According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2015 saw the largest increase in deaths due to motor vehicle accidents in almost 50 years. There were over 7 percent more fatalities in the US in 2015 than there were in 2014. This equates to 35,092 deaths that could have been prevented.
The NHTSA attributes 10 percent of the fatalities to distracted drivers, 30 percent to speeders and drunk drivers, and 50 percent to lack of seatbelt use. The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports 60 percent of motor vehicle fatalities on Ohio roadways in 2015 were due to passengers not wearing seat belts. These statistics offer some guidance regarding what you can do to avoid a fatal motor vehicle accident.
Tips for avoiding motor vehicle fatalities
Always wear a seatbelt. If you are the one driving, wear your own seatbelt and insist that all your passengers buckle up, too.
Don’t drive under the influence. If you truly want to avoid an accident, don’t drink and drive. Alcohol affects everyone differently and in different ways each time one drinks. You can experience impairment sooner if you haven’t eaten, are unwell, have taken certain medications, or have been drinking at a faster pace than usual. You should obviously refrain from getting behind the wheel if you’ve been taking illicit drugs. However, many people are unaware that over-the-counter medications, such as cough syrups and flu remedies, contain ingredients that can impair one’s ability to drive. If you think your sleep medication hasn’t kicked in yet and it’s ok to just drive down the block and back, think again.
Follow traffic rules and avoid distractions. Make a complete stop at signs and red lights, use your turn signals, and don’t speed or drive aggressively. Defensive driving saves lives. Don’t talk on your cell phone, especially if you don’t have a hands-free option. Refrain from reading or sending text messages, which incidentally is illegal in the state of Ohio. Don’t apply makeup or engage in other activities that may distract you from focusing your attention on your driving.
The number of avoidable traffic-related fatalities is astonishing given that one simple decision can mean the difference between life and death. Remember, it’s not just your own death you may be preventing, but that of an innocent person who had no control over a situation that you did.