As we head into 2021, let's all pledge to be better drivers wherever the road takes us in the year ahead. Here are five New Year’s driving resolutions that will make the road safer for yourself and other drivers, including law enforcement and first responders who risk their lives every day working traffic incidents.
1. Resolve to not drive distracted.
Distracted driving remains a dangerous and deadly problem on U.S roads. The CDC reports that in the U.S. in 2018, over 2,800 people were killed and an estimated 400,000 were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. Here are some tips to follow in 2021:
- Put your cell phone down and focus on the road.
- Don’t text and drive.
- Set your destination in your navigation before heading out on the road.
- Speak up when you’re a passenger and your driver uses an electronic device while driving. Offer to call or text for the driver, so his or her full attention stays on the driving task.
- Resolve to remain an engaged driver even when new advanced driver assist safety (ADAS) technologies are in use. Resolve to know how they work and to understand their limitations.
2. Resolve to not be an angry driver.
A recently released AAA study
found that regardless of gender, nearly 8 in 10 (79%) American drivers demonstrate aggressive behaviors when behind the wheel. Researchers say speeding tops the list, with men being the biggest culprit, though women are not far behind.“Speeding, red-light running, and cutting other drivers off can kill you, your passengers, and others sharing the road,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy. “Driving aggressively isn’t worth the risk. When you get behind the wheel, be patient, be kind, and obey traffic laws so everyone gets home safely.”In 2021 resolve to avoid road rage with these tips:
- Don’t Offend: Never cause another driver to change their speed or direction. That means not forcing another driver to use their brakes, or turn the steering wheel in response to something you have done.
- Be Tolerant and Forgiving: The other driver may just be having a really bad day. Assume that it’s not personal.
- Do Not Respond: Avoid eye contact, don’t make gestures, maintain space around your vehicle and contact 9-1-1 if needed.
Also remember to share the road with motorcyclists.
3. Resolve not to drink or use other substances and get behind the wheel.
According to NHTSA
, 10,511 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2018. In 2021 resolve to:
- Designate a sober driver.
- Call a cab or use a service like Uber or Lyft to get home safely.
- Download NHTSA’s SaferRide mobile app, available on Google Play for Android devices and Apple’s iTunes Store for iOS devices. It allows users to call a taxi or a predetermined friend and identifies the user’s location so he or she can be picked up safe and sound.
- Not allow your friends to drive impaired.
4. Resolve not to speed or run red lights.
In 2018, speeding killed 9,378 people, and nearly half of those killed were not wearing seat belts according to NHTSA stats
. Running red lights is also a problem. AAA also recently reported
a 10-year high in red light deaths in the U.S., with 939 people killed in red light running crashes in 2017.In 2021 resolve to:
- Obey the speed limit.
- Avoid running red lights.
5. Resolve to not drive when you’re sleepy.
According to the National Sleep Foundation
, half of American adults consistently report that they have driven drowsy and approximately 20% say they've actually fallen asleep at the wheel in the previous year. Drowsy driving is such a big problem on the roads that a growing number of automakers are now offering new safety systems to combat it. These systems are designed to use sensors to help detect driver fatigue and inattention and then warn them about it. In 2021 resolve to:
- Get more sleep.
- Be aware of medications you are taking that may cause drowsiness.
- Get off the road at the first sign of being drowsy at the wheel. Signs include:
- The inability to recall the last few miles traveled.
- Having disconnected or wandering thoughts.
- Having difficulty focusing or keeping your eyes open.
- Feeling as though your head is very heavy.
- Drifting out of your driving lane, perhaps driving on the rumble strips.
- Yawning repeatedly.
- Accidentally tailgating other vehicles.
- Missing traffic signs.
Every one of us as a driver has an important role to play in keeping our roads safe so let’s all resolve to be better, safer ones in 2021.