Attention Runners, Tailers, Weavers and Darters

July 12, 2016

Try this experiment: count how many times in one day that you see a car blast through the red light at a traffic stop. When you start counting, you might actually be surprised how often this happens. So the question must be posed: What is the advantage to running the light? Does it really make that big a difference for the arrival time at the desired destination? In fact, running the red light could land someone at their “final destination.”

Do you get nervous when you can see the person in the car behind you on “your tail?” Whether the cause is someone on a cell phone or texting or someone just simply in a hurry, distracted driving and following too close is a major cause of motor vehicle crashes. (Is it really that important to get a message right then and there?)

Are you a weaver and darter in and out of traffic, especially on the highway? Do you travel way beyond the speed limit? Do you pass in no-pass zones? Again, the question arises, what advantage does this create for reaching your destination if your driving behavior causes an accident? Do you wear your seatbelt (and if you have children, are they in a proper car seat?) Data overwhelmingly has demonstrated that seat belts save lives when used properly. And it goes without saying, drinking and driving are never acceptable.

Motor vehicle crashes are caused by carelessness, impaired or distracted drivers, faulty operation of a vehicle or failure of vehicle equipment. Motor vehicle crashes can be prevented.

Consider these CT statistics from the Department of Public Health

  • Unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, were the 4th leading cause of death for ages 15-44 (2012 data.)
  • Between 2006 and 2010, 1,516 CT residents died from crashes. In 2014, there were 248 deaths from motor vehicle related crashes.
  • From 2007 to 2013, there were 14,012 hospital stays and 191,984 Emergency Room visits due to motor vehicle crashes during that same time period.  

But data doesn’t always hit home. A traffic accident will cause you to stop and think about your driving behavior. Even if you were lucky enough to be in a motor vehicle crash and escape without bodily injury, you can lose your license or your car and it is likely that your insurance rates will go up.

It is not that hard to reduce the number of car crashes. Slow down, obey the traffic laws (including those on cell phones and texting), wear your seatbelt and do not mix alcohol with driving. These actions will prevent a great number of injuries and deaths caused by motor vehicle crashes.   

You may think “but I am not the “red light runner” or the “weaving speed demon” on the highway so what can I do about this problem? You may know someone who does not follow traffic safety rules. Perhaps you could leave this column in a noticeable spot. Or if you are a passenger in a car where the driver is not following safety rules, speak up and say something. The life you save may be your own.  Quinnipiack Valley Health District serving residents in Bethany, Hamden, North Haven and Woodbridge, wishes you a safe summer. Call QVHD, 203 248-4528 or request on line, dculligan@qvhd.org for information about health topics. Visit our website, www.qvhd.org where you can link to our Facebook and Twitter.