New Year’s resolutions are like New Year’s Eve. They come and go.
They seem like good ideas at the time, but committing to losing enough weight to rock your beach wardrobe, going to the gym five times a week, mastering yoga, and joining a softball league might have been a bridge too far.
Instead, resolve to reach the easiest of the goals, the one that saves lives: Get serious about safer driving habits.
Florida Crash Statistics Keep Piling Up
The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles reports that there are more than 200,000 automobile accidents in the state every year. In fact, traffic fatalities in the first six months of 2016 had Florida on track to become the third deadliest state in the nation, with Texas and California leading the way, according to a National Safety Council report. Auto fatalities were up 43 percent compared with the same period in 2014.
Safe Driving Habits Are Worth Learning
So you decided to resolve to be a better driver. Before putting pen to pad and inking your resolutions, consider some common-sense options:
Know the rules of the road. The Florida Department of Motor Vehicles driver handbook can bring you up to date on laws, and it offers a wealth of other information for drivers.
However, there are laws, and then there are rules of thumb – most of them a matter of simple courtesy:
Experience is the best teacher, but driver education is about studying, too. If you want to go a step beyond Florida’s driver handbook, the National Safety Council is one of many entities offering defensive driving courses online.
Use available tools to stay safe. Knowledge is your No. 1 safety asset, from weather reports to traffic alerts. In short, don’t drive blind into a storm or roadwork that is snarling traffic. The No. 1 safety device, of course, is the seat belt. Click it – always – and always make sure your passengers, including children and pets, are properly restrained.
What you drive also affects how you drive. If you can afford it, choose a vehicle with safety features such as:
Also consider safety devices that allow you to block the use of cellphones and other electronic devices that can distract you from driving.
All the safety-related information in the world won’t help if you don’t use it, and all the safety devices in the world won’t help if you don’t maintain the equipment. Don’t forget the basics, either, from batteries and tires to brakes.
Also, never drive while drowsy. A person who is driving after five or less hours of sleep is at the same crash risk as someone who is slightly above the legal alcohol limit for drivers. In fact, one-eighth of all crashes involving hospitalization result from drowsy driving.
Focus on driving. Those three words save lives and cover a lot of ground. When you are driving:
Forget the complex conversations.
Don’t plug addresses into navigation systems.
Don’t tune radios or tinker with entertainment systems.
Don’t use your cellphone. (Even hands-free systems diminish your ability to drive.)
If the Worst Happens, Get Legal Help
It has been famously said that no battle plan survives contact with the enemy. That applies to plans for safe driving. There isn’t much you can do if a drunken or negligent driver T-bones you at an intersection or comes at you head-on in heavy traffic. So if someone takes your fate out of your hands and you or a loved one suffers as a result, the fierce litigators at Chiumento Dwyer Hertel Grant will stand strong for your rights to full and fair compensation.
The South Florida auto accident law firm has been serving the communities of Flagler and Volusia counties since 1973. Our commitment to the area is evident in the contributions we make to schools and other elements of the community. That commitment shines through the most, though, when our dedicated attorneys are helping injured clients in need.