Often, a person has many things on their mind when they get into their car. From the stress of work or deadlines, to dealing with the needs of family and friends, it can feel, at times, that it is difficult to be able to focus on driving. Many may say that the act of driving becomes monotonous over time, especially if a person drives the same route at the same time every day. However, new information from Dolphin Technologies may shed light on why drivers should pay attention behind the wheel, especially in the beginning of their trips.
A new study from the Austrian-based telematics provider analyzed data from more than 3 million car trips in 2018 and 2019 collected from their vehicle systems. This information from more than 40,000 drivers found that, out of the 1,986 accidents their systems cataloged, more than a 30% occurred within the first 10 minutes of a person starting their car.
Unfortunately, car accidents continue to be a prevalent issue on roads across the U.S. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic shifting traffic patterns and number of cars on the road, there are still difficulties in ensuring all drivers are alert and aware when they get behind the wheel. This new information from Dolphin Technologies highlights a startling trend in driver safety – distractions early in a car trip can greatly increase a person’s risk of an accident, even in just a few minutes.
Why Are Short Trips More Dangerous?
In September of 2020, Dolphin Technologies analyzed the behavior of more than 40,000 drivers over a two-year period to look at driver habits and traffic patterns, including how and when accidents occurred.
“Some drivers drive the same path each and every day, which means they may not be paying as much attention to their surroundings as they should,” said Attorney Arren Waldrep from Price Benowitz LLP. “It can be pretty common for accidents to occur simply because a person is used to a certain trip and they don’t think to look for pedestrians, other cars, or bicyclists in places they normally are not, which can create a dangerous roadway for everyone.”
In fact, their data revealed that almost 25% of all accidents they surveyed occurred during the first three minutes of driving, with an additional 14% happening within the first six minutes. The data from Dolphin Technologies noted that a majority of trips, 87%, last less than 30 minutes, which could have influenced the results.
How to Minimize Safety Concerns
Chief scientists with Dolphin Technologies noted that many accidents are the result of wrong decisions or lack of information. Sometimes drivers are tired, distracted by a phone or radio, or they may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol while behind the wheel. Other times, there may be unexpected obstructions to a roadway like construction or extreme weather conditions that affect a person’s route in an unexpected way.
Many drivers can benefit from three core driving rules: drive defensively, minimize driving distractions, and be alert of a car’s surroundings.
Driving defensively may not appear to be as serious of a safety strategy as some drivers may think, but driving with the understanding that the environment is changing, and being able to adapt, is a great way to practice safe driving. A defensive driver can look like a driver who frequently checks their mirrors or drives under the speed limit to give them ample time to make decisions if other drivers are not being cautious.
Another way to prioritize one’s safety while driving is to minimize distractions. Some of the more basic distractions a driver may not think about can be the radio, car lights, or loud passengers. By setting up the radio and leaving it alone, or telling passengers to be respectful of the driver, these distractions can be prevented before an accident occurs. Additionally, alcohol and drugs or medication can influence a driver’s ability to be alert and aware, so withholding from these substances when getting behind the wheel of a car is also crucial.
A third tip to be a safe driver is to be aware of the surroundings of one’s car when driving. As the data from Dolphin Technologies shows, every drive should be treated like an important drive. New obstacles or dilemmas may appear in a person’s driving path within the first few minutes of a drive, so staying alert of the surroundings where a person is driving can help prevent accidents before they even occur.
There are a lot of ways that a driver can practice safe driving, particularly as colder weather affects the roads for many across the country. By staying alert, minimizing distractions, and driving defensively, a driver can save themselves from an accident in the first few minutes and throughout their drive.