PRIMARY CONTRIBUTING CAUSES OF TRAFFIC DEATHS AND INJURIES IN CALIFORNIA 2001:
These statistics were taken directly from the California Highway Patrols website. We can observe from the chart below that the leading cause of injuries from a collision is speed. We only mention this particular cause because it is the easiest one to prevent. Please take a few seconds to familiarize yourself with the information below. This will hopefully help you become more aware of potential causes of collisions and increase safety while driving.
Driving under influence of alcohol or drugs
Wrong side of road
Stop signals and signs
Unsafe lane change
How do I protect myself and avoid a collision?
When most drivers' realize they are about to be in a collision, they hit the brakes. This is not always the most prudent course of action. Sometimes hard braking can lock the wheels (unless you have antilock brakes, in which case pumping can lock them), and cause the vehicle to skid.
Remember, there are three ways to possibly avoid a seemingly imminent collision, though it is unlikely that most driver's reflexes are fast enough to take advantage of them. Being aware of them helps:
STOP QUICKLY -- Otherwise known as a screeching halt, this maneuver is accomplished by applying firm, steady pressure to the brake. If the car begins to skid, release the brake. Step on the brake again, using firm, steady pressure. Repeat this process until the car stops.
SWERVE TO SAFETY -- If you do not have time to stop, turn aside. Run off the road or into a bush if you need to. Running off the road is usually better than hitting another car. Try not to brake as you turn, you will have less control.
SPEED UP -- Sometimes you can speed up to avoid a collision. This may work if a car is going to hit you on the side or rear of your vehicle.
If you cannot avoid a collision, do your best to protect yourself:
- Use your arms and hands to protect your face if you are wearing a shoulder strap.
- If you are not using a shoulder strap, throw yourself across the seat so that you do not hit the steering column or the windshield.
- Be ready to brake so that you will not be pushed into another car.
- Do not tense the muscles of your body. Try to relax and move with the flow of the impact.
We hope that you never have to put into practice any of these steps, but simple awareness may just save you from serious injury.
Antilock Brakes must not be pumped!
We have talked a lot about antilock brakes, but let us take a brief moment to discuss a few more details. Antilock brakes are an exception to the no stomping or pumping rule. Antilock brakes are made to do the pumping for you. Go ahead and press your foot on the brake if you have ABS. You will feel the pedal vibrate under your foot. Do not let up. This is the normal experience of the brakes doing their job.
What if I come across a collision?
If you see vehicle warning hazard lights ahead, slow down. There may be a collision or other road emergency ahead. Stop and give assistance or pass very carefully, if possible. Sometimes on your car radio, you will hear collision reports. Radio or news reports of collisions or roadwork often refer to numbered traffic lanes. The left or "fast" lane is called the "Number 1 Lane." The lanes to the right of the #1 lane are called the #2 lane, then the #3 lane, etc. Avoid driving near collisions. Take another road if you can. Those injured will be helped faster if other vehicles are not blocking the road. Never drive to the scene of a collision, fire, or other disaster to look. You may block the way for police, fire fighters, and ambulances, and you may be arrested for doing so.
It is against the law to follow closely behind any fire engine, police car, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle with a siren or flashing lights.
If you must drive near a collision, do not slow down just to look. You may cause another crash. Drive by carefully and watch for people in the road. Never drive over unprotected fire hoses! Obey any order from a police officer or fire fighter. Their orders should be obeyed even if you must ignore normal traffic laws or signs in order to comply.
What if I see a collision?
If you are the first person at a collision scene, pull completely off the road after you have passed the collision. Check to see if anyone is injured. Tell the next person who stops to call 9-1-1. Give that person any information you may have regarding the injured person or persons. Here are a few more steps to consider while at the scene of a collision:
- Ask other people to warn approaching traffic and put out flares or emergency triangles, if any are available. Watch for and avoid gasoline!
- Help anyone who is not already walking and talking.
- Do not move the injured unless they are in a burning vehicle or in other danger. Moving often makes injuries worse.
- If a motorcyclist is unconscious, removing his or her helmet could make the injuries worse. If possible, let a trained medical person remove the helmet.
- Move the vehicle(s) involved out of the traffic lane if it is not disabled. Turn off the ignition of any wrecked vehicles. Do not smoke! Fire is a great danger.
- Search the area for victims thrown from the vehicle. They may be hidden in grass or bushes.
- Whenever you drive past a collision, and emergency help is already at the scene, do not slow down to "take a look." Keep on going. Pay close attention to the orders and directions of law enforcement or fire department personnel. Rubbernecking at a collision scene is dangerous and slows traffic even more.
- Always face traffic when walking or standing on the roadway or freeway shoulder.
The person calling 9-1-1 for emergency help must be ready to answer questions and provide important information such as:
- Location of the emergency: Cross streets, freeway on / off ramp information, etc., and the number of the phone you are using.
- What happened? Know as much as possible about the collision, injury, etc.
- How many people need help. Is anyone bleeding, unconscious, or without a pulse? Is first aid being given?
- DO NOT HANG UP FIRST! Be sure you have provided all necessary information. Let the emergency dispatcher hang up first.
Did you know:
The next time you watch an old B&W movie, notice the absence of plastic items. Metal, wood, fabric and glass were the materials of the era. It wasn't until after WWII, in "The Synthetic 50s," that plastics began assuming what would become a ubiquitous presence in everyday life. The first man-made plastic -- called Parkesine -- was created by Alexander Parkes who first publicly demonstrated it at the 1862 Great International Exhibition in London. Cellophane was invented 1908, PVC was patented in 1913, Teflon in 1938 (kept secret by the military until the early 60s), nylon in 1939, and Styrofoam® in 1954.