Aggressive driving, speeding, alcohol, and sleepiness remain the primary causes behind automobile fatalities, according to newly released information based upon research conducted by an array of federal agencies and consumer groups says Sheriff Mike Tregre.
Statistics gathered by the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA, for example, showed that 43,443 people were killed in automobile accidents during 2005, the most recent survey year. Despite a 3% decrease, the number nationally remains unacceptably high and reveals the challenges faced by local and regional law enforcement agencies.
â€œDuring the summer when there are more cars on the road, drivers forget the basic rule of driving, which is to always drive defensively,â€ said Sheriff Tregre. â€œThis remains the single most important principle of safe driving.â€
Meanwhile, the NHTSA study found that more than 15,000 passenger vehicle occupants died in traffic crashes between the nighttime hours of 6:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M.. Other disturbing findings revealed that an estimated 1,000 drivers are killed each month in high speed-related crashes — 66% of those incidents involving a single automobile. Added Sheriff Tregre, â€œAnd, letâ€™s not forget to factor in the ever-present problem of drinking and driving.â€ In 2004, more than 16,600 people lost their lives as a result of alcohol-impaired vehicle operators.
With this in mind, Sheriff Tregre has some practical advice to help keep you and your family safe on the roads this summer:
Drinking and driving donâ€™t mix. According to the NHTSA, three in every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point. It is best to have a designated driver or refrain from drinking than to lose your life, or cause the loss of life of another.
Always travel with a first-aid kit. It can offer a quick bandage, tweezers, or alcohol rubs.
Do not drive impaired, which means a drowsy driver or a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Children twelve years of age or younger should ride in the back seat of the vehicle in age-appropriate restraints. In 2004, there were 495 passenger-vehicle occupant fatalities among children less than five years of age. Of the 495 fatalities, more than 35% were totally unrestrained.
A cell phone can save a life, but it can also cause a collision. It is best that you pull off the road when you need to dial a number or 911.
Use the three-second rule — the suggested time interval that keeps you from tailgating another vehicle too closely and causing an accident.
A vehicle safety kit should be in the trunk. It should include jumper cables, reflective triangles, a blanket, nonperishable food, a flashlight, and other similar safety items. Even if you do not use many of the items, it will provide a sense of well-being.
- Donâ€™t fall asleep at the wheel. According to the NHTSA, most crashes happen when people are alone. In addition, more than 56,000 crashes occur annually in which a drowsy driver is to blame.
Sheriff Tregre concluded, â€œDrive defensively every time you get behind the wheel of your car. Make it your habit. Keep your summer safe.â€