There are many factors that can affect your driving skills on the road. Some of these factors are easy to avoid (distractions for example), and some require more effort on your end to ensure your safety on the road. Here’s top 5 road driving factors:
Anything that causes you to take your attention from driving, take your eyes off the road, or take your hands off the wheel is a distraction. Distractions cause your reaction time to be slower, and this means you are placing yourself and your passengers in a dangerous situation. Some distractions are eating or drinking, smoking, reading or writing, searching for an object within your vehicle, interacting with other passengers, talking on your cell phone, personal grooming, taking your eyes off the road to look at people, objects, or events taking place alongside the road, adjusting audio, texting, or rubbernecking when passing a crash scene or a work zone.
2. Lack of Sleep
The safest decision you can make when you are tired is to stop driving. This is because you react slower when you are tired, your judgment and vision are impaired, and you have trouble understanding or remembering things. Driving when you are tired can have similar effects to driving while under the influence of alcohol. Being awake for 18 hours impairs your driving as much as a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. Being awake for 24 hours impairs your driving as much as .10 percent. Falling asleep at the wheel for even a few seconds can kill you. If you are tired enough, you may not even notice that you fell asleep at the wheel at all. The best thing to do to ensure your own safety and the safety of your passengers is to stop driving if you feel tired.
3. Health Factors
For optimal safety, have your vision checked every one to two years. The aging process naturally deteriorates your ability to see in low light conditions, your distance judgment, and your peripheral (side) vision. Sometimes it is difficult to tell that your vision has deteriorated, so you must take action every one to two years in order to detect small differences in your eyesight. These small differences can make a big impact when you are on the road.
Since you can not always see dangers due to blind spots or distance down the road, you need to ensure that your hearing is also checked regularly. Hearing is what alerts you to dangers that you cannot see, such as a vehicle in your blind spot or an emergency vehicle (police, fire, ambulance) is approaching. Hearing also allows you to be aware of an approaching train at a railroad crossing.
4. Drinking and Driving
Drivers under the influence of alcohol are responsible for thousands of traffic deaths and injuries across Pennsylvania and the entire nation. Approximately 40 percent of all traffic deaths involve drivers who have been drinking.
Recent statistics in Pennsylvania show that 30 percent of drivers ages 16 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes were drinking. In every state as well as Pennsylvania, there are zero tolerance laws which means that you may not drink if you are under age 21. These statistics are despite that fact.
If you are a driver under age 21 and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .02 percent or more, you are considered to be driving under the influence (DUI).
As alcohol builds up in your blood, your driving ability will decrease. The number of errors you will make increases substantially, and even with a small amount of alcohol in your blood, you have more of a chance to endanger your life and the lives of people around you. The only safe amount of alcohol you can drink, and then drive, is zero. It is not only heavy drinking that is risky, but any drinking at all.
Alcohol affects individuals differently based on age, weight, gender, physical condition, amount of food consumed, and any drugs or medication you have in your system. Different drinks contain different amounts and types of alcohol. Make sure that you are aware of the types of alcohol you are consuming. In order to maintain responsible drinking, you should only have one drink per hour if you are of legal drinking age.
5. Drugs and Driving
While illegal drugs are dangerous to yourself and potentially dangerous to other people, especially if you are behind the wheel, you should also consider that over the counter or prescription drugs can affect your driving ability.
There are many prescription drugs that have a warning on the label that you should not operate a vehicle when you are taking that medication. If this is the case, follow those instructions in order to keep yourself safe and the people around you safe as well.
20 percent of deaths among motorists each year are due to drugs. Combining drugs and alcohol is especially risky, and will increase the chance of a car crash.