Our driving culture is a mess, and the problem on our roadways seems to getting worse. As a crash lawyer, I have had a front row seat for a steady increase in collisions that cause serious injury and traffic fatalities. I estimate that 10 years ago about 5% of the drivers on the road were considered “dangerous”. Now, largely due to the significant increase in drivers using cell phones behind the wheel, some traffic safety experts think up to a third of the drivers (33 1/3%) on the road are driving dangerously.
But it is not just “distracted driving” that is responsible for the high percentage of dangerous drivers. There is plenty of the evidence to show that all of us are driving faster and more aggressively. In my opinion, drivers are now facing a new universe of roadway risk.
In my role as a driver safety advocate, my primary work has been to develop programs and driver safety campaigns that help fix our driving culture. One of the ways we can fix our driving culture is to take a new approach with our traffic safety campaigns.
New Campaigns That Influence Drivers To Protect Themselves
Most of us are familiar with driving safety campaigns that instruct us not to engage in certain driving conduct that can lead to an accident. You all have heard them. The campaigns usually have a core message along the lines of Don’t speed, Don’t drive drunk, Don’t text and drive. Although these campaigns are well-intentioned, they just don’t work – at least to the level that many thought they would.
Instead, I am urging state transportation officials and authorities adopt an entirely new approach that influences drivers to protect themselves against other drivers. There are several reasons why these type of campaigns are more effective. First, and foremost people are most interested in self-preservation. If they know about a risk, they will take action to protect themselves against the risk.
Secondly, drivers have become over-confident when it comes to operating their own vehicle. Over-confidence behind the wheel leads to many of the dangerous driving behaviors. The way to reduce over-confident driving, is to alert drivers to a risk they can not control. That risk is the other driver- we no longer can assume the other driver is paying attention, has control of their vehicle, or following the rules of the road.
The bottom line is that when you alert drivers to the risk of the other drivers and urge them to protect themselves, they will adopt the habits and behaviors of safe drivers. They will drive more alert, buckled, cautious, and defensive.
This is just one idea on how we can fix our driving culture. In future posts, I will explore other methods to help reduce the types of collisions that cause serious injury and worse. I would also appreciate your shares or posting reply comments & ideas.