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When behind the wheel, use some common sense

June 22, 2012

Danny Gilbreath is among local drivers who believe in staying safe behind the wheel. All drivers are encouraged to practice safety while on the road. PHOTO BY DON RICE

Today, we drive safer cars on safer roads. Decades of public information campaigns have made most of us safer drivers, but car accidents are still the leading cause of death for people between the ages of three and 34 in this country. Improvements in technology will continue to help bring those death numbers down, but most car accidents are caused by human error. The best way to end the risk of being involved in an accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Whether you’re just learning to drive or you’ve been behind the wheel for decades, it’s common sense to use basic rules for safe driving.
According to Chief Deputy James Qualls of the Hutchinson County Sheriff’s Office there are a few driving tips out there that will help bring you and your passengers home unharmed. They are as follows:
•Don’t drive drunk
More than 30 percent of all car accident fatalities involve intoxicated drivers. Most of those deaths would’ve been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn’t gotten behind the wheel while drunk.
Don’t speed
As the old public service campaign so bluntly put it, “Speed kills.” Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive, the likelihood of you being in an accident increases by four to five percent. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly. “Is a 10 or 20 seconds difference really worth a $300 ticket or death?” asked Qualls.
Avoid distractions
Many states in the U.S. have passed laws that ban the use of cell phones while driving. The reason is, the number of deaths added, due to this seemingly harmless activity: 2,600 deaths nationwide every year, by some estimates.
Don’t drive drowsy
About 20 percent of all accidents have sleepiness as a contributing factor. “ This is important because Phillips workers are about to have turn around and will be tired. If you are tired, stop and walk around and drink water. Driving drowsy is just as bad as driving while intoxicated,” explained Qualls.
Wear your seat belt
Seat belts save lives. When worn right, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or worse, thrown through the windshield and flung completely out of the vehicle.
Be extra careful in bad weather
If you’re driving through heavy rain, a snow storm or on icy roads, be extra cautious.
Don’t follow too closely and watch your surroundings
Safe driving guidelines recommend drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop.
“Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you,” said Qualls.
Practice defensive driving
This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that person came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don’t be that person.
Keep your vehicle safe
Vehicle maintenance isn’t just an important way to extent your car’s life-it’s a major safety issue.

Just by following these safety tips offered by your local sheriff’s office, your risk’s of harming yourself or others will decrease. “Take those few extra seconds to stay alive,” said Qualls.

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