Modern motorists have a lot to be thankful for because today’s cars are vastly safer in every possible way than the cars of decades past.
They’re equipped with a suite of safety technology like Electronic Stability Control (ESC), Electronic Brake Force Distribution (EBD) and many other clever systems that make accidents far less likely to happen in the first place.
But then should the worst occur there are modern crumple zones around hardened steel cages, air bags and cleverly designed seatbelts to protect the occupants.
But while cars are much safer than they’ve ever been, and today’s road toll is far lower than the bad old days (the death toll peaked back in 1970 at 3798), it’s a sad fact that people are still dying and suffering injuries from vehicle crashes.
So what are the main causes of vehicle crashes these days? Well according to Australian Government's Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications there are five major causes of them in Australia.
Firstly, there’s speeding – either exceeding the speed limit or driving too fast for the road or traffic conditions. Resisting the urge to plant your foot is just good driving practice, and if you’re in charge of a vehicle fleet there’s an easy way to prevent your drivers from speeding and to protect them from themselves. Fleetdynamics’ GPS tracking devices lets you keep an eye on them remotely and tells you when they’re speeding or driving badly in other ways, saving wear and tear on your vehicles while protecting your drivers from their own bad driving behaviour.
Secondly, there’s driver fatigue. When you’re tired those vital reaction times slow down, your judgement isn’t what it should be, and you’re not concentrating on the road and what’s happening around you. So don’t drive tired is the simple message, and if you’ve been driving long distances or for many hours at a time, then take a break to revive yourself.
The third major cause of accidents is alcohol and other drugs. It should go without saying that they impair your judgement, but they also affect your reaction time to events on the road and your coordination. How much? Well at just 0.05% BAC you’re twice as likely to crash as a driver who’s stone cold sober. So the message is simple: If you’ve been drinking or taking drugs just don’t drive. That goes for some legal medications as well.
The fourth cause of accidents is driver distraction, and today’s cars with their onscreen infotainment systems have any number of features just waiting to distract you, quite apart from the dangers that come with eating, drinking and fiddling with the radio while you’re behind the wheel.
Mobile phones are a particular hazard. You’re 10 times more likely to crash if you’re texting, emailing or browsing on your mobile phone while driving, but one-in-three of us ‘fess up to doing it. If that sounds like you, then it’s time you mended your ways!
The danger of distraction is all too real. Take your eyes off the road for just two seconds at a mere 50kmh and you’ve already travelled the length of a cricket pitch, and a lot can happen in that distance.
Finally, there’s not wearing seatbelts, which greatly increases your risk of death or injury if you crash when you’re not buckled up. Not wearing this most basic of personal protective equipment, whether it’s you or your passengers, is really inexcusable when you think about it isn’t it?
Today’s cars are safer than they’ve ever been with a whole host of technology to protect the occupants from harm, but the one thing they can’t guarantee is due care and diligence from the driver. It’s up to us, as drivers, to take care of that all-too-vital bit.