Driving: Do’s and Don’ts

Driving: Dos and Donts

As students all over campus are getting their licenses, it seems necessary to address proper driving etiquette for those who are new to the road as well as those who are more experienced but need a little refresher.

According to numerous studies, the leading cause for car accidents among drivers of all ages is distracted driving. Riding around downtown Lafayette, I can’t even begin to explain how many people I’ve had to drive cautiously around who were going either 10 miles over or under the speed limit because they were talking on the phone.

I’ve seen more women than I can count applying makeup and fixing their hair as they continue down the ridiculously narrow streets of Lafayette, and I’ve also had the honor of watching one woman drive all the way down Johnston street while balancing a book on the top of her steering wheel. With distractions such as eating, texting, digging around for items inside the car, or engaging in conversation with other passengers, it is very easy to become side-tracked and not focus on your surroundings.

Following up on the list of causes for vehicle collisions are speeding, drunk driving, or reckless driving. Following the simple laws of physics, the faster a person is going in a car, the greater the amount of force applied and the less time they have to react in time of emergency. Along with that, alcohol is a depressant, meaning it slows down the nervous system, making the user vulnerable to their surroundings as well as causing a great decrease in their general response time. Reckless driving includes speeding and racing, activities which put innocent lives in danger.

Another cause of car accidents is due to weather and natural events that are not in our power to control. Studies have shown that the risk of hydroplaning in a car is far greater after rain has just begun to fall rather than water that’s been sitting for a while. It is believed that this is caused by fresh water making contact with the asphalt and causing it to release oil,thus, making the pavement slippery. It is advised that in situations regarding strong wind, rain, or fog, you are to drive 5 to 10 miles per hour below the posted speed limit.

Finally, the best way to avoid causing an accident is to be a defensive driver. This saying  is drilled into our minds over and over again in Drivers Ed classes, yet some people continue to ignore the warnings. A large part of being a defensive driver has to do with having focus and being aware of your surroundings. If drivers were more focused on who’s turn it is at the four-way stop rather than what artist is playing on the radio, many accidents could be easily avoided. Just turn down the radio, be cautious of your surroundings and if you see someone who looks like they could be a potential danger, keep your distance and let them go. It may seem unfair to you, but whether it’s now or in the future, they’ll come to realize that their driving habits aren’t in the best interest of everyone  (now whether or not this epiphany is brought on by a speeding ticket or a large fine, it’s anybody’s guess).