New Year’s Eve will soon be upon us, and the fundamentals of safe driving deserve consideration. The holidays are a time of celebration. When celebrations go overboard, car collisions can result.
The danger of alcohol out on the roads is prevalent throughout the year. Every day in the United States, almost 29 people die in automotive crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Incredibly, these crashes lead to 28% of all traffic-related deaths. Safe driving is especially key for New Year’s Eve and Day. On New Year’s Day, 50% of fatal crashes involved a driver with a blood-alcohol content of 0.08% or more. Motorcyclists should be especially concerned given the amplification of the hazards they face every day.
Most of the advice related to staying safe on the road for the holidays has to do with avoiding the problem by curbing drunk driving, using alternative transportation, etc. Instead of covering that ground, we will discuss a few defensive driving tips in case you do have to go out on the road. How can you, as a sober driver, steer clear of trouble?
Various strategies can be used to help you avoid crashes by facilitating defensive rather than aggressive driving. These methods can be particularly helpful at the holidays:
#1 – Give ample room.
Avoiding other cars is a simple element of safe driving. Transportation journalist Matthew DeBord noted that tailgating is “[t]he No. 1 problem I see in everyday driving.” Your follow distance should be at least 2 seconds and ideally 4 seconds, particularly if the weather is bad.
Providing significant distance becomes more important at higher speeds. When you are on a highway, you need to give yourself plenty of room to shift lanes. That way you do not activate anti-lock brakes or get in a collision when moving around other cars. DeBord recommended staying back about three car lengths – and two car lengths in traffic jams. Three car lengths could certainly be expanded.
#2 – For safe driving, be smooth.
You want to exert full control over your vehicle when the roads are rough – as on New Year’s Eve. Stability can be evident in an idea from Jackie Stewart, a car racing legend. Stewart suggested filling a bowl with water, putting it on your dashboard, and seeing if you can drive around without it spilling.
A smooth, steady approach will make you more easily predictable to others, improving your safety. Avoid either braking or accelerating suddenly. Look out ahead of you and know what you will do next well ahead of time. Position both your hands on the wheel as much as possible.
#3 – Concentrate.
Control what you can. Put all your attention on the road.
Consider cutting your speed a bit given the climate. Speeding increases damage from collisions and reduces the time you have to avoid one.
Put your phone away. It is a key source of distraction, a nemesis of safe driving.
#4 – Deal with overconfidence
If you make every effort to drive safely, you may start to think you can conduct maneuvers that do not give you sufficient room for safety. This issue is central to drivers failing to be practical when it comes to driving safety, per the IIHS’s Russ Radar. “We all think we’re good drivers and it’s all the other drivers out there that are dangerous,” Radar said. He added that people could become much safer by simply self-examining and improving their own efforts.
#5 – Stay alert, and get sleep.
Sleepiness is a factor behind over 56,000 car collisions each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These types of crashes tend to be patterned as follows: A person is driving alone. It is early in the morning, or late in the evening. A car drives off a highway, resulting in a single-vehicle accident. There is no effort made by the driver to evade the crash.
The people who are at the greatest risk of falling asleep at the wheel are those from 16 to 29 years old, particularly male. Another high-risk group is people whose sleep schedule is often thrown off-course by long or continually changing hours. Your alertness on the road is required for your focus, which can in turn help you maintain safe driving and avoid collisions on New Year’s.
#6 – Be the one who yields.
Crashes often occur when two people want to be in the same place at the same time. Whenever you feel that there is another driver who is challenging the path you are taking, take it upon yourself to yield. Yield regardless if you feel that you have the right-of-way or that the other driver should let you in out of courtesy. Your key concern is that you get home safely. That is driving safety.
Protecting you on New Year’s and every day
Sometimes, despite your best efforts at safe driving, you may get into a traffic collision. Motorcyclists often find these incidents particularly devastating. If you get into a wreck, the legal counsel you choose will help you see just compensation for any injuries or losses you incur. At Farrah Martinez Law Firm, we provide top-notch legal representation to everyday people who have been injured as a result of another person’s negligent acts. See our approach to success.