be the last thing they do.

Additional Teen Driving Resources

Distracted Driving

All forms of distracted driving take attention away from safe driving. This puts the driver at risk and all other drivers on the road.

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Distracted Driving Facts:

  • One of every ten fatal crashes in the U.S. involved distracted driving, resulting in more than 3,000 deaths per year.
  • Texting is the leading cause distraction. Sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for 5 seconds.
  • It’s like driving the length of a football field at 55 mph with your eyes closed.
  • During the day, about 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or other devices while driving.
  • Drivers are 3 times more likely to get into an accident while using a mobile device.
  • Eating, drinking, talking to people in your car, searching for music and paying attention to GPS takes away from the task of safe driving.
  • Non-driving activity is a potential distraction and increases the chance of a crash.

Additional Resources

Car Maintenance

As a car owner it’s important that you get your vehicle serviced on a regular basis. Without regular service, you increase the chance of your vehicle having serious problems down the road.

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Vehicle Maintenance Tips:

Here are some services that need done on a regular basis to prevent serious damage to your vehicle.

  • Regular fluid checks of oil, transmission fluid and engine coolant. If these fluids are running low, make sure to replenish fluids immediately. If you don’t, your engine can overheat.
  • Regular oil changes. Changing the oil regularly helps the engine run smoothly. Suggested oil changes should be about every 3000 miles. This is important for the performance of your engine and avoiding engine problems.
  • Tire pressure checks. The wrong tire pressure can lead to excess wear and can cause the tires to be changed more often. Too much air in the tires can result in a tire blowing out.
  • Air filter checks: A dirty air filter can shorten the life of an engine and may reduce your gasoline’s mileage by 10%.

Car Maintenance Resources

Drunk Driving

Driving under the influence of alcohol can cost you your license, affect your finances, relationships, employment and ultimately could cost you, your passengers or the vehicle you hit their lives. If you plan on drinking alcohol, plan ahead before you take your first drink:

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Take These Steps To Prevent Drunk Driving:

  • If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving. Plan your safe ride home before you start the party. Designate a sober driver ahead of time.
  • If you drink, do not drive for any reason. Call a taxi, a sober friend or family member, use public transportation, etc. There are also apps online to help identify your location and call and call a taxi or friend to pick you up.
  • If someone you know has been drinking, do not let them get behind the wheel. Take their keys and help them arrange a sober ride home.
  • If you see a drunk driver on the road, call the local police department. Your actions could help save the driver’s life or another driver on the road.

Additional Resources On Drunk Driving Prevention

Drowsy Driving

Sleep-related crashes are most common in young people, especially men, adults with children and shift workers.

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People who sleep six to seven hours a night are twice as likely to be involved in such a crash as those sleeping 8 hours or more, while people sleeping less than 5 hours increased their risk four to five times.

Being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration .05, and .10 after 24 hours; .08 is considered legally drunk.

Adults between 18-29 are much more likely to drive while drowsy.

Men are more likely than women to drive while drowsy and are almost twice as likely as women to fall asleep while driving.

Adults with kids in the household are more likely to drive drowsy than those without kids.

Shift workers are more likely than those who work a regular daytime schedule to drive to or from work drowsy at least a few days a month

Sleep deprivation increases the risk of a sleep-related crash; the less people sleep, the greater the risk. Sleep deprivation and fatigue make lapses of attention more likely to occur, and may play a role in behavior that can lead to crashes attributed to other causes.

Additional Resources

Aggressive Driving & Road Rage

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, there is a difference between aggressive driving and road rage. Both can be caused by the following:

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  • Stress at work
  • Loss of a job
  • Argument with a spouse
  • Fighting kids in the car

Aggressive driving is when a person commits a combination of moving traffic offenses that endangers another person or their property. Here are 6 common offenses:

  • Speeding
  • Lane blocking
  • Tailgating
  • Frequent and sudden lane changes
  • Honking at other cars in a non- emergency
  • Failing to yield the right of way.

These actions are ticketable offenses. Aggressive driving is a factor in 50% of all crashes.

Road rage is when a person commits an act of violence against another driver. This is a more serious criminal offense. You can go to jail for it. These acts include:

  • Using your car as a weapon
  • Dueling another vehicle in a reckless chase
  • Retaliating against a driver by nudging their bumper or getting out of your vehicle and waving a weapon around with the intent to injure the other driver.

Additional Resources:

Driving Emergencies

Even if you consider yourself to be a good driver, you can still find yourself in a sudden driving emergency. Here are 6 common driving emergencies and solutions:

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  • Skid out of Control: Don’t be tempted to slam on your brakes. Just take your foot off the gas. If you can’t regain control of your vehicle, tap on the brakes to help your tires grip the road.
  • Fishtail: Don’t hit the brakes. Put your foot on the gas pedal and focus your eyes on where you want to go Your hands and the wheel will follow your eyes and help you regain control.
  • Gas Pedal Sticks: This can happen when the heel of a shoe, your floor mat, or some other object becomes wedged and holds your gas pedal in place. Jiggle or stomp on the gas pedal to dislodge it or shift your car into neutral.
  • Steering Wheel Locks: Shift into neutral, then back into drive. If that doesn’t work, brake to a stop and put on your flashers. This will grab other driver’s attention.
  • Brakes Fail: Keep pumping the brake pedal. IIf that doesn’t work, downshift or shift into neutral. You will begin to lose speed until you come to a stop.
  • Engine Overheats: Pull over and let the engine cool for about 30 minutes.

