What Are The Greatest Threats, Risks, and Hazards of Driving?

Motor vehicles have become safer over the years. The number of car accidents, deaths, and serious injuries has declined and there’s a greater emphasis on driver safety than ever before. However, it’s still a problem. Research shows that more than 2.35 million Americans are injured or disabled in car wrecks each year, with another 37,000 dying as a result of serious car accidents. 

If you want to lower your chances of being a statistic, you have to understand what risks, threats, and hazards you face while behind the wheel. According to those who have firsthand experience dealing with car accidents and the aftermath they cause, here are four of the most serious and pertinent factors: 

1.Distracted Driving

Distracted driving is a serious problem that claimed 3,166 American lives in 2017 alone. If we want safer roads, we have to nip this issue in the bud. (And that means taking personal responsibility for your own distracted tendencies.)

Common sources of distraction include digital electronics (smartphone), in-vehicle navigation and entertainment, eating and drinking, and passengers. Make a note of the distractions that impact you the most and remove these sources from the equation. 

2.Poor Road Conditions

When weather strikes, road conditions can go from normal to hazardous in a matter of minutes. This is particularly true when it rains after an extended dry period. 

“During extended dry spells road surfaces accumulate grease, grime, oil and other contaminants, which get baked onto the surface by the harsh sun,” Budget Direct explains. “When the rain eventually falls, these substances create a slimy, slippery surface that provides a challenge to driver stability. It is similar to the effect black ice has when you’re driving.”

If you find yourself on the road when it first starts to rain, be extra cautious. Brake lightly, take turns easier, and don’t get too close to the car in front of you. As they say, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

3.Large Trucks

Eighteen-wheelers and other large trucks can weigh 20-30-times as much as a standard motor vehicle. Thus, when a passenger vehicle is involved in a crash with a truck, the results are rarely good.

Truck accidents occur as a result of numerous factors, but driver error is involved in a high percentage of cases. According to Tate Law Offices, common truck driving errors include speeding, distraction, failure to yield right of way, impairment (alcohol, fatigue, illness), failure to keep in proper lane, and careless driving.

The best thing you can do is avoid close contact with large trucks by never sitting in a truck’s blind spot on the interstate and leaving a safe distance between your car and the larger vehicle when forced to drive in close proximity.

4.Peak Times

If at all possible, you want to be off the road during peak times and/or when drunk drivers are most likely to be behind the wheel. Holidays – and the days and nights surrounding holidays – are considered to be extremely dangerous. In particular, you should try avoiding the road on St. Patrick’s Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Weekend, New Year’s Eve, and Christmas. 

Holidays aside, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data suggests there are certain hours of the day that are more dangerous than others.

“The NHTSA reports that most accidents occur during ‘rush hour,’ between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.,” BACtrack explains. “And according to the NHTSA, Saturday is the most dangerous day of the week to drive, primarily because there are more cars – and more drunk drivers – on the road than any other day.”

Midnight to 3 a.m. is a dangerous period of time, regardless of the date. More drunk drivers are on the road between these hours than any other time of day. As a result, the rate of fatal crashes is four-times higher at night than during the day.

Stay Alert, Stay Safe

It’s not enough to be a safe driver. You’re just one of the millions of drivers on the road at any given moment. In order to maximize your safety, you have to be aware of the risks you face each time you get behind the wheel. This awareness will breed smarter habits and help you develop superior defensive driving skills that lower your risk of being involved in a serious or deadly accident.