How to Stay Alive When You Drive

The number of Americans killed in motor vehicle crashes topped 37,000 in 2016. Learning the main causes of motor vehicle accidents and deaths can help keep you and your loved ones alive and well.

Slow Down

Driving over the speed limit or too fast for road or visibility conditions is one of the most common causes of traffic accidents. It’s a factor in about one-third of all vehicle deaths.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding increases your risk for a more severe crash, raising your risk for more serious injuries as well.

Stay Awake

Drivers who were fatigued or sleep-deprived were responsible for two percent of deadly crashes in 2016. Getting enough sleep is the best way to prevent drowsy driving. Aim to get seven to eight hours of sleep each night.

Don’t Drive Drunk or Drugged

Every 51 minutes, an American dies in a motor vehicle accident that involves an alcohol-impaired driver. The annual toll: more than 10,000 people. In addition, drugs other than alcohol, such as marijuana or cocaine, are involved in about 16 percent of motor vehicle crashes.

If your social plans involve alcohol, arrange to get a ride home, call a taxi, or designate a nondrinking driver.

Stay Focused

In 2016, 3,450 Americans were killed in motor vehicle accidents that involved distracted driving.

Distracted driving occurs when people behind the wheel do anything that has the potential to take their attention away from the primary task of driving. That can include texting, using a cellphone, eating, drinking, grooming, reading, using a navigation system, talking to passengers, or changing the radio station.

Use Restraints

Wearing a seat belt reduces the risk for serious injury or death by about 50 percent. Even so, millions of American don’t wear a seat belt on every trip they make in a motor vehicle.

To keep you and your family safe, have everyone use a seat belt or proper child passenger safety seat on every trip. They should buckle up no matter where they’re seated in the vehicle.

Remember: Making sure you’re fit to drive could save a life.

For more information, visit National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at

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