Driving is an incredibly dangerous activity, especially since there are more people on the road than ever before. In 2016, around 40,000 people died in car crashes, and millions more were injured or disabled in the United States alone. The biggest causes of these fatalities were impaired driving, speeding, and distracted driving. There are 4 ways you can help make your commute safer, particularly if you're an employer.
Defensive Driving Safety Training
The National Safety Council (NSC) created the first defensive driving course in the early 1960s and has been the leader in driver safety training ever since. Defensive driving involves being ready for, assessing, and responding quickly to potential dangers on the road. Some states offer benefits for taking these courses, such as reducing points on your driver's license after a ticket. In other states, taking a defensive driving course could mean a reduction of up to 10% in your insurance rates for a period of 3 to 5 years. In these courses, you would learn about various reasons for traffic crashes, including psychological factors and human factors in the events. You would also learn some techniques for preventing accidents, such as learning the appropriate reaction distance and knowing your vehicle's stopping distance.
Employers Taking Action
Many people drive as part of their jobs, and if their employers are as committed to safety as they should be, they might offer such driver safety courses to their employees. Off-the-job crashes make up about 80% of employer crash-related health benefit costs, and half of car crash-related injuries cause employees to miss work. Because of the high costs of these injuries and accidents, it is in an employer's best interest to ensure an employee can effectively respond to a dangerous situation on the road. Some things employers can do for their employees include the following:
- Help employees understand the risks they face when driving
- Take action to address the risks and implement measures to track progress
- Offer defensive driving courses and other training specific to the risks faced on the road
- Offer programs for employees with alcohol or drug dependency
- Enact a corporate cell phone policy to prevent all cell phone use behind the wheel
- Adopt a policy requiring all employees to wear seat belts
- Ask NSC experts to assess your business's road safety systems
Not Using Any Devices in the Car
It is no longer legal to use handheld electronic devices while driving, meaning people can't talk on the phone or text while in control of a vehicle. However, what many people don't understand is hands-free devices aren't any safer. An NSC public opinion poll showed about 80% of American drivers surveyed incorrectly believed hands-free devices are safer than using a handheld phone. Part of the problem is the myth of multitasking. Many people think multitasking is a natural part being human; however, though you might be engaging in 2 different activities at once, your brain is not paying attention to both simultaneously. Instead, the brain toggles between the two tasks incredibly quickly. This isn't a perfect kind of multitasking. If you are driving and talking on the phone at the same time, your brain may be paying more attention to the conversation than to the act of driving. Studies show the activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening to someone or talking on the phone. This means you may not see up to 1/3 of what is happening outside your windshield. For example, if someone or something moves in front of your car, your reaction time will be slower if you are trying to have a conversation at the same time; those few milliseconds of processing time could mean the difference between a crash and a near miss. Do your best to keep from using your cell phone at all in the car, and encourage others you know to do the same.
Educating Teen Drivers
Teens are some of the most dangerous drivers out there. Car crashes are the number 1 cause of death of teenagers, mostly as a result of inexperience. If you are the parent of a teenager, or you have teenagers in the family, set some ground rules for driving if they have already earned a license. Cell phones should be put in the back seat or trunk, somewhere inaccessible to the driver to prevent them from using it while driving. Likewise, you may also want to keep them from having more than one friend at a time in the car to prevent them from being too distracted. Graduated driver licensing systems have also been proven to reduce crashes involving teens by as much as 40% by minimizing common risks, such as passenger distraction, nighttime driving, and cell phone use. If your teen isn't licensed yet, consider enrolling them in a graduated driver licensing program.
Keep yourself and the people you know safe on the road. However, if you or a loved one were injured by a negligent driver, don't hesitate to call us. Our skilled Albuquerque car accident attorneys have more than 15 years of legal experience to offer your case. Berenson & Associates is dedicated to helping the victims of personal injury seek compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and property damage caused by someone else's negligence. Our founding attorney, Rachel Berenson, has certification in accident reconstruction and has hands-on experience in litigating wrongful death, drunk driving, and texting-and-driving cases. Let us see what we can do for you.
Contact us at (505) 559-4117 or fill out our online form to schedule your free case consultation today.