Rest Up and Be Ready To Drive
Drowsy driving is a recipe for disaster. As many as one in five fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That percent is higher than previous estimates.
Get a good night's sleep before setting out. If possible, have an alert adult passenger in the car at all times to look out for road hazards and suggest a stop, a nap or a switch in drivers if you're tired. During a longer trip, plan to stop every 100 miles or two hours for a break, experts advise. It can be brief — enjoying the view at a rest stop or taking a quick coffee or restroom break. Skip heavy meals before you set out; all those carbs and fat can make you doze off.
Check Road Conditions
If you don't have a traffic app on your phone, such as Waze, check out state sites that alert motorists to road conditions. Two examples are I Drive Arkansas and Idaho 511.
Plan Daylight Trips
If at all possible, start and finish trips during daylight hours. That automatically reduces risk of accidents automatically, experts say. The death rate at night from traffic accidents is three times that of daylight driving. Hazards rise at night for many reasons. More impaired drivers are on the road, whether due to drinking or drugs. Some drivers may also have night-vision impairments that could pose risks for themselves and other motorists.
Beware the "Ds" of Dangerous Driving
In addition to drowsy driving, drinking, drugs and distraction all boost the chance of an accident. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one person dies in an alcohol-related accident every 51 minutes in the U.S.
Drugs play a major role in highway accidents, too. According to a recent NHTSA survey, about 22 percent of drivers involved in accidents tested positive for illegal, prescription or over-the-counter drugs. Prescription drugs most often found include: Alprazolam (Xanax), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), Oxycodone (OxyContin) and Diazepam (Valium).
Distracted driving is also hazardous, and cell-phone use may top the list of causes. An estimated one in four car crashes involves the use of a cell phone, the National Safety Council experts say.
Watch Your Speed
Excess speed is a factor in about 70 percent of accidents involving fatalities, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Buckle Up, Front and Back
Seatbelts are standard equipment in vehicles, yet many of us still don't get it, especially when we're sitting in the back. Only 78 percent of adult passengers in the backseat use seatbelts, according to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association, compared to 87 percent in the front seat. In vehicle crashes that involved a fatality, only 60 percent were wearing seatbelts in the back and 74 percent in the front, the report found.