In A Short Guide for Drivers Part One we covered yielding, speed and paying attention. In this back to basics article, we’ll cover the use of seat belts, turn signals and headlights. I know, these are very basic areas of driving. Unfortunately even these basics have been long forgotten by older drivers and never even became habits for new drivers.
I can’t begin to count how many times someone has used the excuse: “Well you could die using a seat belt because you can become trapped”, as a reason for not wearing a seat belt. Some people actually do have fears like this, but many are just trying to find a way to justify not doing the one easy thing that takes one second to secure into place that could save your life at most, save you from injury at least. I will provide you with statistics, but nothing beats real life experience, so I will use myself as an example. It seems I have a large target on my car when driving, because I have been hit numerous times. All of the accidents could have been avoided had the drivers of the other cars been following the law and using good judgment. I got into a very bad accident as a teenager. At the time, seat belts weren’t exactly an issue. I was not wearing my seat belt, and because of this I sustained injuries, that have now become apparent, will be lasting me a lifetime. Many years later, I got into an identical accident, same speed, same situation and even same type of car. My car was destroyed, but I sustained not one injury, The reason for this is simply, I was wearing my seat belt. Both accidents I was going straight, and the person in oncoming traffic was making a left, and decided at the last second to make that left directly into my car instead of waiting a couple seconds. In both cases the other drivers received tickets for two to three different traffic laws broken. According to Naval Safety Center “Of the 32,598 passengers killed in 2002 as the result of an automobile crash, almost 60% were not wearing seat belts.” An a study done by James Madison University stated that: “80% of all death to children in a motor vehicle accident could be prevented by properly securing the safety harnesses and seat belts.”
So many people these days don’t even bother to use their turn signal. Again, another maybe half a second thing to do and people are not taking the time to use them. Turn signals can save you from getting rear ended. There are so many people out there not paying any attention at all, so when you slow down to take that turn, unfortunately they are brought out of those daydreams by the offensive sound of metal on metal. When your blinker starts blinking it can snap someone out of it when not paying attention. Turn signals let other cars what you are doing and where you are going, and the reason for the reduction in your speed. Think about it this way, ho many times have you been driving behind someone and gotten aggravated at their sudden reduction in speed and you’re sitting there thinking “should I go around them? Is their car breaking down? Is this person out of their mind?” and well you get the gist. Take the half a second to inform other drivers on the road what you’re doing, not only can it save you from getting rear ended, its just common courtesy.
Yes, I know, this one should be pretty simple right? I have seen so many times, a dark car speeding through the night with no headlights on. I can understand this one as an occasional mistake, but if it happens on a regular basis there’s a real problem. The other time some needs to turn on those headlights is during any type of storm. This law varies state to state, but honestly, we don’t need a law to tell us to use our common sense. If your state does not have the “wipers on headlights on” law yet, that doesn’t make your car any more easily seen in a low visibility situation. however, your headlights will. Turn on those headlights first sign of a storm coming, whether its law in your state yet or not.
Stay safe, obey the laws, and so important-use common sense out there.