Nearly every time a driver cuts me off on intestate 64, veers into my lane at the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, or is inattentive at a light on Virginia (VA) Beach Blvd., I wonder what their problem is. Sometimes when passing the vehicle in question, I even look over. Often I see people on the cell phone, people texting, and even once, someone reading.
Thankfully though Virginia’s 2008 rate of 10.6 deaths per 100,000 population was lower than the national average of 12.3 and gives Virginia the 17th lowest fatality rate in the nation.
Traffic fatalities are a leading cause of death, especially for young people between the ages of four and 34. The years of life lost as a result of these terrible crashes make their social costs particularly high, especially since many of these losses could have been prevented.
So what can we do to prevent a wreck? First, we can remind ourselves that driving is a privilege not a right. Then we can give ourselves a refresher on safe driving.
- Check for cars twice before pulling into an intersection at a stop sign. Sometimes at first glance an on coming car can be hidden behind your wind shield pillar.
- Look behind you before backing out of a parking place. The number one mistake drives make is not looking both directions before backing up.
- Watch for cars rushing through intersections at the end of a red light. Even though you have the right away it is better to be safe than sorry.
- Look both left and right when making a right-hand turn. Remember you must ALWAYS yield to other cars when making a right on red.
- Stay alert while you are on the road distracted driving can always be avoided. Limit cell phone calls and eliminate texting. Also eliminate any extra activities like makeup application, reading the newspaper or even drinking beverages.
We can also model good behavior for children and teen drivers. This means not talking on the cell phone, always wearing a seat belt and coming to a complete stop at stop signs. The state of Virginia also has a safety program just for teens, since no other hazard or behavior comes close to claiming as many teen lives as driving. In 2008, 104 teenagers aged 15 – 19 died in car crashes in Virginia.
But sometimes even the most careful driver can be the victim of someone else’s carelessness. When that happens, it is your duty to your self and your family to seek legal council. Hopefully, you will only have to deal with the pain and confusion of a car accident once, or can avoid it altogether.