Most drivers don’t realize that 6.3 million car crashes take place on the roads each year. Many of these accidents involve good drivers. Here are 5 of the most common mistakes that good drivers make and how you can avoid them.
1. Too Much Confidence
You’ve been driving forever and you have to admit, you’re a pretty good driver. Guess what .. just about everybody on the road thinks they’re a great driver and most of them disobey driving safety on a regular basis, using cell phones or thinking the speed limit equals what the sign reads + 5.
Take some time to evaluate your driving weaknesses and don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your vehicle’s advanced safety features will be enough to keep you safe on the road.
According to a study at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, 80% of crashes are preceded by some form of distraction. At 60 mph you can cross the distance of a football field before getting your cheeseburger and fries out of the bag. How many things do you think can happen before you make it to the end zone?
Cell phones are a great example of multi-tasking while driving. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that talking on your cell phone increases the chances of a crash by 4 times. Hands free models don’t help reduce the risk either. If you’re not focused on the road, you’re not focused on safe driving.
3. Using the Backseat as a Trunk
For many drivers, the backseat is often a quick alternative to the trunk. We fill it with groceries, let our pets go for a ride or maybe toss a soda can back there for later. These are called loose unsecured items and they are also the cause of 13,000 injuries every year.
In a crash you stop moving but your loose items do not. Even at slower speeds of 30 mph, items can hit with tremendous force. Imagine your 60 lb pooch slamming into your back with twice the force of a silverback gorilla or maybe your cell phone smashing into your child’s face with the force of a concrete cinder block.
Clean out your trunk and start using it to store loose items. Keep smaller items in closed compartments and make sure animals are secured snugly in place.
4. Drowsy Driving
Most drivers will admit to driving their vehicle while drowsy. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1 out of 5 drivers admitted to actually falling asleep at the wheel in the last 12 months.
If your body is tired then you need to stop driving. Drinking coffee and sticking your head out the window at 60 mph is not a solution to the problem. If you’re on a long trip, stop every 100 miles and get out to stretch your legs and if you’re feeling tired, try stopping for a 20 min power nap.
5. Thinking Green Lights Mean Go
You’re a good driver who yields when required and stops at every red light. That’s great but 1 of 3 drivers surveyed admitted to running a red light or rolling through a stop sign without coming to a complete stop. Just because you have the right of way does not mean you won’t get into a serious accident.
Make a habit of looking both ways at intersections, even if the light is green and be prepared to prevent another driver from causing an accident. Never trust the other drivers on the road and expect them to always do the right thing.