I read that 2016 was a bad year for fatal car crashes. What could we do differently to reduce the number?
Gary Jaffarian will discuss the fatality statistics and why they are growing, rather than declining.
I also read the reports from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). They reported that 2016 had the highest number of fatalities in nine years. This is more than 35,000 lives lost in the U.S. from motor vehicle accidents. I often write about the technology in newer model vehicles that helps prevent accidents, however, the bottom line is nearly 95% of accidents are caused by human error or factors I also write about—distracted driving, driving while drowsy, drunk, buzzed, or under the influence of medications, illegal substances, or marijuana. My belief is that the number is growing as the use of hand-held devices increases.
It is the law in Massachusetts that teen drivers cannot use a cell phone at all when driving. There is a penalty if they are caught. The penalty for cell phone use is as follows: 1st offense-$100 and 60-day license suspension and attitudinal course; 2nd offense-$250 and180-day suspension and for 3rd or more offense-$500 and a1-year suspension. Texting at any age also carries a fine of $100, $250 and $500.
While new technology allows teens to answer a call without taking their hands off the wheel, being on the phone remains a distraction. Teens also tend to drive older model vehicles that may not be blue tooth compatible which raises the risks of being distracted.
I remember seeing on the news last year that a father in Massachusetts called his son. His son answered his cell while driving and then accidently dropped the phone. While talking to his Dad, he reached down to pick it up with his eyes off the road for only a few seconds, and then he crashed. That was the last time that Dad ever spoke to his son. This is not just a teen problem. We all tend to think we are invincible. It will not happen to me. Remind your teen to not text or use their phones while driving and be a good role model and practice the same safe driving habits of putting your phone away or taking the time to set up your Bluetooth.
10 Don’ts to Make Our Roads Safer:
- Don’t send or read texts. The later model Toyotas and Volvos allow you to press a bottom to listen to a text if you have synced your phone with your vehicle’s technology. If you don’t know how to do that, stop by Jaffarian Volvo Toyota and one of our sales or service staff can do that for you. We have a service on Tuesdays and Thursdays called “How Do I…?” where you can simply stop by, or call ahead and we’ll accommodate your schedule.
- Don’t drive when you are under the influence—of alcohol, prescription drugs that cause drowsiness, illegal substances, or pot. Remember, if you are just a little “buzzed” you are driving under the influence and can get stopped for a DUI.
- Don’t talk on your cell phone—unless you have Bluetooth technology that allows you to keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. Whenever possible, a good habit is put your phone in your glove box or out of reach and check it immediately once you are parked. It can wait.
- Don’t drive when you’re sleepy. Did you ever fight to keep your eyes open? Pull over and get some rest. Try drinking coffee, opening the window and turning the music up. Go ahead, no one is listening—sing loudly to the music. That will help you stay awake.
- Don’t pick something up off the floor or fish for something in your glove box. I often see people leaning over while they are driving. Never take your eyes off the road to find something.
- Don’t drive with pets on your lap. Keep your pets restrained in a travel case or in seat belts designed for pets. . You are risking their safety if you are in an accident and having them in your lap affects your driving.
- Keep your speed down to within 5-10 miles of the speed limit, especially on the highway, and drive the speed limit on back roads in good weather. In inclement weather, including rain, freezing temperatures, and snow, drive under the speed limit. Weather conditions are another cause of accidents, not blamed on human factors, but are still influenced by the drivers.
- Don’t tailgate. Too often I see people on the highway driving 70 m.p.h. with only the distance of one car length between them, not the 7 car lengths you learned about in driver’s education. When you’re behind a commercial truck or tractor-trailer, stay a safe distance away. If the truck were to stop short, you risk getting caught under the rear underride guard.
- Be cautious of pedestrians when driving in neighborhoods or side streets at night. Many pedestrians still wear dark colors at night and are difficult to see. In the U.S., three-quarters of the pedestrians killed by a vehicle were walking on the street after dark.
- Distracted driving is anything that takes your eyes off the road and/or hands off the wheel. I am amazed at what I have observed people doing while driving including: eating, drinking, putting on make-up, shaving, reading the paper or a map, looking for something in the console or glove box, looking at a passenger, checking on a baby in the back seat and even kissing!
At Jaffarian Volvo Toyota, we sell vehicles that have crash warnings, pedestrian detection, steering wheel controls (for radio and cell phone), lane departure alert, voice command, automatic high-beam lights, and more to minimize your chances of a crash. While the new technology is extremely helpful in preventing accidents, it is still entirely up to the driver to make good decisions.
Let’s work towards making 2017 a safer year on the roads. Together, we can make the roads safer and save lives.