Various natural and environmental factors affect
the driving task and contribute to accident potential. Knowing the effects
of each of these factors can help during driving.
Kinetic Energy (momentum) - An increase in driving speed requires
an increase for that vehicle in stopping distance, as the vehicle has
gained more momentum. Allowing enough stopping distance for the vehicle
is the only sure way to offset the momentum of the vehicle.
Impact - At impact in a car accident, the “G” or gravitational forces
in a collision are astronomical. Consequently, a driver must make all
efforts to stay in the car, buckled in their seat belt to survive the
force of the impact. These “G” forces, if in effect for longer than
a millisecond, would tear apart a human being. In an accident, these
forces are impacted on the driver for only a fraction of a second, but
still contain enormous power. Staying secured in the driver compartment
is the safest place to be at all times.
It is vital for all drivers to be aware of the
environment in which they travel, other drivers around them and the
vehicle they control.
“Rear-Ender” - This is the most common accident type and is nearly
always the fault of the car in the rear. Drivers who tailgate do not
leave enough stopping distance between themselves and the vehicle they
immediately follow. The rear-end collision is often the result of following
too closely but can be prevented by signaling early for all turns, stops
and lane changes. It is also a good idea to frequently check the traffic
behind your vehicle, and if tailgated, change lanes immediately. A driver
should be aware of tailgaters or large vehicles following too closely
or gaining rapidly from behind, and take appropriate action to avoid
If no other options are available, press your brake pedal and
prepare for impact.
Keep a firm grip on the steering wheel. Chances are you may be
pushed forward or even sideways and will still need to maintain
Your seat belt will prevent your face and upper torso from hitting
the steering wheel or windshield. Most cars today have headrests.
This will help minimize the whiplash factor.
Front or Side Collision
From the Front - If your vehicle is going to be hit from the front,
be prepared to do the following: Use your arms or hands to protect
your face and throw yourself across the seat to avoid hitting the
steering wheel or windshield if you do not have a shoulder harness
From the side
- If possible, avoid head-on collisions and the inevitable impact.
Attempt to maneuver so the approaching vehicle hits your car from
Be careful when protecting your face. For example, air bag devices
deploy in front-end impacts at approximately 35 mph. Use caution when
placing your hands in front of your face as the air bag could push
your hands into your face (The shoulder
strap of your seat belt will prevent your face from hitting the dashboard).
Use the steering wheel to brace yourself and try to avoid being thrown
against the side of your car.
Light Rain / First Rain - The first rain often leads to a dangerous
condition in which to operate a motor vehicle. The first rain lifts
the oil up from the road surface, yet does not completely wash away
the slippery substance. Many drivers are generally unwilling to slow
their speed to a level that the first rain requires. Light rain tends
to be ignored by people who continue driving as if the roads were
clear and dry. The light rain makes the road slick and simply does
not provide enough water to wash away all the accumulated oil and
debris. Speed should be dramatically reduced with extra stopping distance
allowed and extreme caution exercised. It is important to remember
that when road conditions and surfaces change, braking distance and
traction change as well.
One-Way Streets - In order to eliminate
confusion in heavily traveled areas and to keep the flow of traffic
moving, one-way streets are becoming more and more common. One-way
streets often pose unique dangers to drivers. Wrong way drivers are
common, as are other motorists making turns from unsafe lanes. Drivers
should be aware of how to properly enter and exit one-way streets
and be prepared to slow dramatically if necessary. Always choose
the safest lane.
- The leading
cause of freeway accidents is “FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY.
- 50% of all
accidents are caused by drivers 16 - 24 years of age.
- 24% of all
accident fatalities involve drivers 16 - 24 years of age.