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More than 37,000 people died in car accidents in the United States in 2016, equivalent to a death every fifteen minutes. Despite this, drivers often become complacent about the risk of driving, and often develop poor driving habits. These dangerous behaviors can result in car accidents that are sometimes fatal, and often cause devastating, life changing injuries.The following are some of the most common driving habits that you should always avoid to minimise risk to yourself, your friends and family, and all those with whom you share the road.

Distracted Driving

It can be tempting for some of us to check our phones immediately after receiving new texts, Whatsapp messages, or Snapchats, but doing so poses a serious danger to your own life and others. Is checking in while on the move really worth risking death or disability? Distracted driving, often caused by the use of mobile phones, is one of the most significant contributors to car accidents in the US and worldwide. If you find it difficult to summon the willpower not to check that ever so tempting message that just arrived, you can make your life easier by keeping your phone on airplane or silent mode while driving, or even shutting your phone off.

Speeding

The faster you go while driving, the more likely you are to be in a crash, and the worse any crash you’re involved in is likely to be. As your speed increases, your ability to control and maneuver your vehicle is reduced, and your stopping distance is dramatically increased. The time and distance it takes to stop a car is comprised of two factors: thinking distance, and braking distance.

Thinking distance is defined as reaction time it takes for a driver to go for the brakes, and can be dramatically exacerbated by a distracted driver. As speed increases, the distance covered in the thinking time increases, and the time required to actually brake (braking distance), also increases. Keeping to the speed limit, and maintaining a safe speed in icy or wet conditions keeps you safer, dramatically reducing your risk of collision.

Driving Under the Influence

In the U.S, driving under the influence is the leading cause of fatal vehicle accidents. According to Department of Transport statistics, three people die every two hours in alcohol-related vehicle accidents, representing nearly 40% of all driving related fatalities.

Alcohol increases reaction times, and reduces your vision, perception, tracking, psychomotor skills, and your ability to divide your attention effectively. A reduction in any of these increases your risk of an accident on the road. As such, it is critically important to avoid driving while under the influence of any substance. Avoiding drunk-driving is not difficult. When planning on drinking away from home, just ensure you have a designated driver, or take a taxi, to keep yourself safe and avoid a tragic end to your evening.

Not Wearing Seat Belt

According to prominent university studies, backed up by government statistics, wearing a seatbelt more than halves your risk of both death and injury should you end up in a car accident. Seatbelts are integral safety features in cars, and work in conjunction with airbags, and the car’s crumple zones. Neglecting to wear your seatbelt reduces the effectiveness of these measures, undermining the function of the car’s cohesive design to ensure your safety in an accident.

Buckling up is a simple act, but many drivers end up forgetting it or ignoring it all the same. Such forgetfulness or dismissal of its importance can cost you your life, and in an instant may destroy the lives of your family. Don’t risk death for a few seconds of time.

Drowsy Driving

Driving while tired presents many of the same risks as driving while distracted or while drunk. When a driver is tired, their reactions are slowed, and their focus compromised. Therefore, it is crucial you have sufficient rest before getting behind the wheel. If you find yourself drowsy on the road, find a safe place to take a break, and have a quick nap. It’s far better that you take a little longer to get to your destination, than you cause an accident, risking your life and others.

 

Driving provides us with incredible freedoms, and is of great benefit to us and to society. Despite this, we should not become complacent about the risks it entails, and should take care to drive sensibly, avoiding bad driving habits, to stay safe on the roads. Following this simple advice can dramatically reduce your risk on the road, making you a far better driver.