Safe driving requires concentration and care, but we do it so often, sometimes we become overconfident and develop bad habits. Dangerous behavior can cause accidents on the road. Here are five bad driving habits and what to do to break them.
Driving under the influence continues to be the number-one cause of vehicular fatalities in the U.S. Three people are killed every two hours in an alcohol-related car accident, according to the Department of Transportation. Though the U.S. has seen significant decreases in the number of these accidents since awareness efforts and legal penalties have increased, many drivers still feel they are okay to drive if they’ve “only had a couple drinks.” This simply is not true. The only sure-fire way to avoid impairment while driving is to not drink at all.
A blood-alcohol level of .08 percent can land you in deep trouble and compromise your reaction time significantly enough to cause serious damage. All 50 states have adopted the .08 percent legal limit, but for drivers under the legal drinking age, this rule does not apply. If you are underage and impaired, any alcohol level is cause for arrest and DWI or DUI charges.
Consequences for the diver can include jail time, community service, fines, and monitoring devices. Worse yet, they can result in injury or death of passengers or others on the road.
Many propose that driving while tired is just as risky and dangerous as driving under the influence. Certain demographics are more prone to driving while fatigued than others, with young people between the ages of 16-29 (particularly young men) being the most likely to fall asleep at the wheel, as noted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Research hypothesizes this heightened risk is because of the natural maturation effects that teenagers experience. The need for more sleep and changes in sleep patterns, in addition to lifestyle influences like school demands, jobs and extracurricular activities, mean that teens are often not well-rested before they get behind the wheel.
Rapidly becoming the dangerous driving epidemic of the modern age, distracted driving includes all of the temptations a cell phone offers: texting, talking on the phone, checking email and posting to social media. Again, teens are the most susceptible to distracted driving accidents, with drivers under the age of 20 having the highest proportion of fatal distracted-driving car accidents, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Distracted driving also includes other bad habits we’ve developed to save time, like applying make up and eating.
Wait until you get to your destination to text or call. If it’s urgent, pull over into the parking lot of a shopping center. Pledge It Can Wait, a campaign to keep eyes on the road rather than on the phone.
If you stop to grab food, eat it in your car or at the food place before you venture back out onto the road. It’ll only take a few minutes and then you’re not scarfing it down while you try to navigate your way back onto the freeway.
The road rule here is simple: the more speed involved, the greater the severity and risk of an accident. Speeding drastically reduces a driver’s ability to maneuver and control the vehicle and increases the distance required to stop a vehicle. Young people are the most likely to be involved in a speeding-related accident, with drivers ages 15-20 the most frequently cited demographic to be cited for the offense, as noted by the NHTSA.
Avoid this high-risk habit by knowing the rules of the road, even before beginning to drive. Pay attention to the current speed limits, be patient and be aware of those driving around you.
Wearing a seatbelt is hands-down the simplest way to prevent potential injury in the event of an accident. Though air bags are a great feature intended to reduce injury in car accidents, they are specially designed to be effective when used in conjunction with a seatbelt. An air bag alone will not save you, and since, according to the CDC, more than 50 percent of teens age 13-20 killed in vehicle collisions in 2012 were not wearing a seatbelt, it is hazardous to drive without engaging yours.
Driving is a privilege and we should treat it as such. Teens are particularly susceptible to picking up bad habits since they’re new to driving. Check out this Parent-Teen Contract. It helps hold teens accountable for their driving habits. Developing good driving habits, and avoiding perilous ones will make you a conscientious and safe driver.