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Safe Highway Driving

Updated on September 7, 2013

Don't Be A Fatality

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System Encyclopedia, on average in the United States about 55,000 fatal traffic accidents occur annually. Of these, about 23,000 involve passenger cars, about 22,000 involve light trucks, about 4,500 involve large trucks, around 5,300 involve motorcycles, and less than 300 involve busses. Therefore you can greatly increase your odds of surviving highway travel by simply leaving your car at home and taking the bus. However, if taking the bus is not an option, here are some tips to help you arrive safely.

Speed Kills

According to, 95% of traffic accidents occur because of driver behavior, and the most dangerous behavior by far is excessive speed. In today's cars, it is easy to have a false sense of confidence in one's ability to stop in time when in reality the laws of physics have not changed. If you are driving at 30 mph and there is a pedestrian in the crosswalk 45 feet away, you will be able to stop. If you are driving at 35 mph, you will not be able to stop. It's that simple. To avoid causing or being a fatality, reduce speed.

Road Rage

Road rage that results in use of a car as weapon or physical confrontation is a criminal offense. Aggressive driving may or may not be a moving violation, but in every case it is behavior that causes accidents. In addition to speeding, aggressive driving behaviors as listed by the New York State Police include:

  • Tailgating
  • Frequent or unsafe lane changes
  • Failure to signal
  • Failure to yield right of way
  • Disregarding traffic controls
  • Impaired driving

If you would like to avoid possible death, injury, damage to your vehicle, or an inadvertant appearance on the "Cops" television show, drive defensively and free of impairments such as alcohol or other judgement-impairing substances.

Road Hazards

Many accidents occur when difficult road conditions such as rain, ice and snow, or road construction are present, but almost never separately from the behaviors described above. Therefore, if you remember to slow down even more, use your turn signals even more religiously, and generally drive even more defensively than usual, you will greatly increase your chances of getting through these conditions unscathed.

Although drivers like to blame accidents on other drivers or driving conditions, only a very small number of accidents occur due to 'acts of God' independent of any driver misbehavior. You can make driving much safer for yourself immediately by taking responsibility for your own behavior as any adult should.

Mechanical Failure

With today's cars, designed and built as they are under strict government regulation to be as safe as is humanly and finacially feasible, accident due to mechanical failure accounts for a very small number of highway accidents. With redundant braking systems and improved tires, highway accidents due to brake failures or blowouts is a rare occurrence.

To avoid mechanical failure, comply with your vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedule and follow your car mechanic's advice. If, just prior to mechanical failure you happen to be driving safely, your odds of surviving may be enhanced.

Happy Motoring

Statistics show that most accidents occur because of aggressive or inattentive driver behavior. Drive defensively and stay alert and your chances of having an accident decrease. As a side benefit, you will also reduce the stress you experience when you drive. Stress is not good for you. Therefore, defensive, courteous driving is beneficial to you in more than one way.

So why not do it?


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    • profile image

      Mark Patton 

      8 years ago

      I've seen so many instances of road rage lately. We are all stressed out and sometimes do dumb things on the road. Let's cut each other a break now and then and let calmer heads prevail.

    • Isabelle22 profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere on the coastline

      This is a hub everyone needs to read. I consider myself a safe driver, it is the lunatics around me at times, that worry me.

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      Wow, this guy wrote his own hub! Thanks, Scifinut!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think it comes down to this: When operating a motor vehicle, you're sitting in a stationary position for an extended period of time, reacting primarily to visual stimuli. Truckers and other professional/commercial drivers know this as 'another day at the office', and take their actions behind the wheel seriously. But, as we know, not everyone that does drive could/would be paid to do so. Some people are not attuned to the potential hazards of the situation, tend to let their attention wander, or for whatever reason don't have their attention fully focused on the road, and there's also people that just have the attitude of 'I'm sitting in my super-safe car, which in my head equates to a TANK, therefore all those safe driving things really don't apply to me, and if I hit something, the insurance will take care of it'. That whole general train of thought leads to one station, False Sense Of Security Central.

      I used to work at a tow yard. The nightly casualties would be lined up to greet us in the morning, tons and tons of mangled metal resulting from various 'accidents'(I don't believe in accidents), ranging from apparently not seeing the road well enough to one situation where people were playing 'chicken', and both parties lost...big.

      Another car came in that tangled with a semi, and came out third-best of a possible two. They covered that one up with a tarp and shipped it out the same month.

