I should have written this blog last week. I might have saved a life.
Yes, I got through Thanksgiving amidst the local traffic swarms. However, I did not drive over the hill to grandma’s house as millions of Americans did. I missed most of the fifty million citizens or so who were on the road driving this 4-day holiday.
National Safety Council (NSC) estimated 433 people would be killed and another 52,300 would be injured in car crashes during the Thanksgiving holiday. Actual figures are not available yet but every year it’s about the same.
So much so, Thanksgiving is known as the biggest traffic build up of the year—more than New Years, Christmas and all other holidays. That’s among many reasons a number of Americans don’t ever arrive to grandma’s or return home ever again.
I thought about it and asked myself: Why do all these accidents occur? I think that a lot of auto accidents are caused by “stupid drivers’ tricks” (Thanks, David. Letterman- “Stupid Pet Tricks”). Here are a few of my favorite stupid drivers’ tricks:
GOT YOUR BACK: Of course, you do. In this case, you are following the driver in front of you so close you are breathing his exhaust fumes. That is, until the driver in front of you decides to do a slow right turn (no signal, of course). Or the line of traffic does a quick halt because a cow was crossing the road.
In either case it’s a bang job for both of you. Only you will be charged because you were following too close. Welcome to one of the Number Uno causes of traffic mishaps in all of America. “Your vehicle was not under your control” or something like that is written on the ticket.
Oh yes, to get you thinking about it—the average stopping distance from 60 MPH to zero is 180 feet. Your reaction time is at least one second (experienced driver) or 88 feet. Meaning, based on those numbers you need 268 feet to stop completely. Good guess is 4–5 seconds. If you’re texting, fatigued, drinking earlier…Oh well. S___, happens.
TURNING RIGHT LOOKING LEFT: You’re in a hurry (what’s new?) You pull up to the intersection planning to make a quick right. Looking left…no cars coming. You make the turn and collide with a 10 year old on a bike with Jell-O for brains coming fast right down the sidewalk. Now you have to pick up the pieces.
MINDFUL OF YOUR MIND: Distractions. Remember your job as the driver is to get yourself and your passengers from point A to point B safety. The awful truth that driver distractions are another number one cause of automobile mishaps. Cell phones/texting have gotten a lot of negative media attention recently — but other more low-tech distractions cause most traffic accidents. Have you ever spilled hot coffee on yourself? Dropped something on the floor and picked it up while driving? These are two of the distractions drivers cited most frequently as reasons for their road traffic accidents, according to a recent study done by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).
Fiddling with a radio or climate control system is the next most-cited distraction. Believe it or not, some commuters regularly read the newspaper, shave, or apply make-up on their way to work. The fact that most of them are operating a motor vehicle at the same time doesn’t seem to concern them. NETS suggests that you allow plenty of travel time, preset your climate control and radio, and put all reading material in your trunk.
A COMBINATION OF TRICKS: I mention speeding, changing lanes too often, aggressive driving, and driving under the influence (DWI)– all of these driver tricks are on the blackboard of accident causes. We didn’t not get them all in this blog. You get the idea. Why die on a holiday? Or any other time in your car, really. Make yourself bulletproof to these stupid driver tricks. And come home from grandma’s house in one piece.
As my father used to say as I happily slide in the driver’s seat of the family car.I was fully ready and able to fly the parental nest.
“Be careful, son. You might meet another fool out there.”