Hazards are everywhere we look on Pennsylvania’s roadways. We have to contend with changing weather conditions, debris on the road, road construction, potholes, ice and snow (during the winter months) and more every time they get behind the wheel. In addition, we must deal with other drivers, watch our speed, drive defensively, and follow the rules of the road.
No matter how safe you drive, though, your safety could be at risk because of the poor choices of other drivers. Among the worst of bad driving behaviors are the “four Ds,”: distracted driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, and drowsy driving.
Distracted driving is an epidemic across America. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that about 481,000 drivers are using their phones (to talk or text) at any point during just the daylight hours. These distracted drivers cause 4,000 deaths and a further 400,000 injuries each year.
Driving while intoxicated is illegal, but that doesn’t stop thousands of drunk drivers from climbing behind the wheel every day. The NHTSA reports that drunk drivers (those with a blood alcohol content of .08 or more) are about 300 times more likely to crash than sober drivers are.
As more states legalize marijuana for recreational and medicinal use, the number of drugged drivers on the road is expected to climb. Drugged driving is dangerous whether the substance at hand is a prescription narcotic or sleeping pill, an over-the-counter cold medicine, or a street drug like marijuana. It can be just as dangerous as drunk driving, and it comes with the same possible legal penalties in most jurisdictions.
Studies show that drowsy drivers have reaction times and impaired judgment akin to drunk drivers. Fatigued drivers cause an estimated 72,000 crashes each year, resulting in roughly 800 deaths and 44,000 injuries. The real numbers could be much higher, though, as the NHTSA estimates that drowsy driving is grossly underreported. They say that as many as 6,000 deaths could actually be attributable to sleep-deprived drivers.