Study after study has shown that seat belts are the best protection from injury in an automobile accident. Consider this sobering statistic: Over 45,000 people were killed in auto accidents in the United States in 2002. According to the World Health Organization, deaths from automobile accidents in the United States is the leading cause of death for children between the ages of 2 and 14. California, with the largest number of drivers in any state, leads the nation with the greatest number of automobile accidents resulting in death.Many of these deaths were preventable. According to a recent Oklahoma State University analysis, about 50% of these fatal accidents involved the failure to wear a seat belt. In fact, being thrown from a car is the number one cause of death in car crashes.
As the father of a teen-ager, I know how popular text messaging has become as a means of communication. Text messaging, or using a cell phone while driving, is a particularly dangerous practice that leads to many accidents and deaths every year. Consider these statistics: According to the National Safety Council, 28% of car accidents are caused by talking or texting while driving. According to this same study, 60% of teenagers reported that they have texted while driving. Another study has concluded that use of a cell phone while driving is similar to driving while intoxicated! Texting is an effective and convenient means of communication. However, the evidence is clear: texting is not safe to text while on the road. Save your texting for when you are at the dinner table with your parents (like my kids).
In 2008, 716 bicyclists were killed in traffic accidents. About 44,000 bicyclists were injured in traffic accidents in 2007. Despite these sobering statistics, cycling remains a very popular past time. A few simple guidelines can help avoid a bicycle car collision. According to Bicycling Magazine, the most common bicycle car accidents involve the following situations:
I reported here last week about the danger to pedestrians from "quiet" hybrid and electric cars. Now, advocates for the blind and car makers have reached an agreement to impose minimum noise levels on the future manufacture of electric cars. The agreement was reached, both sides agreed, because the current hybrid and electric cars pose a greater risk of danger to those that are visually impaired, as well as bikers, runners, and other pedestrians. A study conducted last year by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration showed that hybrid cars were more likely to hit pedestrians than other cars where the approaching car cannot be seen. Recent studies conducted by UC Riverside came to similar conclusions.
One of the basic safety tips to avoid a bicycle accident is to ride with traffic, not against traffic. Riding against traffic can result in the accident known as the "wrong way wreck." A common cause of the wrong way wreck occurs when a car turns into traffic by making a right turn out of a driveway. The attention of the driver is looking left at the oncoming traffic. The driver does not even think about or notice the cyclist coming the other direction, against traffic.