Road Safety Tips for Families
Being safe on America’s dangerous roads
In October 2021, the US Department of Transportation released new statistics that sighted an alarming increase in motor vehicle crash fatalities in the first half of 2021. According to the report, more than 20 thousand people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first 6 months of 2021.
To put that in perspective that’s like losing the entire attendance of a sold-out college basketball game in 6 months. That’s an increase of 18.4% over 2020 and the largest number projected since 2006. So this is a big deal.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also released numbers from March 2020 to June 2021 saying that speeding and traveling without a seatbelt remain higher than pre-pandemic years. And on top of that, pedestrian fatalities are up as well. It seems that traveling on America’s roadways has become less safe.
So let’s talk about what we’re seeing and how we can protect those that we love.
We Are NOT Okay
We know there is a rising trend in motor vehicle and pedestrian fatalities in the US. People are also speeding more and not wearing their seatbelts. And these numbers are up across the board than they were before the pandemic. So let’s start our understanding there.
The pandemic has affected our behavior and our responses to situations. We are all stressed. Life took a big shift and we’re still dealing with the consequences when it comes to employment, social events, supply chain issues, and our kid’s education. These factors are weighing on us and it’s hard to recover.
As Americans are so stressed, our cup is so full, that if something happens, our cup spills over. We don’t have the capacity to relax when someone cuts us off on the highway. Many people go right from calm to rage, skipping past anger. And we wind up with road rage and someone gets run off into the woods.
Another contributing factor is that people are on their phones while driving more and more.
There’s the idea that if someone can get away with texting and driving once, then they always can.
They think they are superior drivers compared to all of the commoners on the road around them. That’s not true. Texting and driving are just as dangerous as drinking and driving.
And another reason the roads are more deadly now is that people are just plain tired. Some people are working longer hours, covering extra shifts because the workforce is dwindling. Medical professionals are pushed to their limit dealing with full hospitals. The list goes on.
And when you are tired behind the wheel, your reflexes and attention are greatly diminished leading to an increased chance they’ll be involved in a collision. It’s simple, the more tired we are, the less responsive we are to threats while driving.
Now that we have a better understanding of why things are happening, let’s see what we can do to protect our families on the road.
The Golden Rule of the Road
When we start the car let’s remember the Golden Rule,
Treat others as you want to be treated.
This means to let someone over in traffic because you’d want someone to do that for you. Forgive a young driver when they make a mistake because you’d want someone to do that for your child.
And don’t tailgate the slow car in the left lane, because you wouldn’t want someone doing that to you or your spouse. This way we can put ourselves in the shoes of someone else because chances are we’ve made a bad decision while driving before and we’ve wanted grace for it. So let’s extend that grace to everyone else.
Slow it Down
Some of you may not want to hear this, but you’re going to need to obey the speed limit. The faster you go the less time your brain has to make decisions and the harder it is to control your vehicle.
I know, I know. I’ve been late before too, but we have to be safe on the road. Give yourself every chance to be successful when you’re driving.
Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear and The Grand Tour said,
“Speed never killed anyone. Suddenly becoming stationary, that’s what get’s you.”
And he’s not wrong. But let’s keep the chances of becoming stationary from a fast speed low. That just sounds like a good idea.
Let’s go back to your driver’s test and remember that you need to try to keep a two-second following distance between yourself and the car in front of you. Now this is good so you can stop or change directions quickly if you need to, but it also helps you with security as well.
If you can keep a good distance between you and other cars, you have more time to study the situation and act accordingly. And giving cars more room is good when you’re stopped, too.
It will be harder for people to box you in at a traffic light or stop sign. This will give you the space you need to move your car out of danger and keep moving. The greater the distance, the greater the chances you have to keep your car and your family safe.
We also need to minimize distractions while we’re driving. I’m not going to act like I’ve never looked at my phone while driving, but I do make a big effort not to use my phone while driving.
I know the wrong song might pop up on your playlist, but you’ll have to let that go. You don’t have to immediately respond to every text. People will understand. Maybe The Secure Dad Podcast will end before you get to work and you’ll have to sit in silence before you arrive. These are small matters in the long run. Stay focused on the road, because there’s a lot of distracted drivers out there.
Wear Your Flippin’ Seat Belt
I can’t believe that it’s 2022 and we still have to tell drivers this… wear your seatbelt. In my life, I’ve been blessed to walk away from two collisions. Both times I was wearing my seatbelt and it made all the difference.
I imagine all of you are wearing yours, so encourage everyone else to wear one especially any teen drives that might be in your home. Wearing your seatbelt is a simple thing to do and it costs you nothing. Plus, it sets a good example for your kids when they see you buckle up.
With all of this said, one of the best things that I do before a trip, and each day really is to pray for safe travels. Give those concerns to God and you focus on the wheel. When I was in my wreck in July of last year, God kept me - and everyone else - safe.
In this new year, commit yourself to be the best driver you can be. Don’t let small things like text messages be the reason you hurt yourself or someone else. Take your time getting to your destination. If we all work on being good drivers then the chances of us being involved in a collision will decrease.