The National Safety Council (NSC) reported that in 2019, “an estimated 38,800 people lost their lives to car crashes.” Although that’s a 2% decrease compared to 2018, it reminds us of the significance of motor vehicle safety.
Each of us can contribute to the overall welfare and safety of the roads we travel. In this post, we’re going to look at some facts and myths about motor vehicle safety, as well as things you can do to be a safer driver.
Motor Vehicle Safety Myths
Sometimes conventional wisdom isn’t so wise. Here are several motor vehicle safety myths:
Myth: You Can Multitask And Still Fully Focus on the Road
You cannot fully focus on the road and do something else at the same time. This helpful graphic from the NSC shows what happens to our brains when we’re listening and driving. Our ability to process moving images while listening to someone talk decreases by up to 33%, making us less focused as drivers.
Myth: One Alcoholic Beverage Won’t Affect Your Judgement
Alcohol affects people differently, and even one alcoholic beverage can alter your thinking and response time while driving. The NHTSA reports that even with a BAC level of .02, you’ll likely experience these effects:
- “Some loss of judgment”
- “Altered mood”
Myth: Children 5 and Older Don’t Need a Car Seat
Not all children at the age of five can begin wearing a seat belt — this will depend on their growth and several other factors. Typically, children at this age would graduate from a rear-facing car seat to a forward-facing car seat. A few other questions you should ask are:
- Does the seat belt fit my child properly?
- Does their back rest properly against the back of the seat?
- Are they able to sit up straight while riding without wiggling and moving around?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides a helpful car seat guide if you have more questions about your child’s safety while riding.
7 Motor Vehicle Safety Tips
Here’s a quick list of seven road safety tips to keep in mind while on the road:
- Don’t text while driving — It can wait. While you may be tempted to see who texted you and what they had to say, seeing that text isn’t more important than someone’s life.
- Drive with others in mind — Defensive driving means you’re taking precaution and making judgements ahead of time concerning other drivers. When approaching an intersection, slow down and pay attention to other drivers, even if they don’t have the right of way.
- Don’t leave your kids or pets in the car — In 2019, “52 hot car deaths” were reported (NHTSA). More than half of hot car deaths occur because of a child left in the car. Pets have also been victims too. One way to prevent this is to always check your backseat before getting out of your car, especially if you have a child or pet.
- Pack an emergency kit — Accidents happen — someone can get sick or you may experience car trouble. One way to be prepared in the event of an emergency is to pack a kit. Put together a duffle bag with a towel, trash bags, first aid supplies, and also consider having a jack and mat in the trunk just in case you have car trouble.
- Avoid multitasking — If someone calls and your car allows, set up your phone so that the call goes to Bluetooth and you can hear them through your car’s speakers. If not, an even safer route is to set up your phone so that people automatically get a message while you’re driving that you can’t respond. When you’re able, you can pull over in a safe location and call or text them back.
- Look more than once before backing out — Often, we assume that others will see us when we’re backing out and stop, but not everyone will. When you’re backing out of a parking spot or a driveway, turn and look over your shoulder twice. Also, ease your way out, giving yourself the chance to stop if you may need to.
- Don’t drive while under the influence — This also includes being under the influence of some prescription medication. No matter how confident you feel about driving, it’s not safe to operate a vehicle after drinking. Getting behind the wheel puts your life and others’ at risk.