The stats don’t lie: deaths on Alabama roadways have gone up sharply.
As of February 17, Alabama State Troopers have responded to 66 deadly vehicle accidents across the state so far this year. During the same time period last year, 50 people lost their lives on our roadways. This represents an astounding 132% increase in fatalities.
Troopers say one of the worst parts of their job is responding to fatal accidents. What’s particularly heartbreaking is seeing a loss of life that could have been prevented. Many deadly accidents, troopers say, involve poor driving habits, including speeding, distracted driving, driving under the influence, and not wearing a seat belt.
The Four Deadly Don’ts
After responding to a preventable fatality, troopers then get the gut wrenching task of having to call the victim’s family members to notify them of their loss. Let’s reduce the number of those calls by shoring up on the following unsafe driving habits.
Speeding – In 2014, a total of 9,262 people died in speeding related crashes. This makes up 28% of all car accident fatalities. That’s right, over a quarter of all crashes involved at least one vehicle that was going over the posted speed limit.
This is an easy one to solve: obey the speed limit. Whatever time you gain in speeding will amount to maybe a few minutes, if you’re lucky. If you’re not as lucky, you may cause an accident that ends up costing you big. In the most horrible of circumstances, your quest to get somewhere a minute or two sooner could end up taking a life.
Distracted Driving – Younger drivers are notorious for texting or playing with their smartphones while behind the wheel. Among drivers 18-24 years-old, distracted driving is the leading cause of death. We can’t lay all the blame for this deadly driving habit entirely on teens and young adults though. An estimated 424,000 people were injured by distracted drivers of all ages in 2013, according to the official government website for distracted driving, distraction.gov.
Distracted driving can be solved simply: put the phone away when driving. Let a passenger take your call or perform a Yelp search or answer a text. If you need to use your phone and are driving alone, then do the smart thing: pull over. It doesn’t take long to find a safe spot and stop the car to use your phone. Taking a minute to do so is surely worth the effort to avoid becoming another fatal driving statistic.
Driving Under the Influence – We’ve seen the public service announcements against it. We’ve read the articles about its victims. We’ve studied its dangers in driver’s education classes. Still, far too many of us continue to put the keys in the ignition and take off after we’ve been drinking alcohol.
A sobering statistic: alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 31% of total fatalities – 9,967 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities – in 2014.
Again, this habit can easily be avoided. Make plans in advance if you plan on drinking outside your home or beyond walking distance to it. You have a lot of options to get you home safely. Call a sober friend to drive you. Take mass transportation. Jump in a cab or ride-share car. Crash at a friend’s place. Whatever you choose to do, it is well worth the money to not seriously harm – or even kill – yourself or someone else.
Not Buckling Up – According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seat belts reduce serious injuries and fatalities by about half. In other words, not buckling up means you are twice as likely to sustain catastrophic injuries or die in an accident.
How long does it take to pull the safety belt across your body and fasten it? Two seconds?
You see what we’re getting at. The amount of time to fasten up is so clearly worth the benefit of reducing your risk of debilitating injury or death by half, it’s silly not to do it. And yet so many of us continue to drive without our seat belts in place.
Teen fatalities: according to the NHTSA, approximately 55% of teens who lost their lives in crashes in 2012 were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident.
Don’t become another victim. Buckle up and encourage your loved ones to do the same.
We don’t want car accident fatalities to continue to rise. Let’s do everything we can to stay safe each time we are in the car.