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Avoiding Car Accidents

Thereís a global attempt going on to reduce the number of young people being seriously injured and killed due to auto accidents.  Various people have suggested a diverse range of solutions to the problem.  The solutions have ranged from completely eliminating young drivers from the road to greatly restricting their driving.  However, the younger drivers believe that their driving is not the root of the problem.  To them, the older drivers are the most likely ones to cause these tragedies.  In their opinion, itís the elderly drivers that need to be eliminated or restricted more.

So who is right, the younger or older drivers?  The statistics demonstrate that drivers, especially males, under the age of 25 have the highest accident rate of all the age groups - which is why young drivers' insurance can be so expensive.  There are approximately 23 young people injured or killed in car accidents every day.  Lack of experience, peer pressure/showing off, excessive speed for the conditions, driving while impaired, being distracted, and right out recklessness have all been blamed for these accidents.

According to the statistics males between 16-19 years old are the most likeliest to be involved in this type of driving behaviour.  However, statistics also show there has been an increase in elderly drivers involved in accidents too.  The statistics also show that about 95% of all auto collisions are due to driver error.

Car technology and other traffic technology solutions

Since there are various factors involved causing the accidents, there are diverse solutions that have been suggested.  Auto manufacturers are trying to make travelling on roads safer for everyone by improving car technology.  They are attempting to develop vehicles that pretty much drive themselves, so there will be less chance of human error causing accidents.

These vehicles wouldnít allow a driver to drive too closely to another vehicle, or to go over a safe speed for the road and traffic conditions.  The vehicles would also automatically slowdown and alert the driver to any impending hazards.  Some vehicles are also designed to stop or not start up if the vehicleís computer system senses the driver is impaired due to drugs or alcohol.  The vehicles will even be able to park themselves.  Is this science fiction?  Not really, since some of this technology is already being used in very expensive high-end models of current vehicles.  Unfortunately, most young drivers are unable to purchase the more expensive vehicles with this type of technology.  They can usually only afford older cars that may have defective parts and outdated safety features.

Some areas of the world are using modern technology such as traffic cameras to catch bad drivers.  Many countries, including the UK have started re-evaluating the way roads are built and used.  Studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of signs, road markings, and other safety techniques currently being used.  Driver education and driver testing is also constantly being assessed for effectiveness.

Other solutions

Other attempted or suggested solutions have included such things as curfews for young drivers and stricter penalties for reckless behaviour.  Some places have put restrictions on how many passengers a young driver can have, as well as what ages those passengers can be.  Some others have suggested that there be more driver education, and that young drivers not be permitted to drive unsupervised until theyíre at least 21 years old.  Some suggest that the graduated driver license system should be implemented in the UK, as it has been in the U.S., Australia, and other parts of the world.  Others just think the police need to start enforcing the current laws more.

How drivers can avoid car accidents

No matter what your age is, you can avoid needless auto accidents.  Some of the ways just call for using good common sense.  Other ways may take a bit more conscious effort.  Some of these steps may seem related to one generation more so than another.  However, modern technology, such as mobile phones, is now being used by people of all ages.  Thus, all these steps apply to every driver.

Steps to take:

1.   Become consciously aware of what causes the majority of accidents so you can avoid behaviour that increases the risks.  These are: excessive speed for conditions; night time driving; loss of control; errors of judgment while making right turns or while overtaking another vehicle; rear-end shunts; driver impairment due to drugs, alcohol, or ill-health; improper road usage; driver distraction; peer pressure/showing off; lack of driver experience; over-confidence; and lack of self-confidence.

2.   Be aware of your limits and abilities: Build up your driving experience and self-confidence in a slow, careful manner.  Use familiar routes whenever possible, and avoid driving for more than an hour if youíre inexperienced or tire easily.  Stick to using a low performance vehicle if you donít have several years of driving experience or have health issues that slow down your reflexes and thinking ability.  Most of all, donít give in to peer pressure or try to impress anyone else with your driving skills.

3.   Obey all laws and safety regulations, even if no one else is around or arenít following the rules.  These laws and regulations were designed to ensure the roads are safer for you, your passengers, and all other road users. This means obeying even if a policeman isnít around.  It means always wearing your seat belt.  It also means no overtaking in a no passing zone or when going around a bend.  It also means no use of excessive speed, unless itís a medical emergency, and even then only used with extreme caution.  Always allow extra time to arrive safely at your destination on time, and allow for traffic and weather conditions.

4.   Eliminate or reduce internal and external distractions as much as is possible.  Be sure you know the directions to your destination ahead of time.  Keep the noise level down as much as possible.  Do not receive or make calls or text anyone while youíre driving, even if youíre just sitting still in traffic.  Donít let anyone drink, eat, or smoke while the car is in motion.  Be cautious of using any type of back seat entertainment systems for your passengers, as this may distract you too much.  Be sure you pay more attention to the road and traffic conditions than you pay to your passengers or music.

5.   Donít drive while impaired by drink, drugs, ill-health, or exhaustion.  Donít let your friends and relatives drive while impaired, and never ride with someone who is impaired.  If possible, avoid giving rides to anyone who is drunk or on drugs if you are an inexperienced driver.  They can cause you to have accidents.  If necessary, stay where you are until you can drive safely or arrange for other transportation.  Arrange for alternative transportation or a stay over at a local location if you know youíre going to be drinking or taking. To keep someone else from driving while impaired, take away their car keys.  This may lead to arguments and even end friendships.  However, it could also save your life and their lives.  Which would you rather have, a dead friend/relative or a live, angry friend/relative?  Would you rather be dead or alive yourself?

6.   Keep alert all the time, and keep a safe distance between you and the other vehicles on the road.  You can never be certain when another driver might suddenly stop, swerve, completely lose control, or turn unexpectedly.  You never know when your own brakes may fail.  Driving too closely may cause other drivers anxiety, which can lead to them making fatal mistakes.

7.   Always drive defensively, not aggressively.  Slow down when you come to junctions, or see a car on the side of the road.  Avoid braking sharply, and be leery of road conditions, especially in bad weather.  Always try to control your emotions while driving.  Never use your vehicle as a toy or to vent your anger.  Driving demands clear thinking, balanced emotions, and quick reflexes.

Driving is a privilege, not an inherent right.  In order for everyone to arrive safely at their destinations, everyone must show respect for themselves, their passengers, and for everyone else who is using the road.  No one age group owns the road or has exclusive rights to driving privileges. 

Transportation, especially driving a personal vehicle, is a very important element in everyoneís lives.  Therefore, every driver, whether young or old, must take responsibility for the consequences of poor driving habits.  Every driver must constantly work to improve their driving skills.

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