Unsafe Driving Habits
Risky behavior is involved in the trafﬁc accidents that kill more than 40,000
Americans each year. Driving while drunk accounts for the majority of serious trafﬁc accidents, and more than half of all road-related fatalities are automobile passengers who might have lived had they used seat belts.
Never drive under the inﬂuence of alcohol. It slows your reaction times, dis- torts your vision, and impairs your judgment. And never use other psycho- active drugs (those that alter your mind or behavior, such as marijuana or methamphetamine) while driving. Be sure to read the labels on all prescription and over-the-counter medications for warnings about how they could affect your ability to drive.
Safety with Seat Belts
Every motor vehicle crash has two collisions. The ﬁrst is a collision of the car with another object. But the second is more important in terms of life and death. That’s when the driver or passenger collides with the vehicle’s interior or is thrown out of the vehicle to collide with the ground, another car, or an object such as a wall.
Ejection from a vehicle occurs 10 times more often to occupants who are not wearing seat belts. The best protection for people in a collision is to use lap belts and shoulder restraints. In a head-on collision, these safety restraints can dra- matically reduce the chance of injury to the head or the face and cut in half the
risk of serious or fatal injury. Every person in the car must wear a seat belt. It’s the law, and it can save your life.
If you transport small children (age 6 and under), be sure your car is equipped with a child safety seat for each child. Be sure the child safety seat is installed and secured to the vehicle’s backseat the way the manufacturer recommends. Children always must ride in the backseat. Children who are too large for a child safety seat must wear a seat belt. Children who are not protected by safety restraints face increased risk of serious injury. (Trafﬁc injuries are a leading cause of death for children.) During a crash, an unrestrained child becomes an uncontrolled missile that can crash through a windshield or careen into any object or person in the vehicle.
Do not consider air bags a substitute for safety belts. Air bags are designed to inﬂate only during head-on collisions and are useful only as supplements for seat belts. Also, air bags offer no protection during multiple crashes, rollovers, or side collisions. Air bags have been the cause of a number of serious injuries to chil- dren and several deaths. They are one of many reasons that children always should ride in back.