Whether we like to admit it or not, driving a motor vehicle is a dangerous business. It’s the necessary evil we all put up with as we go about our lives. When there’s an accident (or a near accident) we all love to point fingers and say it was the other guy. Yet when polled, a disturbingly high number of Americans regularly engage in some very unsafe driving practices. People do everything from talking on their cell phones to browsing the internet, reading the paper, and doing their hair. And that’s just distracted drivers; there are plenty of other safety violations going on every day as well. Here are some of the unsafe driving practices you should stop doing.
Driving Under The Influence
Even if we think we all know it’s stupid, there are still many Missouri drivers getting behind the wheel after drinking. In the past decade, more than 200 people have been killed and dozens more injured every year in Missouri due to alcohol related crashes. Alcohol (and other drugs) not only impair your driving ability, they also significantly slow reaction times. Although you may be under the legal limit, a small buzz can still be harmful. If you’re planning on drinking, to everyone a favor and get yourself a cab to go home.
Using Improper Speeds
Time and time again, driving at a speed that’s faster (or slower) than the posted limit can be unsafe. Each additional 10 mph over 50 mph doubles the risk of a death in a traffic collision–it’s simply physics. The faster the object is moving, the harder the crash will be. To keep yourself from traveling at unsafe speeds always know the limit, make sure you reduce your speed in school and construction zones, stay in the right lane if you are not passing, and slow down if a another vehicle is tailgating you.
Not Wearing a Seatbelt
Regardless of how silly, inconvenient, or uncomfortable you think it is, wearing a seatbelt can save your life. The National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates over 75,000 lives were saved between 2004 and 2008 from seatbelt use. In Missouri, 63 percent of traffic deaths were drivers and passengers who weren’t wearing seatbelts. Before you get on the road, make sure you buckle up for safety.
Violating The Right Of Way
Failure to yield the right of way is a major contributor to accidents and the offences are many, including general failure to yield, passing at stop signs, merging onto freeways incorrectly, disregarding traffic signals, and speeding. Older adults (age 70 and older) are particularly known for not yielding as they merge onto ramps. There is no law federal giving any driver the right of way; traffic regulations by the state say who must yield the right of way.
Following too closely is one of the biggest reasons for rear-end accidents and, despite its dangers, many people tailgate tractor-trailers to save on fuel economy. Drafting trucks can give you better gas mileage, but trucks can’t see what’s directly behind them, so you could be in trouble if the driver slams on his brakes. In general, there’s a two second rule for following distance, but the amount of time needed to stop is actually dependent on the size and weight of your vehicle. That’s why a bicycle can stop with little notice while a giant SUV requires far more space. Both perception and reaction time are sacrificed when tailgating.
Ignoring Weather Conditions
Rain and snow make for icy roads and trouble for drivers. During this type of weather, the amount of time you need to stop is larger, the visibility is poorer, and driving requires more caution in general. Despite knowing this, many drivers fail to take any extra precautions and the Federal Highway Administration says roughly 24 percent of all accidents are weather related. Especially in places like Kansas City, where winters can be rough, it’s important to make sure your vehicle is in good driving condition.
This is perhaps the biggest category that most people need to work on. We all do it. Answering a quick text, getting the eyeliner on, yelling at the kids in the backseat, and more. Distracted drivers are everywhere on the road – an estimated 660,000 according to the NHTSA. That means you need to be extra aware because the guy next to you is probably as busy scarfing down a doughnut on his way to work as you are looking at your Facebook.
A couple of yawns might seem harmless, but if you’re dozing off while driving you’re just as dangerous as a drunk driver. Being sleepy has many of the same effects as alcohol on your driving skills, including slowed reaction time, trouble concentrating and processing information, increased moodiness, and impaired judgement. If you fall asleep even for a second or two, it could cause a devastating accident, especially since you won’t have the capacity to avoid getting into a crash.
We’re all in a hurry to get where we’re going and there’s perhaps nothing more frustrating than someone right in our way. Needing to pass someone, however, doesn’t mean you should be drive any way you please, weaving dangerously in and out of lanes. The correct way to pass someone is to maintain appropriate following distance, signal left, check blind spots, move into the passing lane (the left one), increase your speed to pass, and then return to the right lane after checking your blind spot.
Contact a Kansas City Car Accident Lawyer
Car accidents range from minor nuisances to devastating collisions. No matter what type of accident you’ve had, we want to ensure you get the help you need for your injuries and any damage your vehicle sustained. The car accident legal team in Kansas City, Missouri at Krause & Kinsman Law Firm have years of experience handling car accident cases in Kansas City, Missouri. We’ll answer any questions you have about making a claim and getting you the maximum settlement possible.
Robert Kinsman is a personal injury, mass tort, business litigation, and employment discrimination attorney who practices in Kansas City, Missouri. He graduated from the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law and has been practicing law for several years now. Robert Kinsman is passionate about normalizing the life of his clients after they have been seriously injured. Learn more about his experience here.