Driving Survival

Introduction

Millions of drivers like you crash their vehicles every year.

These collisions killed nearly 42,000 people and injured another 3 million people, according to the most recent figures available. A decade ago, more than 44,000 people died and another 5.4 million were injured on the nation’s roads.

Although the statistics indicate traffic safety is improving significantly, don’t let down your guard. Perhaps the most disturbing fact to come out of recent statistics is that most people involved in fatal crashes are “good” drivers: Only 15 percent were in a previous accident, while nearly 59 percent had no previous convictions for motor vehicle offenses, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report.

In other words, they probably were a lot like you. Their good records didn’t prevent them from crashing, yet most of the accidents were caused by driver error.

The principle of driving survival recognizes that most crashes result from errors made by “good” drivers who often have years of experience behind the wheel. Maybe they picked up bad habits or forgot important fundamentals, and there’s a good chance they – and probably you, too – were trained improperly for contemporary vehicles, traffic patterns, driving environments and laws.

To survive in today’s traffic, you must overcome these deficiencies.

Driving survival means embracing new habits and approaches to driving – and thereby reducing your likelihood of dying or being injured.

The costs associated with crashing, measured in both physical pain and dollars lost, are staggering. Accident victims’ medical bills paid under employer-provided health insurance have reached $32.6 billion, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s economic study of motor-vehicle crashes. Need more reasons to adopt a driving survival mindset?

  • The American Society of Safety Engineers cites traffic crashes as the largest single cause of on-the-job deaths.
  • Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for 1- to 34-year-olds, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • According to a University of Oklahoma police study, you are more likely to be involved in an accident than to be a crime victim.
  • The total bill for all crashes is estimated to top $230 billion a year.