How Do We Prevent Motor Vehicle Deaths?

Apply a Safety 360° mindset to motor vehicle safety.

Mark P. Vergnano - Board Term: 2007-2020
February 18, 2019

The National Safety Council found that in 2018 an estimated 40,000 people across our country lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes. Hundreds of thousands more sustained injuries, many of them permanent. Will 2019 be any different? Unfortunately, we see few signs of progress.

The full magnitude of this national crisis does not stop at 40,000. With each person lost, dozens of other lives are changed forever. In an instant, happily married women and men become widows or widowers, parents lose their children, lifelong friendships and partnerships come to a painful end.

It’s sad, frustrating, even maddening to consider that ALL these tens of thousands of incidents — every single one — can be prevented. What causes them and how to prevent them is no mystery at all.

The challenge of going from 40,000 to zero lost lives calls for a Safety 360° mindset, which means embracing safety not just as a priority but as an obsession — in all settings and at all times. Applying a Safety 360° mindset to the three main causes of motor vehicle crashes— alcohol, speeding and distracted driving — translates into the following list of “Always” and “Never” admonitions:

Always insist that all passengers buckle up in every seat. According to the Motor Vehicle Safety division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this reduces the risk of death and injury by nearly 50%.

Never get behind the wheel if you’re impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Always err on the side of caution, keeping in mind that even one drink compromises your ability to drive safely. Remember, even medication prescribed by a doctor can also be impairing.

Always — even when it may be inconvenient — use a designated driver to ensure that you and others arrive safely at your destinations.

Never think that being on time for a business meeting or social engagement is worth risking your life and safety — and the lives and safety of others. Always drive at a speed that you are 100% confident is safe. Never determine a safe driving speed based solely on the road signs. Always consider the conditions.

Never overestimate your ability to multitask. If you think a text message or phone call might be too important to wait, get off the road and bring your car to a full and safe stop. Don’t believe the myth that hands-free phone conversations are safe; more than one study has shown they are on par with drunk driving.

Always remember that when it comes to distracted driving your cell phone is not the only culprit. Distractions such as fast food and FM radio dials can also take your eyes and mind off the road.

Never fall prey to the belief that it can never happen to you. In the absence of a Safety 360° mindset, it can happen to anyone. So when driving, make safety not just your top priority, but your only concern.

Finally, especially for those who feel you are already on board with the above advice, there is one more thing you can do — become a part of the NSC Safety Ambassador Program. This program offers numerous tools and activities for keeping ourselves and our families, friends, neighbors and communities safe.

Click on the image above for a message from NSC Chairman Mark Vergnano, CEO of The Chemours Company.

Mark P. Vergnano - Board Term: 2007-2020

Partner with NSC

With a century-long legacy, the National Safety Council is a global center for safety expertise. Let's work together to align resources. We look forward to learning about ways we can join efforts to expand safety everywhere!

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