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9. Auto Accidents: Causes & Prevention

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Illness, Fatigue, Stress

Illness

Illness can impair your ability to transmit visual and auditory information to the brain, impair the ability of the brain to act on it, impair your ability to rapidly take corrective action such as changing the direction and speed of your vehicle, and can cause you to fall asleep at the wheel.


Certain prescription and over-the-counter medications taken for illness, even common cold medications, can cause you to become drowsy while driving.


You should be very careful if you choose to drive when you are feeling ill. You are responsible for knowing the effects of the medications you take on your driving ability. If you are ill, you should be at home resting, not driving on the roadway, particularly if you are using medications which can cause drowsiness.


Fatigue

Physical and mental fatigue increase the likelihood of accidents by affecting your vision, judgment, and reaction time. Falling asleep is the primary collision factor in about 1% of fatal and injury collisions in California.


Driving when you are tired is just as dangerous as driving when you have been drinking alcohol. The more tired you are, the more dangerous it is. When you are tired, you are less alert. The body naturally wants to sleep at night. Most drivers are less alert at night, especially after midnight.


You increase your chances of being in a collision if you are tired or fatigued because you may not see hazards early enough, or react as quickly as is necessary.


If you are tired, the only safe cure is to get off the road and get some sleep. If you don't, you risk your life and the lives of others.


Emotional Stress

As was also discussed in Module 3, avoiding accidents requires that you focus on the task of driving. Some psychological factors which can lead to accidents include: (a) being emotionally distressed or tense, (b) being distracted by personal problems or environmental conditions inside and outside your vehicle, and (c) having inadequate training and practice.


Safe driving requires concentration. If you are preoccupied with your emotions, you will not be able to focus on the task of driving safely. Therefore, you should not drive if you are under severe tension, emotionally distressed (e.g., angry or upset), or otherwise preoccupied with your emotions or thoughts.


Heavy traffic, bad weather, and road work can cause you to become stressed, especially if you are in a hurry. Being late to work or to an appointment can also cause you to become stressed, and hence drive unsafely. If you allow yourself to become stressed, you may express your feelings inappropriately and cause an accident.

Lesson Summary


  

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


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  2. If you have a tire blowout:


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  3. 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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  4. 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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  5. Teenage drivers have a total accident rate that is _____ times that of adults:


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