Staying Safe on the Roads: Life-Saving Tips You Can Use Every Day
With driving fatalities on the rise, use these tips from Shepherd Center’s director of injury prevention and education to stay safe on the roads.
By Emma Harrington, director of injury prevention and education at Shepherd Center
If you feel like people are going faster than ever on the roadways and are noticing more distracted drivers on the roads, you are not imagining it. In Georgia and nationwide, we are seeing a significant uptick in fatal crashes even though many of us continue to shelter in place and forgo our usual driving routine. With wide open highways and byways, speeding has increased dramatically, leading to more force being dispersed during a crash, resulting in catastrophic injuries and fatalities. Now more than ever, it is important to control what you can as a driver, paying particular attention to your teenage drivers.
At Shepherd Center, we have seen an increase in referrals due to motor vehicle crashes. In fact, the number of patients referred to Shepherd Center due to injuries caused by car, truck or motorcycle accidents in the fourth quarter of 2020 was 22% higher than the same period the year before. Of those, there was a 44% increase in the number of patients with brain injuries, with the number of patients referred for spinal cord injuries remaining flat. Finally, the number of patients referred under age 21 due to motor vehicle crashes was more than 50% higher than the same period the year prior.
Instead of fearing the roads, I encourage everyone to take some basic, life-saving precautions that can prevent you or your loved ones from becoming part of these statistics. Here are my top tips for staying safe while driving.
- Always wear your seatbelt and insist that everyone in your car wear one too. Unrestrained passengers can become human projectiles during a crash.
- Leave plenty of room in between your car and the car in front of you. While dangerous drivers may use the space to zip in and out of lanes, you will have enough lead time to stop if needed.
- Never drive in between two tractor trailers.
- Always pass on the left!
- When passing big trucks, make sure you can see their mirrors and leave plenty of space. Eighteen-wheelers need a lot of time and space to come to a complete stop.
- While it may be tempting to take advantage of a clear interstate at rush hour, stick to the speed limit.
- Focus! Take away all distractions before driving and just drive. Now more than ever, it is nearly impossible to unplug. Use your driving time as the precious alone time you rarely get!
- Keep an eye out for the super speeders and the lane hoppers and avoid them. There is nothing wrong with driving in the slow lane!
- Use this time to give your teen driver plenty of practice, but plan your route accordingly to avoid high-speed situations. Slowly gain confidence and skills around the neighborhood during non-peak driving hours.
- Utilize Shepherd’s free AutoCoach® app, a tool developed to guide parents in teaching safe driving practices to teenage drivers.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neurological conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.