Don't Drive Drunk
More than 30 percent of all auto accident fatalities in the United States involve drivers impaired by alcohol. These accidents led to 11,773 deaths in 2008
alone [source: NHTSA]. Most of those deaths could've been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn't gotten behind the wheel while drunk.
Alcohol causes a number of impairments that lead to car accidents. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, intoxication reduces reaction time and coordination
and lowers inhibitions, which can cause drivers to make foolish choices. At higher levels, alcohol causes blurred or double vision and even loss of
consciousness. Drunk driving isn't just a terrible idea -- it's a crime. In the U.S, getting caught behind the wheel with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08
or higher will probably earn you a trip to jail.
It's easy to avoid driving drunk. If you've been drinking, ask a sober friend for a ride or call a cab. If you're planning to drink, make sure you have a
designated driver. The mild inconvenience of taking a cab home is nothing compared to the disastrous consequences of driving drunk.
As the old public service campaign so succinctly put it, "Speed kills." Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive, the likelihood of your
being in an accident increases by four to five percent [source: ERSO]. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) explains the consequences of fast driving quite simply: "Speeding is one of the most
prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. The economic cost to society of speeding-related crashes is estimated by NHTSA to be $40.4 billion per
year. In 2008, speeding was a contributing factor in 31 percent of all fatal crashes, and 11,674 lives were lost in speeding-related crashes" [source:
For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph (16.1 kph) faster is only going to save you a few minutes -- while increasing your crash risk by as
much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you'll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey
posted speed limits. If you really need to get there as fast as possible, there's one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.
Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is the number of deaths attributed to this seemingly
harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates [source: Live Science]. In fact, those numbers may actually be too low, due to
the continued rise in cell phone use behind the wheel. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn't a big deal, consider this: One researcher
compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a cell phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What's more, working a cell phone behind the
wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
It isn't just cell phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also
diverts a driver's attention in potentially deadly ways. Perhaps the best advice on driving distractions came from rocker Jim Morrison: "Keep your eyes on
the road, your hands upon the wheel."
TEXTING and DRIVING KILLS
Today, we drive safer cars on safer roads; decades of advertisements and public information
campaigns. As a result, the U.S. logged the lowest accident fatality rate ever recorded in 2008
Despite this progress, unfortunately, the number of auto accidents and fatalities nationwide is still
quite staggering: In 2008, there were almost 6 million car accidents in the U.S., leading to more than
37,000 deaths. What's more, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for people
between the ages of three and 34 in this country.
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