Sunday, January 6, 2013

Drive to Survive

Killed: 32,367 real people in motor vehicle crashes in 2011, including Dustin Finney, 28 years old.

We want to make it to 2014, right? And with all our parts working properly? Here’s some information to help us make informed decisions about our driving this coming year.

According to a preliminary report of the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) between January 2012 – September 2012, 25, “an estimated 25,580 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes. This represents an increase of about 7.1 percent as compared to the 23,884 fatalities that occurred in the first nine months of 2011.” 


Those are scary numbers (even without the increase). That is 2842.22 people per month, roughly 95 people per day. Real people, like Dustin. Not just “the driver,” “a passenger,” “a pedestrian.” Real people, like me and you. And your children or parents or spouses or siblings or friends.Your passenger?

We tend to think it’s “the other guy” causing all this destruction. No. Those aren’t serial killers out there mutilating and destroying people from their driver’s seats. Again, it’s real people – caring, loving people like you and me – who are doing it. And this is how:

Driving under the influence: 31%
Distracted driving (phones, GPS, radio, disruptive passengers, emotions, dropping something, eating)
Driving while drowsy
Reckless driving (speeding, unsafe lane changes, tail-gating, etc)
Running red lights and stop signs
Driving in adverse weather
Late night driving
Vehicle malfunction

And don't forget to wear your seatbelt (more than 50% of people killed, aren't)!

I’ve seen statistics that 85-90% of all crashes are due to driver error of one type or another. Isn’t it about time that we notice what we are doing and decide to do it differently?

I’ve always been positive I’m one of the best drivers on the road. But have I run the red because the green didn’t last long enough? Yes. Have I driven in icy weather even though I didn’t really have to but I wanted to? Yes. Have I fallen asleep at the wheel after working the graveyard shift? Yes. Have I tail-gated because the driver in front of me shouldn’t be in that lane going so damned slow? Yes. Have I used my cell phone while driving? Yes. And… have I driven drunk before? Yes, I’m ashamed to say I have.

And every single one of those things I have now consciously decided I don’t do anymore. It takes constant reminding. Constant. I don’t always succeed 100%. Even with my son killed by a bad driver, I have to remind myself constantly to drive more safely, more consciously, more courteously. And when I’m not worrying about all the other still bad drivers out there, I can admit that it feels better to drive better. It is a weight off my shoulders to not always have to be first, to not always be in a hurry, and to remember: there are real people in those other cars, on that bike, walking. 

Make the decision to drive safely. Start today, continue tomorrow. Because you don't want to be a Dustin Finney or an Ashawntae Rosemon. Or their mothers.

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