      A car, any vehicle, is at its' core, a piece of metal, a box with chairs in it and 4 wheels. If the little rubber balloons on the wheels should lose contact with the road surface for some reason, you could end up being a passenger even with the steering wheel in your lap, which could lead to the steering wheel being in your chest.

      I think that an educational way to look at car safety is to read about demolition derby racing, where the object is to disable all the other cars. Some people know this activity as 'Thursday', and you can roughly gauge and compare people's normal assertiveness to how they drive, only difference is where people are roughly equal physically, on the road, there can be radical differences in vehicle power, steering/handling, and crashworthiness.

      Then, there's traffic, or the unexpected, such as washed-out pavement, animals, weather, mental state of the driver, mental state of the passenger(s), traffic density, road glare, all kinds o fun that can throw random factors your way.

      Best bet? Stay on your toes, mentally. Don't screw around with your digi-toys while driving. Do YOU want to be the person that the only way they can get your Blackberry from you is to pry it out of your cold, dead fingers(after they pry YOU out of the car?) Um, 'no'.

      Check out your car. Check those tires. Spring for the 5 bucks for a tire gauge. Pop the hood(not while driving) and familiarize yourself with the contents underneath. Find your power steering pump, coolant bottle, windshield washer bottle, dipstick(NOT you), and learn what your car sounds like when it's running normally, so that you know what to listen for on a road trip.

      Don't over-drive. Don't over-drive(break) your car, and don't overdrive yourself, don't go on 'autopilot' where you're just not honestly aware of what's going on around you to a sufficient degree to be a safe and responsible motorist.

      Take breaks. Maybe Lance Armstrong gets points for endurance, but you're just trying to get home or whatever your destination is, and unless there's a million bucks involved or something, getting there an hour earlier by taking a lot of risks and speeding the whole way is a habit that'll get you in trouble, in an accident, and if nothing else, a nice fat ticket.

      Watch yourself, as you drive, and NOT with the rearview mirror. You'll crash if you do that. Rather, pay attention to how you act. If your middle finger keeps having extension spasms and your Tourettes' keeps acting up when you drive, you need to work on your attitude. And, under the right circumstances, someone else, a cop or a fellow disgruntled motorist might choose to 'help' you with your attitude, which would be 'bad', so it's better if you figure out how to contain yourself, and at least develop the ability to externally manifest the type of conduct expected of an adult(leave your inner child out of this, he's probably the one that got you the ticket last week, so leave him in the child safety seat in the BACK seat, not the driver's seat). In other words, control yourself. You're in control of a 2-ton car, and being successful at that starts with some self-control. Stop lights are not 'christmas trees', they're traffic control devices. Stop. Go. Stop. Go. It's kind of stop-and-go, there. They're not places to stage impromptu drag races, pick your nose(or other parts of your anatomy), just a way for people to honor the right-of-way of others. Left-of-way also, depending on conditions. So, don't get IN the way, there.

      'Me first' is kind of the American slogan, in a lot of ways. Do you have to be first in line? No. Taking third place will do nicely, and cost less gas, and leave you high enough in the points running to win the cup at the end of the season. LOL

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      Passive/aggressive road rage! I sense another hub coming on...

    • glassvisage profile image


      9 years ago from Northern California

      This is a great Hub, Tom! I took traffic school and learned that if you are tailgated and then you slow down, then you are a road rager as well! (I am guilty of that sometimes... :D )

    • hubber-2009 profile image


      9 years ago from India

      Tom Rubenoff,

      thanks for presenting this page for my Request...

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      No offense taken, hub buddy. Differing points of view are welcome!

    • Misha profile image


      9 years ago from DC Area

      Flack? Sorry Tom, did not mean to offend...

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      I was a little surprised to take flack over my stance on speeding, but there ya go, freedom of speech in action.

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image


      9 years ago from Fremont CA

      Very good practical advice

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      all good. I'll read yours too.

    • Misha profile image


      9 years ago from DC Area

      Well, if you don't mind I won't retype my take on the issue, and just post a link to it. Feel free to deny the comment if you don't want the link to be here :)

    • Tom Rubenoff profile imageAUTHOR

      Tom rubenoff 

      9 years ago from United States

      It is a matter of judgment. Statistically speaking, many, many accidents occur because of excessive speed. Good judgment will determine what is excessive. Bad judgment will fail to do so and may cause an accident.

    • Misha profile image


      9 years ago from DC Area

      Speed does not kill, Tom. Stupidity does...


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