One life lost is one too many
Have you ever heard someone say or thought to yourself “Why do I have to wear a seat belt?” “What is wrong with going a little over the speed limit?” “We didn’t have all these laws when I grew up.” Well, recent events should serve as a reminder to everyone to slow down, buckle up, and don’t drive impaired. Sadly, Delaware lost six people in crashes over a recent weekend, leaving countless family members, friends and community members to grieve their deaths.
Even one life lost is one too many. Because of this, the Office of Highway Safety is determined to help save lives by reminding all drivers to follow simple rules of the road as you go about your daily lives in the days, weeks, and months to come.
Today, we may drive safer cars on safer roads, but unfortunately, the number of crashes and traffic fatalities nationwide is still quite alarming. According to the World Health Organization, motor vehicle traffic injuries are the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-29 years.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s most current statistics for 2012 reveal there were 92 traffic fatalities per day in the U.S., and 6,454 people injured per day on US roadways. Data also shows that seat belt use saved 12,174 individuals across the U.S. in 2012. Increased use of seat belts across the nation will save more and more lives every year. In Delaware, 101 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes last year; 25 (47 percent) of the 53 motor vehicle occupants killed were not seat belted. In addition, impaired driving contributed to 47 of those 101 deaths in Delaware.
The easiest way to reduce the risk of being involved in a crash is to practice safe driving behaviors. No matter how long you have been driving, or if you just started to drive, here are some driving tips that will help you and your passengers to Arrive Alive.
• Slow down: Research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that for every mile per hour faster you drive, the likelihood of being in a crash increases. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly.
• Never drive impaired: Even one alcoholic beverage can affect your motor skills and cause delayed reaction or blurred vision, impacting your ability to drive safely. Don’t use illegal drugs and get behind the wheel, and follow all prescription drug warning labels.
• Put the phone down: Answering a cellphone call, text, tweet, or post behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 percent.
• Always buckle up: When worn properly, seat belts can enable you to stay in control of the vehicle during a crash, and without a seat belt, you may be ejected from the vehicle.
• Don’t drive drowsy: Being drowsy behind the wheel is enough to increase your risk of being involved in a crash. Drowsy responses can range from dozing off for a few seconds at a time to simply “zoning out” and losing all focus on the road. At highway speeds, one or two seconds of inattention can lead to disaster.
Following these simple driving tips may mean the difference between making it home to your family safely or not. For more information about the Office of Highway Safety’s campaigns to reduce motor vehicle crashes in Delaware, visit www.ohs.delaware.gov.
Jana Simpler is the director for the Delaware Office of Highway Safety.