COMMENTARY -- FOR THE ROAD: Tips for reducing chance of fatal car crash

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cody Sturgeon
  • 99th Air Base Wing Safety Office
In 2007, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department reported 2,952 car crashes within the city limits--of those, 133 were fatal.

If these numbers weren't large enough--38 of the fatal crashes involved alcohol.

We can't control what everyone else is doing on the road, and we can't always avoid a crash, but we can reduce our chances of becoming a statistic. It's simple; follow safe driving tips such as:

Stay alert - How many times have you heard "I never saw him!" or "Where did he come from?" Virtually all collisions involve inattention on the part of one or both drivers. Inattention can involve many things, some of which are daydreaming, distractions, sleepiness, fatigue or talking. By simply keeping your attention on the task at hand, you can dramatically reduce your chances of being involved in a car accident.

Don't speed - Driving at excessive speeds results in two things: It cuts your reaction time in half and increases the stored impact energy. According to www.RoadtripAmerica.com, it takes an average human .75 to 1.5 seconds to react to a hazard. By speeding, are you really getting to your destination that much quicker?

Here's a scenario: Two cars are traveling 50 miles. Car A is going 65 mph and car B is going 85 mph. The difference in arrival time between the cars is only 8.7 minutes. So I ask you, is 8.7 minutes worth the rest of your life?

Avoid distractions - Some of the most common distractions are eating, talking on a cell phone, applying makeup and changing the radio station or a CD. So, if we go back to the average human reaction time (.75 -1.5) and we add in the distraction of reaching for a dropped cell phone, how much time do you have to react to a hazard now? Is that phone call worth risking your life?

Drive predictably - The best thing you can do is let the other cars know where you are and what you're doing. Always try to stay out of others' blinds spots. If they can't see you they can't avoid you. Drive with your lights on during the day to give yourself that much more of a profile. Slow down and give yourself time to stop. It gives the other drivers time to see the brake lights. Communicate your presence and intentions to other drivers and help them avoid colliding with you. That's ALWAYS a good thing!

Use these tips to help make your next drive a safe one, and don't become a statistic.