Life at deployment is vastly different compared to home. Besides your daily routine, your driving habits also change. There, the only thing on your mind is survival, and traffic rules don’t apply. There’s not much traffic on the battlefield to begin with.
Unfortunately, the battle never seems to end, even after deployment. Once you’re home, it might take you a while to get used to driving in busy traffic. According to statistics, Reno experienced 237,338 car accidents between 2016 and 2020, and that’s just one city. This is why you need to be more careful while you’re on the road.
That said, here are some road safety tips to get you and your passengers home unscathed.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes for drivers in the U.S. For every mile per hour you drive over the recommended speed limit, you increase the likelihood of getting into a fatal car crash by a huge margin. So, to reduce your chances of getting into a fatal road accident, you should always drive within the recommended speed limit.
Don’t Follow Too Closely
Depending on your role and where you served, you may have gotten a mission to follow a target. In the mission, you probably had to keep your distance to avoid detection. The same applies to regular driving on the road.
Keeping a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you gives you enough time to respond in case of an emergency, such as a sudden stop or turn. In this regard, the National Safety Council recommends following the three-second rule.
The rule typically implies that when the car or any vehicle right in front of you passes an object that’s not moving on the side of the road, you should be able to count three seconds or more before you pass the same object. It might take some getting used to, but with enough practice, you’ll be able to keep a safe minimum distance seamlessly.
Practice Defensive Driving
Road rage or aggressive driving is a pretty common occurrence in the U.S. Sometimes, you’re just minding your business, driving safely on the road, only for someone to cut you off without warning.
In this case, practicing defensive driving could be a lifesaver. It typically involves remaining calm and handling yourself appropriately. Safety tips like the ones discussed here are also a form of defensive driving.
Don’t Drive Drunk
Alcohol-related accidents account for nearly 30% of fatalities on the road. What’s even more alarming is that 1 in 10 returning veterans have a problem with alcohol or other drugs. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, alcohol can significantly reduce reaction time and coordination. It also lowers inhibitions, causing you to take greater risks on the road.
At higher levels, alcohol can cause blurred vision or even cause you to lose consciousness behind the wheel. Therefore, if you’ve been drinking, call a cab or ask a friend to drive you home. It’s not just your life you’re saving—it’s also the lives of everyone else on the road.
Watch Out for the Other Guy
Never assume that everyone else on the road knows what they’re doing. You could be driving within the speed limit and following all traffic rules, only to have someone come out of nowhere and crash into you.
People do unexpected lane changes, swerve, tailgate, and even switch on indicators when they’re not really making a turn. There’s no limit to the possible mistakes the other drivers might make. Therefore, you should always pay attention on the road and be ready to respond at all times. Keep your eyes on the road and consider the position of every car around you. This way, you’re better able to respond appropriately in an emergency.
Wear Your Seatbelt
Seatbelts are some of the most underrated life-saving devices out there. You may be a hardened veteran, but impact with a vehicle traveling at 50 mph is enough to throw you out the windshield and onto incoming traffic. Data from the NHTSA shows that in 2017 alone, almost 15,000 people survived serious road accidents because they were buckled up correctly. Therefore, always wear your seatbelt even when traveling at low speeds or short distances.
The Bottom Line
Regardless of how many times you were ready to give your life in the service of your country, when you get back home, you’re solely responsible for guaranteeing your safety on the road. While you may not be able to predict or prevent an accident, following the tips above can significantly reduce the chances of getting into an accident and even save your life when it happens.