More Safety

What costs society $44,193 a minute?

Exceeding the posted limit or driving too fast for conditions is one of the most prevalent factors contributing to traffic crashes. Speed is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes. Speed-related crashes cost society more than $23 billion a year. Too few drivers view speeding as an immediate risk to their personal safety or the safety of others. Crash severity increases with the speed of the vehicle at impact. Inversely, the effectiveness of restraint devices like air bags and safety belts, and vehicular construction features such as crumple zones and side member beams decline as impact speed increases.

The probability of death, disfigurement, or debilitating injury grows with higher speed at impact. Such consequences double for every 10 mph over 50 mph that a vehicle travels. Many drivers don’t consider this. They slow their speed in residential areas, or when the weather turns bad. To them, a few miles an hour over the posted speed limit is an acceptable risk. Their excuse — other drivers do it.

They believe the worst that can happen to them is to receive a speeding ticket. Drivers like this are wrong. Maybe even dead wrong, because driving too fast for conditions or exceeding the posted speed limit can kill you.

Speed-Related Facts

  • Rural roads account for over 60 percent of all speed related fatal crashes.
  • Sixty six percent of speed-related crashes involved a single vehicle.
  • Sixty percent of all speed- related fatal crashes occurred at night (6 pm to 6 am).
  • Drivers involved in speed-related fatal crashes are more likely to have a history of traffic violations.
  • On average, 1,000 Americans are killed every month in speed-related crashes.

Youth and Speeding

  • Of all drivers aged 15-24 years of age involved in fatal crashes, 32 percent were speeding.
  • Of drivers under age 21 involved in fatal crashes, 38 percent of the male and 24 percent of the female drivers were speeding.

Economic and Environmental Costs

Fuel consumption increases steadily above 45 mph with passenger cars and light trucks using approximately 50 percent more fuel traveling at 75 mph than they do at 55 mph.

NHTSA: Think Fast Brochure from the “Speed Shatters Life” Campaign

Animals on the Road

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To swerve, or not to swerve; that is the question.

Before leaping to an answer, consider these statistics:

  • A collision with some form of wildlife occurs, on average, every 39 minutes.
  • One out of every 17 car collisions involves wandering wildlife.
  • 89% of all wildlife collisions occur on two-lane roads.
  • 84% of all wildlife collisions occur in good weather on dry roads.
  • The average repair cost of a car-deer collision is $2,800.
  • Approximately 200 motorists die in the United States each year from car-wildlife collisions.

Ouch, huh?

Ouch, indeed.

To avoid adding to these statistics, trim your chances of colliding with traversing wildlife by practicing the following precautions:

  • Slow down when passing yellow animal-crossing signs. These warnings are posted not because road crews just happened to have a surplus of signs, but because heavy animal traffic frequents the area.
  • Wildlife is most active during dusk, dawn, and night. Deer are most frequently hit during dusk and dawn, bears and moose at night.
  • Headlights have an illumination range of 200 to 250 feet. To allow for sufficient brake time, reduce your speed to 45 mph at night―or even down to 30 mph when roads are icy.
  • Pay attention to shoulders. Even though wildlife may be off to the side as your car approaches, animals may suddenly attempt to flee by inexplicably leaping into the road. (Jackrabbits are particularly suicidal.) Slow as you approach, and don’t hesitate to hit the horn.
  • Look for reflecting eyes.
  • Slow if you spy a moose. These gangly animals harbor a weird escape gene. Instead of leaping into forested cover, moose will gallop down the road ahead of you for long distances before finally veering into the woods.
  • Keep in mind that deer, elk, and antelope wander in groups. If you see one crossing, slow to a crawl. More are bound to follow.
  • If you drive in a state or province that employs road salt, keep in mind that wildlife embraces it as a condiment. Roads may be drier but wildlife more numerous.
  • Deer whistles are merely peace-of-mind placebos. Research remains inconclusive as to the advantages of these car-mounted devices.

Now, finally, to answer the swerve-or-not-to-swerve dilemma, experts advise not swerving. You can suffer more ghastly consequences from an oncoming UPS delivery truck than from a leaping mule deer or skittering antelope. It is best to lock the brakes, jam the horn, and (if time allows) duck low behind the dashboard.

Moose are the lone exception to the do-not-swerve rule. An adult moose can grow to 1,600 pounds. Consequently, colliding with a moose is comparable to colliding with a compact vehicle on stilts, with the likelihood of fatal or long-term injuries to the front-seat occupants of your car. So if the situation allows, swerving for a moose is a defensive option.

Night Driving Safety Tips FROM DMV.org

  • Keep headlights on one hour before dusk and one hour after dawn to increase your vehicle’s visibility.
  • Make sure headlights are properly aligned. Askew headlights can diminish road coverage and blind oncoming traffic.
  • Conduct regular maintenance checks to assure all signal and brake lights are functioning properly.
  • Wipe windshield’s interior to eliminate glare.
  • Use low beams when driving through fog.
  • Don’t drink and drive. This sounds obvious, but even if you’re not boozing heavily, bear in mind that just one drink can promote sleepiness.
  • Be extra alert when driving at night on weekends. Drunk-driver-related car fatalities are at their highest on Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Don’t outdrive the beams of your headlights. In other words, reduce your speed.
  • Maintain a greater-than-normal distance from the car in front of you. Distances are more difficult to gauge at night.
  • Switch to low beams when you’re behind someone so you don’t blind them.
  • To avoid glare from oncoming traffic, focus eyes on the right edge of the road.
  • Look for signs of oncoming traffic. Watch for headlight flashes when approaching hills or hairpin curves.
  • Don’t ignore eye fatigue. Address immediately with frequent stops and brisk walks. Or pull into a rest area and catch a nap.
  • Stem smoking urges. Cigarette smoke clouds vision.
  • Be aware that deer travel in herds. If you spy one, reduce your speed. Chances are good that more deer are lurking just out of sight.
  • If your car fails, pull it off the road as far as possible. Turn on emergency lights and the inner dome light and don’t wander. Stay in the car until assistance arrives.
  • Don’t play stranger with your optometrist. Eye exams are recommended once every three years for drivers younger than 40; every two years for drivers between 41 to 60; and once a year for drivers older than 60. If you have perfect vision but have trouble seeing at night, simple glasses with anti-reflective lenses could help.

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