In the U.S. alone, more than 143 million road users commute on roads where also tens of millions more share the same roads while traveling on foot or bicycle every day. In such a scenario road accidents are bound to occur involving a variety of people using different modes of transport. Unfortunately, road accidents have been growing due to a variety of reasons chief among them being crumbling infrastructure, traffic congestion, dangerous driving behavior, distracted driving, poor infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists and disregard for traffic rules from a variety of road users.
The alarming statistics of road accidents indicate that 32,675 fatal car accidents took place in the United States in 2014 and went up to 37,133 in 2017. More disturbing is the accidents involving pedestrians surged 46% over a 9-year period since 2008 in urban areas.
While the government has enacted America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act of 2019 authorizing $287 billion to be used over the next five years to maintain and repair roads and bridges in the U.S., it is up to you the drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to take care of yourselves by taking appropriate steps to avoid accidents as far as possible. To help you in this endeavor here are 4 steps you can take to protect yourselves from being involved in accidents.
1. Understand the physics of motion
Remember that simple physics tells you that no two objects (human, animal or inanimate) can occupy the same space. If anyone tries to do so, accidents will happen. If one of the objects is traveling at higher speed and carries a lot of weight (like a bus or a car) and these two objects try to occupy the same space then what will ensue is a huge accident (because of momentum). Obviously, the heavier object traveling at higher speed will make mince meat of the lighter objects (humans, kids and animals) traveling at lower speed. These will result in fatalities and heavy damage to property as well. Recognize the status of each one of you on the roads and behave responsibly towards others following all rules.
Pedestrians must take special care because you are at the receiving end of accidents and will be hurt the most including possibly losing your life. Don’t ever challenge a heavier vehicle. If you get into an accident and it wasn’t your fault or wrongdoing, its important to be aware of your rights. In general, you will be able to make a claim for your pedestrian injuries and receive compensation. Many people are not aware of this, and then end up losing out when injured.
2. Keep vehicles in top running condition
Keep your vehicle in tip top condition. This is important because your vehicle must respond to you especially when you want to stop suddenly or swerve to avoid hitting something or someone. Similarly, all danger indicating visual and audio signal devices such as brake lights, horns, backing signals and side indicators must function properly so that correct indications are given to other road users. Other aids such as wipers, rear-view and side view mirrors must be functional.
3. Follow traffic rules diligently
You must realize that millions of road users step out on to the roads. If they don’t follow the mandated rules accidents will occur causing injuries and fatalities to a large number of people besides damage to property. It is incumbent on you to remember all the traffic rules and follow them faithfully. With increasing road usage following rules is all the more important and necessary for safety of all concerned.
4. Personal integrity
When using public roads it is everyone’s duty to exhibit personal integrity in following rules, maintaining order, not resorting to drug and alcohol abuse, intense focus on roads when driving or riding or walking, using designated corridors for traveling, observing safety precautions (wearing seat belts, helmets, child harness) and not traveling on footboards. If you are not well for any reason you should avoid using the roads and if you still need to then you must not drive and must be accompanied by an assistant. Be courteous to other road users. Never multitask or get distracted while driving, riding or walking.
Remember, there is no place for emotions on the roads. If you want to avoid accidents respect the others’ right to be on the road and even if the other person is a moron don’t get into a sparring match.