Having helped thousands of people who have suffered the physical and emotional effects of motor vehicle accidents, we are aware of the all too common causes of motor vehicle accidents. In our experience, there are six general categories of driver conduct that result in more than 90% of all car accidents. We hope that listing what we see as recurrent root causes of these collisions will help people to recognize similar behavior and avoid becoming another statistic. This article identifies these causes and will make practical suggestions to help you avoid a collision.
Young drivers cause a huge percentage of accidents. This seems to be due to inexperience or perhaps a naive misunderstanding of just how dangerous a vehicle can be. Compounding inexperience is the all too common occurrence of multiple young people getting in the car together. As a driver, concentrating on the roadway as well as trying to maintain a conversation with passengers can be difficult at any level of experience. Placing a young driver in that position is particularly deadly.
SOLUTION: Educate your children as to the dangers of driving, and insist that the young drivers in your house have the proper level of maturity to take on this responsibility before they are permitted to use the family car. Just because Colorado says your child can drive does not mean you have to let them do so until you feel comfortable that they are ready.
If inexperience on its own is bad behind the wheel, texting in combination with inexperience is downright treacherous. While texting is a popular means of communication amongst the young, e-mailing/texting and driving is certainly not limited to simply the young. There is no tolerable level of texting and driving, regardless age or experience. There are only two types of texting drivers: (1) those who have already caused a major motor vehicle accident and (2) those who are going to.
SOLUTION: If you cannot help yourself, put your phone or e-mail device in your trunk while driving. After a while, like putting on your seat belt, you will get in the habit of not having it next to you while driving and everyone around you will be safer.
Alcohol slows our response time, makes you sleepy, and also makes you daring. While people stoned on marijuana tend to get sleepy and hungry, people who consume alcohol tend to want to drive.
SOLUTION: Develop a zero tolerance for yourself. Are you okay to drive with just two beers or three beers? No! Promise yourself that if you drink alcohol you'll either stay where you are, get a ride from a non-drinking companion or take a cab. There is simply never a reason to risk a DUI or a major motor vehicle collision.
Scientific evidence and medical doctors tell us that adults need to sleep between 8 to 9 hours a night. However, studies show that American adults sleep around 6 hours. Colorado is full of people who work too hard, deprive themselves of sufficient sleep, and spend longer than most people in other parts of the country in their cars. Naturally, vehicle use and sleep deprivation result in drowsy and sleeping drivers.
SOLUTION: Make it a goal to sleep no less than 8 hours a night. Turn in 2 hours earlier than usual. Try that for a week and you will be hooked. Sleeping more will mean less fatigued driving and therefore safer driving.
Ever witness a lady in the vehicle next to you talking on her cell phone while eating an Egg Mc-Something and applying makeup? Ever see a businessman on the phone, reviewing a file, and driving 75 miles an hour? Ever see anyone reading a book while driving? These are all true examples of inattentive driving. However, there are more subtle versions of inattentive driving which we frequently hear about as excuses for accidents, including, reaching for a cell phone that dropped between the seats, spilling coffee, or a driver being lost. Police identify inattentiveness as the number one reason for car crashes in Colorado.
SOLUTION: Simply reduce your activities in the car. Remember, you can always pull over. Every time your mind is on something other than the road, you are guilty of being an inattentive driver. It's dangerous out there, so pay attention. It could save your life.
Statistics on the benefits of seat belts are rarely mentioned in accidents involving speeds of 65 mph or greater. The reason is that there is nearly no appreciable difference in survival between belted and unbelted occupants at speeds above 65 mph. Basically, at those speeds, belted or not, most everyone dies. It is true, "speed kills."
SOLUTION: Slow down! Driving at 50 mph verses 70 mph over the length of an average commute shaves only 2-3 minutes off the travel time. But by slowing down, you actually give your seat belt a chance at saving your life. If you are late for an appointment, putting yourself and others in harm's way by speeding will change nothing. You will still be late. Slow down and live.
These simple observations we have shared with you can dramatically improve your likelihood of arriving to your destination safely. If each of us would implement them in our driving, Colorado certainly would be a safer place to live and raise our families.
At Anderson, Hemmat & McQuinn, we hope that you will make it to your destination safely. However, should the negligence of someone else cause you to be injured, we are here to help. Please call us today if you would like to discuss your case.