We ALL think we’re safe drivers. But in 2011, over 32,000 people lost their lives and 2.2 million were injured in motor vehicle crashes in the United States.
It’s important to use common sense and safe defensive driving techniques every time you get behind the wheel. But as a reminder, we put together this hit list (no pun intended) of the top 5 driving habits that cause accidents. Avoid these and you could keep your driving record —and your conscience — clean!
Impaired Driving: One third of all crash deaths in the United Stated involve an impaired driver. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol continues to be an epidemic on the road and DUI accidents are all too common. In fact, according to the Center for Disease Control, one person dies every 48 minutes in the U.S. In Florida, there were 17,748 alcohol-related crashes in 2010. So yes, impaired driving tops the list of accident-causing behaviors in Florida, or any state.
Distracted Driving: According to Distraction.gov, distracted driving can be an activity that takes your concentration off the road — texting, eating or drinking, grooming, watching a video, using a phone, and more. A recent report published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration , states that “3,331 people were killed in distraction-affected accidents in 2011.” Though Florida remains one of the few states where distracted driving is not a specific moving violation, it is crash-causing habit that drivers should break. Any activity that takes your hands off the wheel and eyes off the road is guaranteed to put you at risk of an accident.
Not Using a Turn Signal: It seems like a minor offense, considering the dangers of impaired or distracted driving, but the turn signal is a major player in a lot of accidents. Without it, other drivers can’t anticipate your next move. And don’t forget the impact that your unannounced maneuvers can have on pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcycles. Make it a habit to use your blinkers, and you’ll be making the road a safer place.
Speeding: With 535 speeding-related fatalities in 2009, Florida had the 3rd highest number of deaths among the 50 states, coming in behind California and Texas. Speeding makes quick decisions much harder and wrecks much more common. Stopping, changing lanes, and negotiating a turn all become challenging and even dangerous if you’re exceeding the speed limit. The answer? Slow down.
Failure to Yield Right of Way: This one very simple safe driving technique can cause tons of headaches, and even accidents. Waiting to turn left against oncoming traffic, yielding to the driver on your right at a 4-way stop, allowing pedestrians to cross safely — these are all covered in basic driver’s education, yet every-day drivers end up entangled in unnecessary accidents simply because they forgot to follow the rules of the road.
This short list is just a summary of accident-causing behaviors. It’s always important to obey traffic signs, pay attention to your surroundings, and exercise caution on the road. For more preventative techniques, try taking a Florida traffic school course to brush up on your knowledge and skills.