Additional Resources

Driving Anxiety

Anyone can experience anxiety while driving but usually in different ways. Some people are afraid to ride in cars. Others experience fear driving to keep themselves out of danger. Some people may have panic attacks while in their car but are not necessarily afraid of the car itself. All of these are different types of driving anxiety, and all of them require different techniques to fight the anxiety.

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Two Common Causes Of Driving Anxiety:

  1. Panic attack: Can control your entire mind and body, making it hard to focus on anything else. If you’re behind the wheel, it can feel like there is no way out and that the panic attack may be putting your life in danger. Eventually, the person becomes afraid to get into a car fearing that driving will cause another panic attack. Sadly, because of the way panic attacks work, that fear often produces another panic attack.
  2. Dangerous situations: Anxiety can occur as a response to dangerous experiences or the thought of a dangerous experience. Having an accident or several near accidents may also cause fear of driving. In addition, if a person hears about an accident or sees an accident, this can also cause fear and anxiety

Driving Anxiety Resources

Senior Driving

In order to stay safe as a senior driver, it’s important to recognize and understand the physical and mental changes that come along with age that can affect a senior’s driving ability.

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Here Are Some Driving Behaviors To Look Out For:

  • Failure to stop at signs or red lights.
  • Failing to yield the right of way. This includes 4 way stops, left turns, intersections and crosswalks.
  • Unsafe lane changes such as difficulty merging and cutting other drivers off when changing lanes.
  • Failure to stay in his or her lane by swerving or drifting into another lane when turning.
  • Driving too fast or slow. This could be a sign that the senior driver isn’t aware of the posted speed limit signs.
  • Frequently getting lost even when familiar with the route, possibly due to mental fatigue and confusion.
  • Inability to judge distance which increases the chance of a motor vehicle accident.

Having the discussion: It can be difficult to have this discussion with a senior driver. Here are some tips for a successful discussion:

  • Focus on Safety. Talk about being safe behind the wheel and avoiding a crash that could result in injury or death.
  • Be supportive: It’s important to show compassion before a decision can be made. Understand that you may be asking them to give up their freedom.
  • One-on-One: Have the talk with them alone. Involving the whole family can become chaotic and stressful.
  • Talk about their Independence: Surrendering your license can seem like losing your freedom. Discuss other alternatives for transportation will allow them to maintain some level of independence.

Senior Driving Resources

Additional Driving Resources

Take A Defensive Driving Course.

Learn the rules of the road, defensive driving safety, and how to operate your motor vehicle in a safe way. This course can also be helpful for older drivers who may need a refresher course on driver safety. Taking a defensive driving course can possibly dismiss a traffic ticket or even reduce insurance rates. The average cost of a driver’s safety course is about $25 and can be done in a classroom setting or an online driving safety course.

Rely On Your Own Driving

The greatest chance for an accident happens right in front of you. Be sure to leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you to allow enough time to stop in a hurry if needed. Speed is also a factor to insure safe driving. Pay attention to speed limit signs. If you’re going too fast, you won’t be able to control your vehicle, especially when road conditions are present.

Keep An Eye On Others Drivers

Be alert. If you spot a vehicle in front of or behind you showing signs of aggressive driving, slow down, or even better, pull over to avoid the situation. If the driver is driving in such a way that you’re scared, try to safely turn right or take the next highway exit. Look out for pedestrians, bicyclists, and pets as you are exiting the road.

Protect Your Passengers:

It’s your responsibility as the driver to make sure your passengers are safe. All passengers should wear a seat belt. It’s required by law. If a child is your passenger, make sure the child is secured in a properly installed child safety seat according to their age and weight.

What To Do When You Have An Accident

Being involved in car accident can be scary. Remember to stay calm. Asses yourself and any other passengers for injuries. Then check on the passengers in the other vehicle and/or pedestrians who may have been near the scene. It can be easy to get into an argument with the other driver if it’s clearly their fault. Don’t do it. Calmly exchange insurance information. If there were witnesses to the accident, get their contact information and do the following:

  • Stay put! Leaving the scene of an accident can result in legal action against you like fines or additional violations that can send you to court or affect your driving record.
  • Call 911. Stay in the car until police arrive. Waiting alongside the road is dangerous and can result in being hit by an oncoming vehicle.
  • Contact your insurance company immediately to report the claim. They will ask you to provide details about the accident, the accident report, and what steps to take to get your vehicle repaired.

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