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The statistics from the National Safety Council's "Accident Facts" are staggering.

Every 12 minutes someone dies from a vehicle accident. Every week 844 people lose their lives and 42,000 people are injured due to vehicle accidents. An interesting question to ask regarding these accidents is how these drivers rate their own driving skills. Many would say they were very good drivers. Yet, they met their fate in an instant. From the time an accident starts until it ends takes less than two seconds! Since 1988, 380,000 people have been killed in vehicle accidents. Thirty-nine percent of these accidents were alcohol-related which means about 231,000 of the fatalities involved SOBER drivers!

Looking more closely at the 844 weekly fatalities it is important to understand that none of these people expected their fate until it was too late! The Driving Institute of America (DIA) teaches how to detect a possible accident situation -- Detect and Expect

You are driving down a busy highway, approaching a green light. The right corner of the intersection has a building blocking vision to the right. This is your first DETECTION of minimized visibility. The expectation would be (even though you have a green light) that someone running the red light could strike you in the intersection! This situation requires reduction in speed until the obstruction is cleared and the intersection is clearly visible, thereby avoiding any vehicle running the red light. Remember also that a green light never really means "GO." The safe working definition of a green light is to "always approach with caution." Running red lights is actually a very common cause of accidents. Just remember to approach every intersection with caution and "adjust your speed according to the available visibility."

Why are the statistics so high? Many accidents are caused by "offensive" rather than a "defensive" drivers. Planning properly prior to starting out eliminates the need to drive offensively.

DIA's "1520 Rule" encourages leaving sufficient time to reach a destination 15-20 minutes prior to the actual arrival time. For example, you are scheduled to be at work at 8:00 a.m. and it takes approximately 20 minutes to drive from your home. You leave at 7:45! Immediately you have become an "offensive driver" in a hurry to get to work on time! This creates many dangerous habits such as backing out of driveway in a hurry, excessive speeds in your residential area, tailgating, changing lanes without signalling, running red lights, hasty pullouts at intersections, and driving too fast in your company parking lot. An offensive driver becomes irritable with other drivers who are driving safely and at proper speeds. Other traits of the "offensive driver", are driving discourteously, driving negligently, driving hastily, being a risk taker, and being complacent. Does this describe you? If so, your possibilities of someday becoming an accident statistic are very high.

Live by the "1520 Rule" and avoid becoming an "offensive driver." Become a disciplined driver who is not complacent or in a hurry, but rather a driver who is in control.

Remember to plan your departure with sufficient time to arrive 15-20 minutes ahead of time.

Avoid becoming an "Offensive Driver."

Remember that a green light does not mean "GO" but "approach with caution."

Practice being a courteous, disciplined driver and be in control at all times.

All DIA articles are intended as increased professional knowledge for improving perception of driving and driving skills. This information will not eliminate any accident on the part of anyone who fails to drive according to these principles. Drive courteously and responsibly!

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