Traffic accidents have many causes
SIKESTON -- With the weather warming up and summer creeping around the corner, many people will occupy the highways over the next couple of months. Whether traveling with family, friends or alone, there are a few, basic safety tips that every driver and passenger should be aware of.
Sgt. Brent Davis of the Missouri State Highway Patrol said it's hard to determine when traffic accidents will occur.
"Obviously with more traffic, there are going to be more fatalities," Davis said. "I was surprised that we didn't have as many deaths as we usually day on Memorial Day weekend this year. Normally between 12 and 16 people are killed statewide on that holiday. Last weekend, I think two people died from traffic accidents."
Davis said there are a number of issues to be concerned about when traveling. One of these issues is for drivers to make sure they are mentally and physically prepared to drive, Davis said.
"Some people think, 'It's only an 11-hour drive,' but they've worked all day long," Davis said. "Then they decide to travel after work and through the night when they probably aren't in the best state of mind."
Drivers might think they have good cars or that they can just set their cruise control if they're tired, but these aren't logical reasons, Davis said. Instead, drivers should make other people drive and stop often to keep the blood circulating, he advised.
Davis said four major reasons exist as causes of most traffic accidents, with the most popular being inattentiveness, Davis said. The other main causes are speeding, not wearing seat belts and drinking and driving.
A common habit of some drivers is to "drink two or three beers" while enduring a long drive and "it'll be all right", but Davis warns those drivers that it's not all right for them to do.
"When you drink alcohol, speech is slurred and reaction time slows down," Davis explained. "Each drink heeds toward that feeling and judgment is impaired."
Once on the highway, other things can happen as well. Aggressive drivers who want to play vehicle tag shouldn't receive a response from other drivers. Rather than playing along with the game, Davis recommends not making eye contact with the other driver and to pull off to the first public place available to leave the aggressive driver ahead.
If for some reason a traveler's car breaks down, Davis suggests staying with the vehicle and don't get in another vehicle even if "someone looks like they mean well." Many car troubles like flat tires and running out of gas are preventable, Davis said.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) recommends a few helpful hints to ensure safety for travelers. Before leaving, drivers should ask their mechanic to check their vehicle's systems such as fluid levels, belts, hoses and tires. Next, AAA suggests that drivers read their map beforehand so they know where they're going and how they'll get there.
After travelers make it safely to their destination, Davis offers a few suggestions for staying in motels. "Motels are the favorite place for thugs to rob people," he said. "If someone you aren't expecting knocks on your room door, don't answer the door. Call the front desk and ask if they sent someone up."
Davis also said everyone should keep their car doors locked and to not leave things lying around where they can be seen by other people. If these things aren't done, people are just inviting others to steal their belongings, he said.
One more reminder rounds off Davis' list of traveling safety tips. "Wear your seat belt," Davis said. "Almost never is someone who is killed in an automobile accident wearing his seat belt. It really does save lives."