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Traffic Safety Rules - First Line of Defense


Transportation Safety & Defensive Driving

Recently, as a safety consultant, I was asked to customize a defensive driving course for a customer, using material I developed and enhanced over the past 28 years. To ensure I use the most updated information in the course materials, I conducted necessary research to obtain the most current data available. Among various resources used was the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts”. Although I was not surprised by some of the numbers provided, I was a bit stunned to see that there appears to be another increase in vehicle crashes across multiple industries.

We seem to hear about driver distractions being a major cause of vehicle accidents, as well as driver fatigue, and drivers being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I do not argue that these are all factors in thousands of accidental injuries and deaths each year. However, I do believe there is another major factor in most vehicle crashes these days, which may be the biggest reason of all. A sound defensive driving course will include more than just these obvious issues.

We continue to see and hear messages about not texting while driving. We see ads in magazines, newspapers, on TV, and even at the movie theaters about not texting while driving. There are still commercials, articles, and billboards about not being under the influence while driving. But, how long has it been since you have seen an article or an ad about knowing and abiding by every-day common and basic transportation safety rules?

Maybe it’s because I am an experienced safety consultant, but this is a big pet peeve of mine. It seems as though people only paid attention to the rules long enough to pass a driver’s test in order to obtain a drivers’ license, and since, have either forgotten or just don’t care about these important safety rules.

This thought ran across my mind recently, as I was reading about the 260,000 employees injured, and the 764 additional employees who died in vehicle crashes in 2016. These numbers only represent those people who were involved in a work-related vehicle crash. So, I decided to look out my office window and monitor the driving behavior of those people approaching the stop sign across the street.

I monitored 12 hours of traffic at one stop sign over a period 6 days. Here are the results:

  • 202 total vehicles observed
  • 29 drivers came to a stop at this sign-14%
  • 97 drivers slowed down a bit, but did not stop-47%
  • 79 drivers did not even slow down-39%
  • Of these 79 that did not slow down at all, 24-12% were traveling at approximately 25 mph when going through the stop sign to turn right.

Without interviewing these individuals to determine why they do not obey traffic safety rules, I will not know as to why, but one fact remains…they do not believe they are important. Therefore, I am left to believe that this is a major cause of many preventable vehicle crashes across our nation.

The first line of defense in driving…everybody needs to obey all the same rules all the time.

Think Safe…Be Safe!