It’s the last week of the annual National Safety Month sponsored by the National Safety Council, and each week of the month has a different theme related to helping you stay safe at home, work, and on the road. We’ve been posting articles related to the theme for each week, including topics such as how to create a home emergency kit and the benefits of a neighborhood watch.
The theme for the last week of the month is Sharing the Roads Safely, which is appropriate given that according to the American Automobile Association over 43 million Americans are expected to take to the roads during the upcoming 4th of July holiday weekend—a new record for holiday travel. As a local home security company, we’re primarily concerned with your safety before you leave the house, but we also want to make sure you stay safe outside the home. Please keep in mind the following safe driving tips to help you stay safe on the roads.
Avoid multitasking while driving
You’ve probably heard that distracted driving is now one of the leading causes of accidents and deaths on our nation’s roads. In fact, in 2014 it was responsible for 26% of road fatalities according to the National Safety Council. However, what you may not know is exactly what types of activities can cause potentially fatal distractions while driving.
For example, you may not consider talking on a hands-free wireless device to be a distraction. After all, you are looking at the road, and both hands are on the wheel, so what’s the risk? If you believe that talking on a hands-free device while driving is safer than using a handheld phone, you’re not alone—according to a recent opinion poll, 80% of Americans agree with you. Unfortunately, in this case 80% of Americans are wrong—talking on a hands-free device while driving is NOT safer than using a handheld phone.
The reason this is the case is that our brains simply are not designed for multitasking. Studies have shown that activity in the area of our brains responsible for processing moving images decreases by 1/3 when we listen to someone talking on a phone. As a result of this information, many companies are now banning their employees from making any work-related phone calls while driving, even if they are using hands-free devices.
Other than talking on the phone, other activities that can distract you while driving include eating, texting, conversations with other people in the car, or operating various devices built in to your car like the radio or a GPS system. Remember, just because a car manufacture puts a device in a car doesn’t mean it’s safe to use while driving.
Don’t drive while impaired
Impaired driving is the leading cause of death on the roads. Specifically, alcohol-related impaired driving accounted for just over 30% of the 34,400 traffic deaths in the U.S. in 2014. Hopefully, we don’t need to tell you that driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of drugs and alcohol is a bad idea.
However, impaired driving can also be as a result of fatigue. Did you know that simply being awake for 17 hours has the same effect on performance as having a blood alcohol level of .05? That’s why people who work in the transportation industry, such as pilots, truckers, and train engineers all have mandatory rest requirements and duty time limits. If you feel drowsy when you’re behind the wheel, find a place to park and take a nap—don’t risk your life or the lives of other drivers by driving while fatigued.
Don’t drive too fast
Another leading cause of fatal accidents is driving too fast. This doesn’t necessarily mean exceeding the posted speed limit. In certain weather or traffic conditions, a safe speed may be below the posted speed limit. Arriving at your destination a few minutes faster is not worth risking your life. Slow down and drive at a safe speed to protect yourself and other drivers.
By following these safe driving tips as you travel this holiday weekend or any other time you drive, you’ll drastically reduce your chances of having an accident and increase your chances of arriving home safely. Of course, if you want to reduce your chances of arriving home safely only to find that your property has been burglarized, then don’t forget to arm your home security system before you leave!