There are many different types of drivers on the road— aggressive drivers, distracted drivers, and drunk drivers, teens and senior citizens. This combination of motorists can make for less-than-optimal driving conditions. It is imperative to keep in mind who you are sharing the road with in order to keep yourself as safe as possible.
Aggressive driving has become a serious problem on our roadways. Driving is considered aggressive when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other persons or property.
Behaviors typically associated with aggressive driving include:
- Exceeding the posted speed limit.
- Following too closely (tailgating).
- Erratic or unsafe lane changes.
- Failure to signal.
- Failure to obey traffic control devices (stop signs, yield signs, traffic signals, railroad grade cross signals, etc.).
- Impaired driving.
- Failure to yield.
If you encounter an aggressive driver:
- Remain calm.
- Keep your distance.
- Do not pass unless it’s necessary.
- Change lanes once it is safe (don't jump lanes without looking).
- If you cannot change lanes and an aggressive driver is behind you, stay where you are, maintain the proper speed and do not respond with hostile gestures.
- Pull over.
- You may call 911 to report an aggressive driver or a driver you believe may be impaired.
In 2008, nearly 6,000 people died in crashes that involved distracted driving--anything that takes your eyes off the road, your hands off the steering wheel or interrupts your concentration while driving.
We live in a highly technological age, where the majority of people are tech savvy and cannot live without their cell phones and iPods. This becomes dangerous as drivers become distracted easily. Drivers are also distracted by other passengers in the car, people or situations outside the car or even food consumed while driving.
The solution is to put everything down and concentrate on the road.
Every death caused by drunk driving is preventable. Unfortunately, driving while intoxicated still remains a big problem. A driver with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.10 or greater is seven times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle crash than is a driver who has not consumed alcoholic beverages. In California, a BAC of 0.08 or higher is illegal.
Report Drunk Drivers: If you see a driver doing these things, report the car along with its description and location to the police. The driver may be ill or intoxicated and shouldn't be on the road.
- Driving with windows rolled down in cold weather
- Passing dangerously
- Straddling the center line
- Making wide turns
- Driving slowly
- Driving at night without headlights
Teenage drivers are involved in a disproportionate amount of fatal automobile accidents; they have the highest crash risk of any age group. Immaturity and inexperience are major factors.
Accidents involving teens often end in fatality because of speed, not wearing a seat belt, distracted driving (using cell phones, listening to music or teen passengers), drunk driving or nighttime driving.
The problem is worst among 16-year-olds who have the most limited experience.
Set the Standard
Parents should teach their children how to drive safely from the outset. This includes modeling safe driving behavior even before their children begin to drive.
Set driving rules for your teen, and explain the consequences of breaking them.
- Restrict Night Driving: Most young drivers’ fatal crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. Set a curfew.
- Restrict Passengers: Having passengers in the car increases the risk of distraction and, therefore, accidents. Teens should be restricted from having multiple people in the car.
- Supervise driving: Conduct practice sessions over a period of time, which includes driving in different conditions.
- Require seat belts: Make sure your child wears a seat belt while driving--always.
- Prohibit drinking: Make it clear that is highly dangerous and illegal to drink and drive.
Enforce the Rules
- Persons under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent/guardian or other person specified by law for the first 12 months when transporting passengers under 20 years of age, and when driving between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Getting older does not necessarily mean a person's driving days are in the rear view mirror. However, it is important to take steps to ensure the safety of your loved ones on the road. Driving skills decline with age, but every person is different. Telling elderly drivers that it is time to stop can be very difficult, but sometimes necessary to ensure their safety as well as the safety of others. Learn how to recognize and discuss changes in elderly driving.
Skills affected with age:
- Slowdown in response time
- Loss of clarity in vision and hearing
- Reduced muscle strength and flexibility
- Drowsiness due to medications
- Reduction in the ability to focus or concentrate
- Lower tolerance for alcohol
A checklist on safe elderly driving:
Watch for the following telltale signs of decline in elderly people’s driving abilities. Do they:
- Drive at inappropriate speeds, either too fast or too slow?
- Ask passengers to help check if it is clear to pass or turn?
- Respond slowly to or not notice pedestrians, bicyclists and other drivers?
- Ignore, disobey or misinterpret street signs and traffic lights?
- Fail to yield to other cars or pedestrians who have the right-of-way?
- Fail to judge distances between cars correctly?
- Become easily frustrated and angry?
- Appear drowsy, confused or frightened?
- Have one or more near accidents or near misses?
- Drift across lane markings or bump into curbs?
- Forget to turn on headlights after dusk?
- Have difficulty with glare from oncoming headlights, streetlights or other bright or shiny objects, especially at dawn, dusk and at night?
- Have difficulty turning their head, neck, shoulders or body while driving or parking?
- Ignore signs of mechanical problems?
- Have too little strength to turn the wheel quickly in an emergency, such as a tire failure, a child darting into traffic, etc.?
- Get lost repeatedly, even in familiar areas?
How the elderly can adapt and drive safely:
- Avoid driving at night and, if possible, at dawn or dusk.
- Drive only to familiar locations.
- Avoid driving to places far away from home.
- Avoid freeways and rush hour traffic.
- Leave plenty of time to get where they are going.
- Don't drive alone.