Accident-Free Driving is No Accident
Americans drive over two trillion miles annually. Vehicles in poor repair cause 5,519,000 accidents each year, even though the latest model cars are manufactured to be less repair-needy.
Thirty-one percent of U.S. fatalities are alcohol related. Look at impaired driving another way—statistics show that fifty-seven percent of fatal car crashes involved a driver who tested positive for alcohol or drugs. Fifty-six percent of those injured in an accident were not wearing a seat belt. One in ten drivers talks on the phone while driving, disregarding state laws. And, hands-free and hand-held phones cause the same level of driving distraction, despite the myth that hands-free is safer.
TOP THREE CA– USES OF TRUCK ACCIDENTS—
- Brake Problem
- Driver Traveling Too Fast for Conditions
- Driver Unfamiliar with Roadway
TOP THREE CA– USES OF PASSENGER VEHICLE ACCIDENTS—
- Distracted Driving
- Drunk Driving: Men are twice as likely as women to choose to drive under the influence of alcohol, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In this column, I am asking you to consider making a commitment to be a 24/7 Decision Driver, so you have the greatest possible control over your safety when driving:
- Drivers do stupid things behind the wheel. If you are keeping yourself aware one-quarter of a mile ahead of you and using your mirrors to scan the panoramic side and back views as well, you can avoid suffering from their stupidity most of the time.
- Passengers distract drivers into stress mode. For fifty years, I have enforced Garro’s Passenger Rules whenever I am driving: Passengers must buckle up or I don’t start the car. Passengers cannot eat, drink (except water), smoke, back-seat drive or otherwise misbehave while I am driving or I immediately pull over.
- Walking, running and cycling adults and children put themselves in harm’s way. The worst driving nightmare involves hurting people. This group of people is the most vulnerable and drivers are called to protect them, even when they will not protect themselves.
- Road repair crews create confusing configurations in and around repair areas. Around 3 a.m. on a warm summer night, with no cars in front of me, navigating my way through a construction maze, my intuition told me to stop my car traveling at the construction area speed of 45 m.p.h., even though several cars were behind me. Good thing! My car came to a stop three feet from the edge of a cliff.
Decision Drivers drive in a dignified manner, respecting themselves, other drivers, rules of the road, roadways and weather conditions. Focusing their attention on a panoramic view all around their vehicles, they focus on both driving safely and getting to their destinations safely. Narcissistic Drivers bring their selfish, self-focus on destination onto the roadways with scant consideration for their responsibilities when operating a moving vehicle. With their narrow view, these drivers concentrate on getting to their destinations within their time parameters.
GARRO’S DECISION DRIVING RULES
- Program yourself before you start your vehicle that you intend to use all your Decision Driving safety skills while you are driving—Remember, it takes your commitment to focus yourself to do all the safe driving activities frequently on each trip, whether near or far
- Make sure you know and stay within the laws of the areas where you are driving—In New York, for example, unmarked cars are watching for telephone talking, texting drivers and are pulling them over and ticketing them with fines
- Focus your attention on your driving like your life depended on it, because your lucid attention can save lives, including yours—That means no eating, telephone talking, texting, or doing any tasks that involve your mind outside of driving
- Be a Panoramic Driver and Drive one-quarter of a mile ahead of your car and scan your side and rear views frequently
- Avoid driving impaired physically, mentally, or emotionally—Your mission behind the wheel as a Decision Driver is to get safely to your destination and to avoid causing others accidents or injuries, either directly or indirectly
- Think the Most Affordable Comfort and Safety Features when buying a vehicle and make sure it has a reputation for proven reliability
- Protect Your Eyes from Bright Sunlight and Headlights with sunglasses and car visors—green or gray lenses are best for long hours of driving under bright sunlight
- Keep to Manufacturer’s Maintenance Guidelines and Check your Tires, Fluids, and Pay Attention to Warnings
- Use the Three-Second Rule When Something or Someone Annoys You Behind the Wheel—Ask yourself if you want to drive safely or let off steam; can’t do both, so take a big breath and bring your stress level back down to normal
The hardest part of Decision Driving for me involved breaking my bad habits behind the wheel that caused me Inattention Blindness—
- Listening to Audio Workshops
- Failing to Take the Time to Get Good Directions, a Good Estimate of Driving Time, and a Heads-Up on the Laws When Driving Out of State
- Failing to Add to My Driving Time Unpredictable Delays to My Destination
- Letting Myself Get Stressed Out Because of Roadway Encounters—Remember, stress is self-abuse and you cause it by your reaction to people, places and things not to your liking
Be good to yourself and treat yourself like the irreplaceable cargo you are whenever you are driving.