Wednesday, October 26

Watch out

How Good Drivers Get Killed By Ralph Kinney Bennett
...more than half of [head-on collisions] occurred in daylight and more than 80 percent of them in dry weather....More fatal accidents of every type seem to occur in nice weather when drivers may relax their guard; in bad weather, the majority of drivers tend to be more cautious, more attentive....

Is there anything you can do to reduce the risk of meeting another car head-on? There is one measure that eliminates much of the risk. Forget the scenic route and head for the highway. Use major highways where traffic flow is separated by medians, and access is controlled by on- and off-ramps.

...police officers advise extra wariness when approaching intersections, even when you have the right of way. Their best tip: as you approach and see a car about to cross or enter the road you're on, don't just look at the car to see if it comes to a full stop. Check the driver too. Is he or she looking your way? Does he or she appear distracted? It could be your best warning of an accident waiting to happen.

...deadly crashes at red lights increased at more than three times the rate of all other types of fatal auto accidents.

To avoid them, the best advice remains the lesson motorists learned from their high school driver-ed teachers: "Even when your light has changed to green, take one more look both ways before proceeding....You've got to protect yourself. Too many drivers consider the yellow light a 'last chance' to get through an intersection rather than a caution signal...."

Even if you're tooling around a shopping-mall parking lot, there are traffic signs you must obey. Yet many drivers simply blow them off. As a result, a variety of other "failure to yield" collisions -- beyond traffic signs and stop lights -- make up smaller percentages of driver deaths, but taken together, they can be serious killers. And they occur where there are no stop signs or traffic lights, at unmarked side roads, in driveways, and at entries to shopping-center parking lots. These kinds of failure-to-yield accidents took the lives of 11 percent of our good drivers who had the right of way.

The most important conclusion to draw from the statistics compiled by the National Safety Council is this: stick to major highways whenever you can. An overwhelming 86 percent of traffic fatalities happen on side roads and byways. Only 14 percent occur on major highways, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
14%! A lot my Chinese friends think the highways are more dangerous than driving around their neighborhood.

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