In 2016, over 10,000 people died due to impaired driving. That’s nearly one-third of all driving-related fatalities. While most involve alcohol, various recreational and prescription drugs also lead to many accidents and fatalities.
Every state in the US has the same standard for what constitutes drunk driving: .08% BAC (blood alcohol concentration). This is the legal limit for driving a motor vehicle for people or are 21 years old or older. If you’re under 21 years old, it’s against the law to have any alcohol in your system while driving.
However, you should never assume that just because you’re within the legal limit that you’re totally fine. Even small amounts of alcohol can impact your driving performance.
A person with a BAC of just .02 will start to experience difficulty performing multiple tasks at once. Their visual functioning will also decline. Your judgment will also be impaired, and you may start to feel overly relaxed.
When your BAC reaches .05, information processing, reaction time, and eye movement, all become slowed. You also might become less coordinated and have trouble steering.
When you reach a BAC of .08, your perception and reasoning become highly impaired. Your vision and reaction time may become poor, and you might not be able to have full control over the speed of your vehicle.
It can be hard to figure out how much alcohol will put you above the legal limit. Factors such as gender, food intake, weight, and body type can all affect how quickly and powerfully alcohol affects you. If you ever find yourself wondering how many drinks you can have while still being able to drive legally, the safest and best answer is zero.
You should never plan on your ability to make smart or important decisions while intoxicated. That’s why you should plan ahead so that you can remove the chance of driving while there’s alcohol in your system.
One of the most popular methods is to have a designated driver who will make sure that they don’t drink on the night you go out. You should never assume that someone will volunteer, and you should make it clear who that person is.
If you don’t have a ride home or you’re going out by yourself, then you should prearrange a ride beforehand or plan to use a ridesharing app.
If you’re hosting an event, make sure that there are non-alcoholic beverages available. You also want to monitor your own alcohol consumption so that you can help your guests make smart decisions. When you act responsibly, you can show others that you can have a good time while not drinking excessively or by not drinking at all.
It’s also important that you and your peers hold each other accountable. When you go out with family, coworkers, or friends, make sure everyone is on the same page. Everyone should be encouraging each other to have water in between drinks and also making sure that nobody who is impaired will be driving.
We all know that texting while driving isn’t safe to do. But there were distracted drivers long before cell phones existed. It’s important that drivers know about the various things that can cause distracted driving.
According to research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by New Virginia Tech, when drivers engage in distracting activities, they more than double their risk of getting into an accident. Common activities that cause distraction include interacting with others in the car, reaching for objects, and crying.
The younger population of drivers on the road, especially teenagers, are more prone to engage in distracting activities while driving. It appears to be a more common issue with each new generation of drivers.
Other common causes of distracted driving include:
The research report found that visual-manual tasks (activities that required the driver to look away from the road) lead to the greatest increase in collision risk.
Speeding is another major cause of traffic accidents. When the speeding driver is also impaired, the chances of getting injured in a serious crash increases greatly. Unfortunately, speeding doesn’t have the same social stigma that drunk driving and distracted driving do.
There are several reasons why speeding is dangerous. First, the faster that you drive, the more distance and time you will need in order to stop your vehicle. If you’re speeding and notice an object on the road or a stopped car in front of you, you might not have enough space or time to brake.
Also, high-speed auto collisions tend to result in serious injuries. You’re more likely to get whiplash when you’re in a high-speed accident. Whiplash is when your head whips back and forth after a sudden stop or crash, which causes your brain to hit against your skull. Whiplash can also lead to spinal and neck injuries.
You can also sustain more serious injuries. You might hit your head on the windshield, steering wheel, or some other hard surface. At extremely high speeds, the impact can be so powerful that it can lead to immediate brain damage or even death.
Over one million crashes every year are caused by inclement weather. While most people think that it’s conditions like snow, ice, and fog that are most likely to cause an accident, the real culprit is actually rain.
Over 70% of weather-related car accidents occur on wet pavement and nearly 50% happen while it’s raining. There are a few reasons for this.
First, drivers tend not to be as cautious when it’s raining compared to when it’s snowing or foggy. Second, rain can greatly reduce a vehicle’s ability to gain traction on the road thus making it difficult or even impossible to come to a stop.
You are presented with risks and obstacles when driving at night that you don’t have to worry about when your driving during the daytime. In general, our eyes are very bad, with depth perception during the night. Our ability to distinguish color and our peripheral vision is also diminished.
Since your vision makes up the majority of your reaction while driving, your ability to effectively respond to potential hazards on the road is greatly decreased when driving at night.
Even if you have your high-beam headlights on, your visibility will still be limited to about 400 feet in front of you. With standard headlights, it’s usually less than 250 feet. This all means that you’re going to have less time to react.
Let’s go over the main factors that contribute to the dangers of night driving.
At night, you no longer have natural light to help you see animals, pedestrians, road signs, debris in the road, other drivers, and other obstacles.
It will also be more difficult for you to judge the distance between your vehicle and another vehicle. When you drive at night, you have to rely on street lights and headlights, which won’t provide you with the same visibility that natural light does
Unfortunately, as we get older, our ability to see at night diminishes. Also, older drivers might have reduced visions because of degenerative eye diseases as well as cataracts.
During the winter, our days get shorter, and our nights get longer. This can make rush hour an especially dangerous time to drive. People have to be extra cautious when there is bumper-to-bumper or stop-and-go traffic.
While sleepy drivers can be on the road at any time, you’re more likely to find them driving at night. Being drowsy while driving is always dangerous, but it’s even more dangerous when visibility is greatly reduced.
Impaired drivers are also more likely to be on the road at night, especially on the weekends.
Road construction tends to happen during evening hours when there are fewer drivers on the road. Low light conditions and other factors can be it difficult to notice construction work zones. You can also end up getting blinded by the bright work-lights that they use on their sites.
Before driving at night, you want to make sure that your brake lights and headlights are working properly. You should turn your headlights on about an hour before the sunsets. This will make it easier for other drivers to see you at dusk.
You will want to be careful when you’re using your high beams. Many drivers will turn them on for an especially dark road and then forget to turn them off. You could end up blinding other drivers when you do this.
You should also drive slower. Remember, the speed limit is for optimal conditions. You should drive at a slower pace at night.
Allow for more distance between your car and the car in front of you. And if you’re going on a long drive, you should take breaks so you don’t get fatigued. If you see a driver who is swerving or driving recklessly, do your best to avoid them.
Nobody likes to be tailgated. Yet millions of drivers are doing it all the time. While many do it because they’re running late, others due it because of “road rage” or out of spite. Others do it simply because they aren’t aware of the risks it poses.
Tailgating is an extremely dangerous habit that should be avoided. You should always follow the two-second rule, especially on the highway.
In order to do this, pick a spot or mark on the road. After the car in front of you passes that point, it should take you at least two seconds to also pass that point.
When a driver abruptly stops, the driver who is tailgating behind them usually has little to no time to stop and thus crashes right into them. Also, if you notice someone tailgating behind you, you should make sure that you don’t stop short.
People can get very territorial when they’re driving, but this can, unfortunately, lead to avoidable accidents.
Practically all car accidents are avoidable. By learning about what the most common causes of car accidents are, we can increase our chances of avoiding car accidents and create safer and more friendly roads.
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