Since many people juggle busy schedules, work, family, and other activities, it’s tempting to cut corners. It’s tempting to pick up that cellphone and check notification, send a text, or make a call. It’s tempting to eat and drink behind the wheel during the morning commute. When running late, it may be tempting to speed, weave through traffic, or blow through a red light.
What is driver conditioning and how does it impact road safety?
When drivers become too comfortable and confident in their ability to take these risks, anything can happen in the blink of an eye. According to the National Safety Council, Dean Johnson, president and founder of The Sandy Johnson Foundation: Making Our Roads Safer, refers to this as “driver conditioning.” It tends to affect those who have been driving for years and have abandoned the essential safety precautions taught in driving school.
Dean Johnson asserts that driver conditioning was likely a factor in the 2002 death of Sandy Johnson and her mother, Jackie. As the two approached their final destination on October 5 of that year, they briefly stopped at an intersection. Another driver who was about to make a left turn yielded her the right-of-way. As she proceeded through the intersection, she was then fatally struck by an SUV traveling southbound at 55 mph.
How can driver conditioning be broken?
In order to mitigate the likelihood of crashes caused by driver conditioning, Dean Johnson suggests laws implementing these three approaches:
- Required study: Attending driving school and obtaining a driver’s license shouldn’t be an endgame. Drivers should be reminded of the skills and precautions they were taught in driving school by taking an online test every time they renew their licenses.
- Public service announcements (PSAs): We have plenty of PSAs telling people not to drive drunk or text behind the wheel, but nothing regarding the dangers of driver conditioning. Johnson advocates for PSAs on local television, radio stations, and social media.
- Early education: Driving the message home early on is a great approach for teaching children and teens how to maintain good driving habits. Many teenagers will obtain a driver’s license before reaching the age of 18.
Questions every driver should be asking
In addition, Dean Johnson urges drivers to periodically step out of their comfort zone. For example, drivers should take alternate routes to and from work that they don’t normally take. Drivers should also take a moment to reflect on the habits they have become comfortable with by asking themselves these questions:
- Do I find myself multitasking behind the wheel?
- Do I find myself picking up my cellphone to check notifications, send a text, or make a call?
- Do I habitually drive faster than the posted speed limit?
- Do I engage in risky driving behaviors such as weaving through traffic, tailgating, or blowing through stop signs and traffic signals?
- Am I fully aware of my surroundings when I drive?
Regardless of their comfort level, drivers have a duty to uphold on Chicago roads. If you or a loved one was hurt in a crash because another driver failed to do so, speak to an experienced car accident attorney at Coplan + Crane as soon as possible. Pursuing a car accident claim can be confusing and frustrating. Let our legal team do the work for you. Contact us online today to learn more.