Tuesday, July 23, 2013

How to Identify Reckless Driving

In the U.S. alone there are over 40,000 people killed every year on county, state and the interstate highways... and many of those deaths are directly the result of reckless drivers. In a 2003 driving poll conducted by The National Safe Driving Test, 91% of all drivers admitted to engaging in risky driving behavior over a six-month span.There is a variety of actions that can help identify a dangerous or reckless driver, and being knowledgeable and aware could increase the level of safety of the road, both for yourself and others.

  • Rolling through stop signs. A lot of people don't come to a complete stop; they slow down, check for oncoming traffic, and then keep on going. However, know that the sign is there for a reason, and the only way to be 110% sure that there is no traffic is by coming to a complete stop.
  • Driving too quickly. Speeding is responsible for 30% of all fatal crashes.
  • Failing to keep up with traffic. Some people think that slower means safer, but drivers expect you to keep up with the flow of traffic. If you're going too slowly relative to everyone else, people behind you will try to pass you, which can easily lead to an accident. 
  • Tailgating. The average car needs 120-160 feet to come to a complete stop. You should maintain that safe distance away from the car ahead of you, or even farther if you're driving at higher speeds. Change lanes when it is safe if you're the one being tailgated.
  • Running yellow lights. Yellow means slow down. The red light comes shortly after; if you speed up at the yellow light, there is always a chance of accident.
  • Not checking blind spots. People who get in accidents often say that the opposing car "came out of nowhere." However, that is only because the other car was in a blind spot. Always check your blind spots to be aware of your surroundings.
  • Not wearing driving glasses. If you need prescribed glasses, wear them. Have sunglasses nearby just in case you need protection from the sun and the visor isn't enough; squinting doesn't help, and you might miss something.
  • Not using signals. Using signals alerts drivers to your presence and intents, so that you can safely change lanes. Not doing so may catch other drivers off-guard and cause them to lose their focus on the road.
  • Giving in to road rage. Driver aggression can be caused by a variety of factors and is extremely dangerous, causing drivers to drive with emotion rather than logic and reason. Always drive with a level head and keep your focus - for tips, check out this article, The Zen of Driving.
  • Lack of etiquette. Always be conscious and courteous of other drivers. Especially when it comes to merging and lane changes, it is best to be polite and give the other car right of way.
  • Multitasking. Anything from talking to your passengers to using electronic devices to eating to listening to music can distract the driver from the road. While it is certainly possible to drive and do something else at the same time, it is less safe to divide your focus in such a manner; always give your 100% attention to the road.
If you see someone driving recklessly - whether it be from texting, drunk/drowsy driving, being overly aggressive, or otherwise careless driving - report it by calling 911, but only call if you feel it's a dangerous situation. Simple motor violations do not warrant reporting; being a danger and placing civilians in harm's way, on the other hand, is.