Living life in the fast lane; flirting with disaster's mistress
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- Mankind's greatest quest to move faster and to shorten time between destinations, is one of the pillars of societal progress. However, our affinity with pushing the limit is also filled with danger.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speed is involved in one out of three fatal crashes. It is one of the most significant contributors to crash severity, traffic fatalities and driving violations.
Despite people's "need for speed," speeding is dangerous, for many reasons. The NHTSA has boiled it down to two factors:
· It increases the stopping distance of your vehicle. The faster you go, not only are you covering more ground in the one to two seconds it takes for you to decide to hit the brakes, but it also increases the distance it takes for your car to stop. It's basic physics.
· Speeding also enhances the amount of force released in an accident. The faster you go, the harder you hit.
Driving within the speed limit allows for more time to react to unexpected variables like other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, pot holes or other road obstacles. It is impossible to control the actions of other road users, and no one can predict changes to the road environment that may require you to slow down to avoid a hazard. So, even if you consider yourself a "good driver" or get into an unavoidable crash, driving within the speed limit will allow you and others the best chance of survival.
Misawa has strict rules against speeding. If caught you could face losing points against your license.
· 1 -16 kilometers per hour over the speed limit you lose 3 points
· 17-24 kilometers per hour over the speed limit you lose 4 points
· 25-32 kilometers per hour over the speed limit you lose 5 points
· 33-and over the speed limit you lose 6 points and get your license revoked for a year
"The goal is to make the roads safe for everyone," said Senior Airman Lee Tamburro, 35th Security Forces base defense operations center controller.
Staff Sgt. Christopher Rivers, 35 SFS police services, agrees with Tamburro.
"The roads aren't a race track; slow down," said Rivers.
Unfortunately, despite the penalties and dangers when speeding outside the race track people still do it. Why? There are several reasons: they're in a hurry, they don't take traffic laws seriously or they don't expect to get caught.
Motor vehicle incidents are complex events that are a result of various driver and environment-related factors. Although this makes avoiding an accident nearly impossible, driver-related factors that contribute to car crashes are mostly behavioral in nature; making it easier to control. Research from various safety programs and associations have surmised these behaviors to include impaired driving and aggressive driving.
Driving impaired is associated with speeding among drivers involved in fatal crashes. However, it doesn't just apply to inebriated drivers. Although alcohol-impaired drivers are more likely to speed and negate the use of seat belts, driving impaired also includes driving distracted. This includes: talking or texting on phones, eating and drinking while driving and even putting on make-up.
"You call it multi-tasking. We call them distractions," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Dotson, 35th Fighter Wing safety.
The truth is, that quick text to a friend or smear of lipstick applied to the lips is time taken away from the road. As said before, the roads are filled with unpredictable possibilities. So, remember those seconds you spend changing your music are seconds lost in evading a child rushing after his ball in the middle of the street.
Aggressive driving is a problem on roadways. But, what is aggressive driving? Most of us know it when we see it. According to NHTSA's research, aggressive driving is defined as occurring, "when an individual commits a combination of moving traffic offenses so as to endanger other people or property."
Usually drivers become aggressive when pressed for time. When confronted by an aggressive driver on the road Dotson suggests letting them pass.
"It's safer for you to just let them pass you. Don't challenge them, just let them go on by," said Dotson.
There are tons of websites and pamphlets with more information on why speeding is dangerous and how to survive the ways of the road, most of it you learn before the government hands over your license; still most people speed. Speeding is a habitual behavior, which means there's only so much law enforcement can do. It is the drivers' responsibility to make the roads safe.
So, the next time you decide to flirt with disaster's mistress, remember what and who you're risking.
"Driving is a privilege, not a right," said Rivers. "So, drive by the rules or lose the privilege."