According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day in the US, 9 people are killed and around 1,000 are injured in car accidents involving a distracted driver. Distractions can come in many forms, but cell phones are probably the most common distraction among younger drivers. Whether it is to respond to a text, check a social media feed, or change a song on your playlist, a phone can be a tempting distraction. But it is important to put it down. A large percentage of distracted driving accidents occur while the driver is using a cell phone, so just putting down your phone while driving can greatly decrease your risk of getting into an accident. Other distractions could be things like looking back at a passenger, eating, and applying makeup. If it causes you to take your eyes off the road, you probably should be doing it while driving.
Avoid driving under the influence.
Almost one-third of fatalities caused by traffic crashes in the US are caused by drunk drivers, and these drunk driving accidents often occur around holidays, such as Memorial Day and Thanksgiving. The rule of thumb for this is simple: If you are in any doubt at all about whether you are too intoxicated to drive, just don’t do it. It can be hard to tell how impaired your reactions actually are when you are intoxicated, so just ask someone else to drive or call a ride.
And alcohol isn’t the only thing to watch out for. Drivers under the influence of drugs are also far more likely to end up in a crash, and it isn’t always illegal drugs that cause issues. Many prescription medications can cause side effects like slowed reaction time and drowsiness, so make sure you check with your doctor or pharmacist before driving if you are taking a drug that has these side effects.
Don’t drive drowsy.
It may surprise you to know that driving while tired can impair your reactions almost as much as being intoxicated. Many new drivers wrongly assume they can fight through tiredness without putting themselves or others in danger, but the statistics show that this simply isn’t true. The fact is that around 100,000 police reported crashes each year are caused by drowsy driving. If you are so tired that you fear falling asleep or find your attention lapsing, it is not worth the risk.
Understand and follow the rules of the road.
Lastly, you need to make sure you understand and follow traffic rules. Pay attention in your driving course, and the follow the rules you’ve learned. No matter how tempting it may seem to speed or run a red light, getting into a potentially fatal crash simply isn’t worth it. If you have a driving personality that is prone to road rage, learn some relaxation techniques. By following the rules of the road you’ll not only keep yourself and the drivers around you safer, you’ll also avoid costly traffic tickets.
If you follow these suggestions, you should be on your way to a lifetime of safe driving.