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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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Introduction

Traffic accidents are consistently one of the top 5 causes of death in the United States. Although some accidents are unavoidable, the sad truth is that thousands of lives would be saved each year if drivers were aware of the physical, psychological, road, and weather conditions which increase accident risk and took defensive steps to insure safe driving.


There are between 450,000 and 500,000 traffic accidents reported annually in California alone. About 60% of these accidents involve property damage only, 39% involve injury to a passenger, driver, or pedestrian, and about 1% result in death. One person is killed every two and a half hours in California, and one person is injured every 2 minutes, as a result of a traffic collision.


Although drivers under 30 years of age account for only about 23% of licensed drivers, they comprise about 35% of all drivers in fatal and injury collisions. Teenage drivers have total accident rates which are 4 times that of adults. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers.


Faulty Driver Performance
As was discussed in Lesson 3, there are a number of physical conditions which can affect safe driving and physical abilities which are necessary for avoiding accidents. Physical conditions which can lead to accidents include poor vision, poor hearing, illness, and fatigue.


Vision
Good vision is important for safe driving and avoiding accidents. You need to have good visual acuity, peripheral vision, depth perception, and glare resistance and recovery. Good vision allows you to identify potential hazards and react more quickly. You should have your vision checked and wear prescription lenses as necessary to compensate for a visual deficiency. You also need to keep your view unobstructed by not hanging things from your mirrors or otherwise blocking your windows, and keeping your windows and mirrors clean. A number of accidents are caused by not checking blind spots. Make sure to turn your head before merging into a lane during a lane change or before making a turn.

Hearing
Good hearing is also necessary for safe driving and avoiding accidents. Your hearing can warn you of danger such as the presence of vehicles in your blind spots. Make sure to have your hearing checked periodically. You should also keep your radio turned down and it is illegal to wear dual headphones while driving. Driving with at least one of your side windows open will also allow you to hear what is going on outside your vehicle better.


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Lesson Summary


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Lesson 9 Quiz


You will now answer 5 questions to test what you learned during this lesson. You must answer all questions correctly to receive completion credit for this lesson. You may answer the questions as many times as necessary to get them right.

You should review the lesson material if you don't do well on the quiz.

  1. If you are distracted for one second, by a cell phone, passenger, or other distraction, at 30 mph you will travel how far "blindly"?


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  2. To avoid tailgating, and help avoid a rear-end collision, you should give yourself a gap of how many seconds behind the car in front of you?


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  3. Teenage drivers have a total accident rate that is _____ times that of adults:


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  4. Failure to yield is the primary cause of what percentage of fatal and injury collisions?


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  5. If you have a tire blowout:


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