With the invention of cars, for the first time, people could travel and see previously inaccessible parts of the Country. The driving-vacation is still a great part of most people’s lives, and these tips may make it a bit safer.
A brief history of automobile accidents
The first recorded traffic accident in the US, involved an automobile striking a bicyclist. Just a few years later in 1896, they record a traffic fatality, in New York City. As with any means of transportation, careless actions result in accidents. Today, vehicles have more safety features than ever, yet accidents still number into the millions annually. Distracted, impaired and careless operation is by far the leading causes.
Planning for a safe vacation
Planning the trip helps eliminate many causes of accidents. For instance, a major problem is dozing off while driving.
Often folks are eager to reach their destination and push themselves further than they should, without rest. By planning a good night sleep, before leaving on a long trip, we reduce the odds of dozing off. Allowing time to stop and walk around every so often also helps. Try to plan small stops along the route. Not only does this keep the driver more alert, it breaks the monotony of long drives and adds to the enjoyment of the journey.
Internet search engines are great for finding interesting things along the route. Rest areas along most interstates are also good places to stop for a break. In addition, plan to stop for the night, before reaching the point of exhaustion.
Watch the speed limit
Most people greatly overestimate the time gained by driving more than the speed limit. For instance, on a trip of 100 miles, driving 80 MPH rather than 70 MPH, cuts just 11 minutes. It also increases fuel consumption considerably and the odds of a traffic citation.
The debate over higher speed and accidents is long running. Some feel a greater speed increases accidents, others say it does not. It is sure that higher vehicle speed increases the severity of an accident. It is as certain that exceeding the limit posted, drastically increases the odds of being stopped for speeding. Right or wrong, many localities depend on revenue from citations. Many cash-strapped areas are increasing enforcement of traffic laws and levying heavy fines.
What to do if stopped for speeding
Remember the officer is doing their job. Police work is dangerous and largely unappreciated. Every police officer is aware that any stop could endanger their lives. Courtesy will make the situation much better.
Pull to shoulder of the road when instructed and as far off the road as possible.
Roll down the driver window, before the officer walks up. Have your license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance ready and in plain sight.
Remain in the vehicle, unless instructed otherwise by the officer. Some officers prefer to approach the driver in the vehicle and others do not. Wishing to protect themselves is natural for the officer. If they request the driver to step out of the vehicle, do so slowly and keep hands in open sight.
Other passengers should remain in the vehicle, unless instructed to get out.
Do not argue with the officer or act aggressively. Contesting a citation is every driver’s right and is done in a court of law. Arguing the point with the police officer will gain nothing.
Sign the ticket when asked to do so, this is NOT an admission of guilt, simply standard procedure.
Learn to spot hazards
Defensive driving is the greatest assurance of an enjoyable and safe trip. Not all drivers do what they should. Staying aware of the surroundings allows safe drivers to avoid many potentially dangerous situations.
Try to get a full view of the road ahead. Anticipate the actions of others and leave yourself an out. For instance, if a driver enters your lane, is there a place to escape safely? Before attempting to pass, is there a place to fall back?
In the above picture, many hazards exist. Professional drivers normally drive eighteen wheelers. They are safe drivers but seeing cars is difficult, especially those in the blind spots of the cab. Allow plenty of room between your vehicle and large trucks. When changing lanes, use the turn-signals to inform other drivers of your intentions. Leave ample room when merging ahead of a truck. Furthermore, remember that truck drivers cannot hear a car’s horn. They must see a vehicle, to know it is present.
The rental van can be an even bigger risk. This is normally a much larger vehicle from which the driver is accustomed. Rental van drivers are most often not professionals and may have no training. Give these vehicles plenty of room.
Motorcycles are much harder to see than cars and trucks. Assume the rider may also not see your vehicle. Allow extra room when following or passing.
A driving vacation offers potential to see and enjoy things that we might otherwise never experience. Use a bit of planning and thought to make this vacation a great and safe experience for the family.