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Risky Road Behavior

Jan 12, 2018 by

It’s easy to take driving for granted, but it’s actually one of the more dangerous things we do every day (unless we work with rabid bears, but most of us don’t do that). We can get lulled into a false sense of security because we drive so often. It’s how most of us get to work and back, and we also drive to the grocery store, the movie theater, and even to the drugstore to get chapstick. There’s a tendency for most drivers to think they’re “above average,” even though that doesn’t make sense. We tend to overestimate how safely we’re driving. Unsafe behaviors combined with an overly complacent attitude is a recipe for disaster.

Distracted driving

There are so many ways to be distracted while you’re driving. Twenty years ago, you’d see people applying makeup while driving 70 mph down the freeway, or even reading the paper while cruising down the interstate. Those still happen, but the biggest source of distraction is something you keep in your pocket. Yes, your smartphone is a problem. If you’re using it while you’re driving, your reaction times will be slowed. Slow response time is bad if someone runs out into the street in front of you, or if the car in front of you slams on the brakes suddenly. Smartphones can be addictive, but if you can’t avoid looking at your phone when you’re behind the wheel, then you shouldn’t be driving, period. Luckily, most states have passed laws against texting while driving, and some states also forbid you from talking on the phone without a hands-free device. Newer smartphones have a feature that allows your phone to automatically turn off notifications when you’re in a moving vehicle. This is helpful if you’re in the driver’s seat; if you’re in the passenger’s seat, you can just press a button that says, “I’m not driving.”

Don’t try to convince yourself that the dangers aren’t that serious. They definitely are. Even if you escape injury, you could still end up hurting or killing someone else because of inattentive driving. Prosecutors could charge you with vehicular homicide or reckless driving, and even if they don’t, you could still be hearing from a team of motor vehicle accident attorneys who want to sue you on behalf of their injured client. No game of Animal Crossing is worth that.

Impaired driving

People are warned over and over about the risks of drinking and getting behind the wheel of the car. Despite all the public service announcements warning of criminal penalties, there are still way too many drivers who decide, “I’m only buzzed,” or, “It’s only a couple of miles to the house.” In those cases, getting pulled over and arrested is almost a best-case scenario; it’s better to get arrested than to get involved in a fatal accident. DUI charges aren’t great, but they’re better than vehicular homicide charges.

Some substance abusers receive a wake-up call in the backseat of a police cruiser and decide they need a rehab for alcohol addiction. But honestly, there are far simpler ways to realize there’s a problem, ways that generally don’t involve the criminal justice system. If you know you’re going to do anything beyond very light drinking, schedule a ride home via a friend or rideshare app. Doing that in advance gives you less opportunity to make a terrible decision at the end of the night

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