For most people with a driver’s license, driving may involve a regular pattern of travel. Perhaps you take the same route to and from work each day, run errands at the same businesses and visit the same spots for entertainment. It can be easy to become bored or even mentally shut down during these trips, and you may have had the experience of arriving at your destination with no recollection of the journey.
Unfortunately, this kind of apathy behind the wheel is common, and it can be quite dangerous. When you are on the road, you would be wise to remain alert, even on familiar roads, and to be aware that many drivers may be placing you at risk through their own reckless behavior.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies over 32,000 fatalities in motor vehicle accidents each year. A large percentage of those deaths occur in California. Safety experts agree that seat belts save lives, and these tragic numbers would likely be much lower if more drivers urged their passengers to buckle up for safety. Seat belts reduce the chances that you or a passenger will be ejected from the vehicle, and they minimize the violent jolt you may experience during a collision.
In addition to wearing your seat belt, you can protect yourself and others on the road by following these safety tips:
- Never drive after drinking alcohol. Even a small amount may reduce your reaction time or impair your decision making.
- Be aware of other substances that may hinder your driving skills, such as marijuana, prescription medications or over-the-counter medicines that may cause drowsiness, such as antihistamines.
- Avoid driving when you are feeling fatigued or have not had enough sleep.
- Do not allow yourself to be distracted behind the wheel; for example, turn your cellphone off or leave it in your purse or pocket.
If the route you are driving is monotonous for you, you may be tempted to speed up to get it over with or make it more exciting. However, speed increases your chances of having an accident because it reduces the time and space you have to adjust when conditions change in front of you. Additionally, high speed often results in catastrophic injuries. Instead of driving faster, it is better to take your time, remain alert and practice patience so you and others may arrive safely at your destinations.