The longer I live and the more I drive, the crazier the things that I see people do. Of all the things that I...

The longer I live and the more I drive, the crazier the things that I see people do. Of all the things that I write about, driving or riding in a motor vehicle puts one in harm’s way more than anything else. I will go in a few directions with this article, knowing that most of the offenders will not read it. It is important that we always drive defensively. The point of driving is to prevent a motor vehicle collision, no matter who has made the mistake. So fasten your seatbelts, check your rearview mirror and side mirrors and let’s take a journey.

Distractions lead to accidents faster than anything. There are many states that only allow hands-free use of a cell phone. Attempting to read a text, send a text, find a contact or to dial a number or just answering the phone is enough of a distraction to cause an accident. Most phones have a feature that states that the owner is driving and unavailable. Any distraction that pulls someone’s eyes and attention away from the roadway can lead to an accident. We are more disciplined to look at and answer our phones than we are to know when it is inappropriate to do so.

Driving on interstates or limited-access roadways is a both-hands-on-the-wheel experience. Speeds are usually higher, lessening reaction time. Most people exceed the speed limit on these roadways. What makes it even worse is the large number of tractor trailers and commercial vehicles. Throw in drivers that think they own the road, and things become much more dangerous. It is a fact that there are not enough police officers to see all that needs to be seen on our roadways. The key to safe interstate travel is to stay alert at all times and give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. I wish that I could tell you to always give yourselves plenty of space between vehicles, but that is impossible at times. If you break down on the interstate, you must try to get off the interstate. If you are unable to get off the interstate, then you must get your vehicle as far off the road as possible. Using the shoulder of the interstate is dangerous and should only be done in extreme emergencies when no other alternative exists.

We would like to think that neighborhoods are safe places for our children to play, but a roadway is a roadway. I live on a cul-de-sac, but it is no safer than a road that goes all the way through. One must always be aware of people backing out of driveways or driving down the road. Children should not play in the street, but we know that they do. Unless otherwise designated, the maximum speed limit in a neighborhood is 25 mph. Again, accidents occur when people inside or outside of the vehicle get distracted.

I am thankful that we live in a state that requires an annual vehicle inspection. These inspections are designed to check the condition of everything on a vehicle that could contribute to a collision if not working properly. We too have a responsibility to stay vigilant about maintaining our vehicles between inspections. The less a vehicle is used, the more that it needs to be checked.

Motor vehicle injuries and deaths occur each day. Many fatal accidents occur within 2 miles of a person’s home. In other words, fatal accidents occur on roads that people are familiar with. Wearing a seat belt does not mean that a person will not die if involved in an accident, but the chances of staying in the vehicle are much higher with their use. People who are ejected, whether inside or outside the vehicle, stand a much greater chance of dying in an accident. Remember, we all have a responsibility to try to prevent anyone inside or outside of our vehicles from being hurt or killed. Please take your responsibility seriously!

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