5 Ways to Be A Safer Driver in 2020

Please Drive Safely
Credit: Inspiring/Shutterstock
Letís face it. The roads can be downright dangerous out there, filled with distracted, drunk, drowsy or aggressive drivers, not to mention those who feel a need for speed and try to beat red lights. If youíre guilty of any of these behaviors yourself, itís time to make some resolutions to change that. Here are five New Yearís driving resolutions to make for the year ahead that will make the road safer for yourself and other drivers including law enforcement and first responders who risk their lives every day working traffic incidents.

1. Resolve to not drive distracted.

Distracted driving-related crashes claimed 2,841 lives in 2018. Source: NHTSA
This is a toughie with all of todayís technology and all the multi-tasking that goes on in our busy lives, but we know you can do it. Donít drive distracted. It remains a dangerous and deadly problem on U.S roads. Itís also a growing concern for drivers. According to a recent AAA Foundation for Traffic survey, 88 percent of drivers believe distracted driving is on the rise, topping other risky behaviors like aggressive driving, drivers using drugs or drunk driving.

While driver assist technologies are designed to help combat crash risks, there is concern, too, they may also be a contributing factor. The American Automoble Association recently raised concern over the long term use of driver assist technologies, and in new research, found that drivers using cruise control and lane-keep assist are twice as likely to engage in distracted driving behavior compared to when they did not use the systems.

ďThis new research suggests that as drivers gain more experience using ADAS technology, they could develop complacency while behind the wheel,Ē said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. ďOver-reliance on these systems can put drivers and others in dangerous conditions during critical moments.Ē

Here are some tips to follow in 2020:

  • Put your cell phone down and focus on the road.
  • Donít text and drive.
  • Focus on the road.
  • Set your destination in your navigation before heading out on the road.
  • Speak up when youíre a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to call or text for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
  • Resolve to remain an engaged driver even when new advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) technologies are in use. Resolve to know how they work and to understand their limitations.

2. Resolve to not be an angry driver.

49 million (24 percent) of drivers admit to trying to block another vehicle from changing lanes. Source: AAA.
CarProUSA radio show host Jerry Reynolds has addressed the problem of road rage before. According to 2016 AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety statistics, 80 percent of drivers surveyed admitted to expressing anger, aggression or road rage behind the wheel. Tailgating was the biggest offense, followed by yelling at another driver, honking and making angry gestures.

In 2020 resolve to avoid road rage with these tips:

  • Donít Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
  • Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that itís not personal.
  • Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, donít make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.

Also remember to share the road with motorcyslists.

3. Resolve not to drink or use other substances and get behind the wheel.

Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities decreased by 3.6 percent from 2017 to 2018, accounting for 29 percent of 2018 overall fatalities. Source: NHTSA
Drinking and driving deaths may have declined from 2017 to 2018, but alcohol-related crashes are still very much an issue on the nationís roads. According to NHTSA, 10,511 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2018.

In 2020 resolve to:

  • Designate a sober driver.
  • Call a cab or use a service like Uber or Lyft to get home safely.
  • Download NHTSAís SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Appleís iTunes Store for iOS devices. It allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the userís location so he or she can be picked up safe and sound.
  • Not allow your friends to drive impaired.

4. Resolve to go the speed limit and donít run red lights.

Red light running deaths increased 28% from 2012 to 2017. Source: AAA
Speed demons itís time to ease your foot off the pedal. In 2018, speeding killed 9,378 people, and nearly half of those killed were not wearing seat belts according to NHTSA stats. Running red lights is also a huge issue. AAA also recently reported a 10-year high in red light deaths in the U.S., with 939 people killed in red light running crashes in 2017.

In 2020 resolve to:
  • Obey the speed limit.
  • Never run a red light.

5. Resolve to not drive when youíre sleepy.

The number of fatalities involving a drowsy driver was 775 or 2.1 percent of total fatalities in 2018. Source: NHTSA
Drowsy driving is such a big problem on the roads that a growing number of automakers are now offering new safety systems to combat it. These systems are designed to use sensors to help detect driver fatigue and inattention and then warn them about it.

The National Safety Council likens drowsy driving to impaired driving and reports that drivers are three times more likely to be in a car crash if fatigued. Causes include lack of sleep and medications.

In 2020 resolve to:

  • Get more sleep.
  • Be aware of medications you are taking that may cause drowsiness.
  • Get off the road at the first sign of being drowsy at the wheel. Signs include:
    • The inability to recall the last few miles traveled.
    • Having disconnected or wandering thoughts.
    • Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
    • Feeling as though your head is very heavy.
    • Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips.
    • Yawning repeatedly.
    • Accidentally tailgating other vehicles.
    • Missing traffic signs.

The bottom line is that every one of us as a driver has an important role to play in keeping our roads safe so letís all resolve to be better, safer ones in 2020.

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