Is There Such a Thing as a Safe Speed?
What's the relationship between defensivedriving and legal speed limits? Is there such a thing as a safe speed? The answer is no. Thanks to a recent study conducted by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, we now have the research findings to prove it.
The Virginia Tech study tracked 100 cars in the Washington, D.C. area. What's interesting about this study is that it logged the daily experiences of real drivers in real driving situations. Instrumentation added to the cars allowed researchers to examine the causes of crashes and near crashes. At the same time, the instrumentation was so subtle that drivers quickly forgot it was there.
Each car in the study was monitored for about one year. The results tell us a great deal about defensive driving. The study found 82 collisions and crashes (with another vehicle or with a cyclist, pedestrian, or stationary object); 761 near crashes (defined as a rapid, severe maneuver that avoided a crash); and 8,295 incidents (evasive maneuvers that are not as severe as those involved in a near crash).
The study concluded that driver error was a contributing factor in more than 90% of the crashes and collisions that occurred. In 65% of all incidents and 80% of all near crashes, the driver looked away from the road ahead of him immediately before the threat materialized (defined as three seconds or less). The lesson is clear: Defensive driving means keeping your eyes on the road.
The study concluded that a major contributing factor in collisions is the driver's inattention to the road ahead of him. The study found that 18 to 20-year-olds are at the highest risk of being involved in a collision. (The study didn't include drivers under the age of 18). The study also shows that risk decreases with age: Defensive driving is a set of skills and mental habits that are acquired over the years.
The study found that the No. 1 cause of collisions was fatigue. Multitasking was the second leading cause of crashes and near crashes. The "secondary task distraction" that was involved in the greatest number of crashes, near crashes, and incidents was the use of hand-held wireless devices. Defensive driving means staying focused on the task of driving.
It's statistically safer to be around an experienced driver who is traveling ten miles over the speed limit on an interstate highway in good weather and light traffic, than to be near a distracted teenager driving home from the mall-a few miles under the speed limit, perhaps, but fiddling with a soda, munching on fries, and text messaging friends. As soon as an inattentive driver takes his eyes off the road, any speed is unsafe.
Inexperienced drivers react to hazards after they happen. Experienced drivers see potential hazards before they happen. They have time to drive out of danger because they see the danger in time.
It's always easy to know what kind of driver is ahead of you by watching how he uses his brakes. Masters of defensive driving are rarely in a situation where they have to slam on the brake. On the other hand, novices have to push on the brake as hard as they can to avoid a collision.
Be sure your teenagers learn this first lesson of defensivedriving today: No speed is safe when they take their eyes off the road.
Comments 83 comments
Take a look at my other hubs and posts
More by this Author
Features Mapquest Driving Directions and others too... Since I have a genuine interest in driving directions and mapping software, I thought I just publish this review from my friend Joshua Nestor
While competitors dwell in a sea of internet homepage frenzy, the Google Homepage design remains fairly aloof, yet somehow manages to catch the collective eye of internet surfers around the world!