Web Traffic School
The Traffic Safety Problems
I don't know why they call these things freeways. A better name would be "free-for-alls." I've seen ant colonies more organized than this. It's rough. But when you put an unlimited amount of cars in a very limited amount of space, it seems to bring out the competitive spirit in everyone.
Every inch of roadway becomes a prized possession that's relinquished grudgingly at best. And when nobody wants to give an inch, the situation usually reaches the breaking point.
According to the 2002 annual report of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 42,815 fatalities that were caused by motor vehicle crashes in the United States.

That makes the automobile one of the top five killers, right behind heart attacks and cancer. What can I say? Maybe we need warning messages on cars like they have on cigarettes. We haven't found every cure for heart attacks or cancer, but there's a sure cure for what ails us on the highway.


It's called common courtesy. And we could all use a little more of that just about everywhere. I realize that's asking a lot. But hopefully, by the time we complete this program, some of us will begin to understand the importance of changing our driving behavior.
When you consider the carnage that takes place on our streets and highways each day, it's almost as though we're all participants in some cruel demolition derby.

Traffic collisions take an enormous toll in both human suffering and property damage.

In the United States:

42,116 Fatalities

3,033,000 Injuries
(NHTSA, 2001).
Nationally, automobile fatalities:

are one of the leading causes of death among people 1 to 34 years of age

are the number one cause of on-the-job deaths

cost the average employer nearly $120,000 per employee death

occur 2.5 times more often than all fatalities caused by mishaps in the home

occur 10 times more often than fatalities caused by all other forms of transportation

cost taxpayers approximately $201.5 billion annually--$552 million per day
According to the 2000 Texas Department of Public Safety statistics, there were...

3,775 fatalities

approximately 1.8 deaths per hundred million miles traveled

341,097 injuries

$9.164 billion in economic loss

...as a result of motor vehicle accidents on Texas public roads and highways.
Every time we get on the road in a vehicle, we're literally taking our lives in our own hands. We are the only ones who can save lives by practicing common sense safe driving techniques every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle and routinely obeying all traffic laws.

What causes so many traffic collisions? Some blame it on the growing number of vehicles on the road today. That's certainly a factor. But the greatest fault lies in the fact that too many drivers simply don't obey traffic laws.


The five leading causes of motor vehicle crashes are:

Driving at unsafe speeds (under the limit)

Failure to yield the right-of-way
Driving under the influence of alcohol
Disregarding "Stop" and "Go" signals

Following too closely
People who drive at unsafe speeds are a major hazard, particularly on freeways and expressways.

This does not necessarily mean that these people are driving too fast. They may be driving under the posted speed limit, yet still too fast for existing weather or traffic conditions.


Right-of-way violations are the second leading cause of traffic collisions.

The term right-of-way can best be described as a privilege.


When we yield the right-of-way, we give the other car the privilege of using the roadway.
When we fail to yield the right-of-way, a collision can easily occur. The rules of common courtesy come into play when deciding right-of-way issues.

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According to NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2002, driving under the influence of alcohol is the third leading cause of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., and is the number one cause of traffic fatalities.

Also in 2002, alcohol was involved in 41% of fatal crashes in the U.S., and in six percent of all crashes.
Alcohol has serious effects on the body. Alcohol impairs judgment, motor skills, and vision.

And impairing any of those senses can have a serious impact on your ability to drive safely.
Alcohol can also have serious psychological effects that can cause abnormal behavior. Alcohol is a depressant that easily qualifies as a mind-altering drug. It can heighten anger and aggressiveness, causing a person to lose control of logical, rational thought.

You've heard it time and time again that drinking and driving is a deadly combination. However, some people just don't seem to listen.
According to the 2002 NHTSA annual report, alcohol continues to be a major factor in motor vehicle crashes in the U.S.A. Forty-one percent (17, 419) of all traffic fatalities in 2002 were alcohol related, an average of one alcohol-related fatality every 30 minutes.

All states and the District of Columbia now have 21-year-old minimum drinking age laws. NHTSA estimates that these laws have reduced traffic fatalities involving drivers 18 to 20 years old by 13 percent and have saved an estimated 21,887 lives since 1975. In 2002, an estimated 917 lives were saved by minimum drinking age laws.
Many drivers involved in crashes are the ones still breaking laws, such as drinking and driving and speeding. Unfortunately, society as a whole bears the brunt of the economic consequences associated with this negligence through higher insurance premiums and taxes as well as travel delays. NHTSA 2002 data show that highway crashes cost society approximately $230.6 billion per year, or about $820 per person.
According to NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts, in Texas, 47% of all fatalities in 2002 were the result of alcohol related accidents. This is a 1% decrease over the 1,789 alcohol related fatalities in 2001.


Disregarding "STOP" and "GO" signals and signs is another serious violation that can result in motor vehicle crashes. Racing to try to make it through a light can have serious consequences.
Not heeding "STOP" signs is even more senseless.

Under ordinary circumstances and traffic conditions, it takes very little time to stop, look, and proceed through a stop sign.

Yet, to some drivers, any stop is a nuisance. These kinds of drivers are just asking for trouble--and they usually find it, one way or another.

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It takes nearly a second of reaction time to get your foot on the brake.

And depending on the speed you are driving, you probably won't have a second if you are driving too fast.

As we will discuss in greater detail later in this program, maintaining a safe distance between your car and the car you are following is an important element of safe driving.