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7 Most Deadly Driving Mistakes

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 41,059 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2007. Many of these lethal crashes were caused by common driving mistakes that even “good” drivers are guilty of making at times. Have you made these potentially lethal driving mistakes?

Swerving

The most lethal driving mistake made by U.S. drivers is not staying in their own lane. — i.e., drifting off into the next lane or running off the road completely. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2007, 15,574 people died in crashes caused by drivers swerving out of their lane.

Speeding

Speeding (driving above the posted limit, racing, or driving faster than road conditions warrant) is the second most lethal driving mistake (NHTSA). Driving a vehicle at speeds above 55 mile per hour is particularly perilous: 30 percent of lethal crashes occur at 55 or above.

Failure to Yield Right of Way

Failure to yield while merging into traffic is the most lethal driving mistake made by drivers age 70 and over. Overall, failure to yield right of way was the fifth leading cause of fatal crashes in 2007.

Driving While Drowsy

Fatigued driving caused the deaths of 1,404 people in 2007 (NHTSA). More lethal crashes occurred between the hours of 3 a.m. to 6 a.m. than at any other time of day. Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Drinking and Driving

Every 45 minutes someone is killed in a drunk driving accident. Young drivers are particularly susceptible to making the lethal mistake of drinking and driving; drivers between the ages of 21 and 34 are responsible for more than half of all lethal crashes in which alcohol played a factor. The lethal driving mistake of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated is made most often at night and on weekends. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 60 percent of drivers who died after dark in 2007 were legally intoxicated.

Not Wearing a Seat Belt

In spite of the fact that buckling up is the law, one-third of all vehicle fatalities occur in people who fail to wear a seat belt. It’s a particularly lethal mistake when you consider that, without proper seat belt usage, drivers and passengers put themselves at risk of being ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash and that seventy-six percent of all ejections end in death.

Inattentive Driving

Eating, applying makeup, talking on a cell phone, typing text messages, attending to children or pets (ever see Fido bouncing around the front seat at 55mph?), and changing CDs or radio stations are all examples of inattentive driving, which was responsible for 4,704 deaths in 2007. Cell phone usage while driving increases the risk of crashing by four-fold. Think using a hands-free device reduces your risk? Think again. According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, using a hands-free cell phone can be just as lethal.