The average American driver puts 13,474 miles on their car each year and spends roughly 225 hours driving. While driving may seem to be an everyday activity for most, it is possibly the most dangerous daily activity American’s engage in. Did you know that nearly 70% of all accidents happen within 20 minutes from home?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are 5 driver activities that are most likely to result in a fatal accident. Let’s look at how you can protect yourself and others on the roadways, next time you get in your car.
#5 Distracted Driving
During an age of advanced technologies such cell phones, Bluetooth, aux ports, on-board DVD players & navigation systems, its easy to see how a driver can become distracted by any number of things.
Talking to fellow passengers, an unsettled toddler in the backseat or eating a meal on the run can be equally distracting, taking one’s attention away from the roadway for seconds at a time. Statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that in 2015 6.7% of all fatal accidents were caused by distracted driving.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) discovered a particular concern regarding the use of cell phones. This study showed that drivers interacting with their phones (such as: answering a call, dialing a phone number, reaching for one’s phone, glancing at notifications and reading/responding to text messages) are 17% more likely to be involved in a crash than those who do not use their cell phones in a vehicle.
In response to the growing concerns regarding cell phone distractions, Apple launched an iPhone update in 2017 allowing its users to enable a “do not disturb while driving” feature which disables all notifications on that phone while a car is in motion. Likewise, many city and state jurisdictions have passed laws making it unlawful to use a cell phone while driving.
#4 Failure to Yield Right of Way
Most drivers are familiar with the yield sign (a red and white, upside-down triangle with the word “Yield” on it). The sign is a warning, requiring drivers to slow down and allow vehicles in intersections or merging traffic to go before them. A yield sign is not the only time in which drivers are required to yield, however. Failure to yield results in 7.1% of all roadway fatalities each year.
According the to the National Safety Council, the most misunderstood rule of yielding is the requirement that one must always yield to whatever may be to their right at an intersection whether it be a pedestrian, other cars or bicycles. Other instances where drivers are required to yield when a sign is not present is at a crosswalk or for emergency vehicles and police that have their lights on.
The National Safety Council suggests that teens and inexperienced drivers often misjudge gaps in traffic leading to accidents, as well as the elderly, who are experiencing changes in vision and cognitive ability making the complex process of decision making at an intersection, very difficult. Failure to yield right of way can not only be deadly, but also very costly. On average, insurance premiums increase 19% for a failure to yield citation.
#3 Failure to Stay in Proper Lane
Have you ever driven while being tired and hit the “rumble strip” on the edge of the road? Whether you are tired, distracted or have spent to much time in a vehicle at one time, it can be easy to find yourself drifting into another lane or off the roadway. 6.9% of all traffic fatalities are the result of leaving the proper driving lane.
While rumble strips and reflective lane markers may reduce some of these types of accidents, the driver may be abruptly alerted, over-correct and crash as a result. New auto technologies such as lane departure warning systems use cameras to alert a driver when they are crossing lines or lanes on a roadway.
TO avoid such accidents, the National Safety Council recommends three things: keep your mind on driving, keep your eyes on the road and keep both hands on the steering wheel.
#2 Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol, Drugs or Medication
11% of all traffic fatalities in 2015 were the result of driving under the influence. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 1/3 of all traffic fatalities are the result of accidents resulting from drivers who are under the influence.
Not only can the decision to operate a motor vehicle result in death, it can also result in loss of driving privileges, rack up expensive court and legal fees and increase insurance rates by as much as 92% for up to five years!
#1 Speeding, or Driving too Fast for the Road Conditions
Speeding was the cause of over 30,000 road-related deaths in 2014. Approximately 18% of all traffic fatalities occur because of one common human err: we tell ourselves “it won’t happen to us” or that “speeding isn’t that big of a deal”. A spokesman for the IIHS states that statistics show a clear correlation between lower speed limits and a reduction in roadway fatalities. In addition to exceeding posted speed limits, drivers sometimes loose control of a vehicle when the road conditions are poor or change and fail to adjust their speeds accordingly.
What You Expected?
Do these top five behaviors surprise you? Or are you surprised that one behavior is not deadlier than another? The fact of the matter is, all these types of accidents are preventable, and you can do many things to do your part to ensure you are not responsible for a traffic fatality in one of these areas.
Defensive driving courses are a great way to get a “refresher course” on the rules of the road and become educated about any changes in traffic laws. Many defensive driving courses are tailored to certain ages groups (such as Alive at 25 for youthful drivers) so you can be sure to find a course that suits your needs. Additionally, you can earn anywhere from 2-5% rate reduction on your insurance
when you participate in a defensive driving course.