One of the most dangerous things that you can do today is to get on the back roads and interstates in this world and drive. Yes, drive! According to the Highway Safety Commission, the highest cause of death – yes death in people ages 5 – 54 is an unintentional motor vehicle accident. In fact, every year there are hundreds of thousands of deaths that result in motor vehicle accidents. Unfortunately, most people think of traffic accidents and immediately think about drunk drivers when the truth is that each and every one of is likely to get behind the wheel and lose our life, while completely sober – and while the other driver is completely sober as well.
Driving like an idiot is one of those incidental personality flaws that you don’t know about someone until you get behind the wheel with him or her. Here is this person that is ultra careful with their kid, is always on ‘accident watch,’ holds down a respectable job, and seems to abide by the rules in life – but they drive like a complete idiot. Not only do they role through stop signs, go 20 miles faster than the speed limit, but also seem to have the sense that they are the ONLY person on the road. Ironically, they buckle their kids in for safety and wear their own seatbelt, but have absolutely no common sense when it comes to getting behind the wheel?
So what is up with that?
Making matters worse is that today, it is dang near impossible to go out on a public road for a drive without seeing someone texting, talking on their cell phone, playing with their car radio, or even putting on make-up or picking their nose in the mirror while they are behind the wheel. Nearly every person, from young kids to older adults – are driving while distracted, which is the number one cause of traffic accidents and fatalities in the civilized world. With all the attention that Mothers Against Drunk Driving gets, you would think that it is only the boozers in life who kill people with their cars. The reality is that it is the regular, average Joe – who either causes or doesn’t avoid a traffic accident because they are busy doing something…anything besides driving when they get behind the wheel.
Ironically, as there has been a steady increase in the amount of advertising and education available to increase people on the dangers of driving while distracted – the numbers of distraction related incidents on roads and thoroughfares is rising. People think they can answer just that one text, or hand that one thing back to their screaming child, or go just a little bit faster than the laws allow because they are running late – and then are surprised to find themselves in a traffic accident.
Many people also have a sense of entitlement and become little adrenaline junkies when they get behind the wheel. The silky leather of the steering wheel, or the purr of the engine seems to make their inner dare devil emerge. The problem is that not only do they put their own lives and wellbeing at risk – but they also risk the lives and wellbeing of everyone else around them. Is this some form of egotism? Or is it a complete lack of respect for other that causes them to behave as if they are the only vehicle on the roadway?
As a general rule of thumb, you expect the new to the roads, 16-year-old kid to make irresponsible choices behind the wheel. You expect younger people to speed, and act out their emotions behind the wheel. This is precisely why insurance rates are so high for young drivers. But you don’t expect the stay at home mom driving the mini-van to be a complete idiot when driving to and from school. You don’t expect the little league football coach to be the one running you off the road as you leave the ball fields, or the teacher at your child’s school to be peeling wheels out of the Wal-Mart shopping center. Yet, often – it is these surprisingly should-know-better folks – who are the most dangerouos drivers.
The best advice is to stay out of these people’s vehicles. And, if you must ride with them – don’t be afraid to be a backseat driver and let them know how you feel about their idiotic driving antics. And in order to avoid being hit head on by moronic drivers who have no common sense behind the wheel – then quite possibly, you should always make it a rule of thumb to stay completely focused yourself when you are behind the wheel so you can avoid run-ins with these folks that could be costly in more ways than one.
Sadly, education and awareness are NOT the answers. Each day in the United States there are more and more traffic tickets being written – and the costs of fines are constantly increasing. Drivers today, who have a certain amount of points of penalties on their license, are required to take driving education classes and awareness classes. People who choose to drive drunk – are facing stiffer penalties than ever before and each day, laws are being passed to make it illegal to text from behind the wheel. But the message, is apparently not hitting home for some people.
Let’s revisit a statistic we mentioned earlier. Between the ages of 5 and 54, the number one risk to your life – is the threat of being involved in a car accident. The chances of you dying in a car wreck is more likely than the chance of you (or a loved one) dying from any other thing. This just seems to prove that driving like an idiot – for whatever reason – is something that comes with extremely high risks. Sadly, your distraction at the wheel that caused a fatal accident – is not something that can be undone afterwards.