When it comes to staying safe on the roads, most people know that they must invest in things like car repair when necessary. However, funneling money into a vehicle is not the only way to keep it safe. Drivers must also look at what they're doing when they're behind the wheel. Knowing how to improve these practices and increase safety for everyone on the roads can make a huge difference to drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.
Dangerous driving persists
AAA recently released a report detailing some of the habits Americans display on the roads. According to the results of the survey, U.S. drivers have some real reasons to watch their highway behaviors: About 1 in 5 were in a car crash themselves, while approximately 1 in 3 know someone who was seriously injured and 1 in 10 have been hurt themselves.
"It is very disappointing that we continue to see a prevailing attitude of 'do as I say, not as I do,' where large numbers of motorists seem to recognize the risks of certain behaviors but do them anyway," said Peter Kissinger, President and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "Enhancing the safety culture in society must begin with each individual."
The biggest offenders
The survey noted a few habits that were particularly prevalent. For instance, almost half of respondents admitted to speeding more than 10 miles above the limit in non-highway areas, despite the fact that 65 percent claim it's unacceptable. Similarly, about 36 percent say they run red lights. However, 55 percent think this practice is a serious threat to safety, and 73 percent believe ignoring the traffic light is completely unacceptable.
Distracted driving continues to be a major problem as well. Approximately 30 percent admit to being drowsy behind the wheel, which decreases alertness and makes them prone to accidents. Additionally, 27 percent reported sending texts or emails while operating the car, even though 84 percent of people said it was completely unacceptable to do so. While hands-free technologies may make it easier for people to use electronics, these tools don't necessarily increase safety. In fact, they might actually be more distracting than the original devices.
"Despite the growing body of research that offers evidence about the possible dangers of using hands-free technologies, most drivers don't understand the risks and continue to use these technologies," Kissinger said. "The good news is that we all have the ability to make safer choices, and can personally enhance our safety while driving."
What drivers can do
Most motorists know what they're supposed to be doing behind the wheel and recognize when their behaviors become dangerous. They just have to make smart decisions using this knowledge. Start by going over the rules of the road, especially any regulations specific to your area. Local ordinances and even speed limits may change often, and it's up to you to stay informed and prepared.
Cars that are equipped with technology that prevents crashes, such as rear-view cameras and similar assistance tools, can be extremely helpful. However, drivers need to be familiar with these amenities so they know what to expect. Different programs will have varying sounds or alerts, and you have to know how to react to each quickly for the tools to be effective.
Make sure you're following an expert's plan for scheduled maintenance, whether that advice is coming from an auto repair franchise or your owner's manual. Something as simple as brake service can pay huge dividends on the road. That leaves no room to skimp.