Road Safety and Traveling
When you first think of traveling the world what first comes to your mind? For me, it is the opportunity to completely saturate my senses in an environment filled with new sights, sounds, and experiences. The LA Times and USA Today have built upon these feelings by suggesting that traveling also provides educational and health benefits. Given the vast benefits we can gain through travel, a focus on road safety is a key aspect often overlooked, for without it, our chance of arriving safely to our destination is severely diminished.
This notion was instilled upon my mind when my uncle and I equipped with MapQuest directions set out on a road trip to Alaska. Having completed 3 days of driving and fighting an increasing feeling of sleep deprivation, we found ourselves in the middle of the Canadian Wilderness. Both my uncle and I knew we should stop and get some rest, but our excitement of reaching Alaska’s untamed wilderness coupled with the naivety of youth convinced us to continue driving. With minutes turning into hours, my uncle drifted off to sleep leaving me to fight my own feelings of tiredness and driver fatigue. About an hour later, I was awakened by the rumble strips as we crossed the road’s shoulder and headed toward a roadside ravine. Miraculously, I was able to calmly correct the car and reenter the driving lane without my uncle knowing anything had happened. However, this experience forced me to focus on highway safety as I pulled to the side of the road. After my uncle woke up, I told him what had happened, and as he relayed a similar experience from a few hours before we decided that road safety would be our first priority from that point forward.
Reflecting on this experience got me interested in the actual statistics of how many travel related deaths occur each year in the United States. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) approximately 30,000 highway deaths occurred during 2012 which is a 3.3 percent increase from the previous year. Increasing awareness of road safety and helping drivers follow best practices will allow this statistic to decrease. The insurance company AAA knows the importance of keeping drowsy drivers off the road and has provided suggestions on how each of us cannot only remain alert while driving but also recognize the early symptoms of sleepiness. Had my uncle and I followed AAA’s recommendation and not traveled during times when we are normally asleep or made sure that we both stayed awake while on the road we could have limited the possibility of being involved in an accident.
As each of us takes the time to familiarize ourselves with road safety we will be able to help organizations like NOD.D. and Zero Fatalities reach their goals through increased public awareness of the dangers driving presents as we unite to focus our families and loved ones to truly drive with zero fatalities.