This is an excerpt from one of the recent episodes of 'Do I Need a Lawyer?' hosted by: Gary Martin Hays.
My firm is here to help when tragedy strikes but one thing I'd like to do is try to prevent these horrible accidents from ever occurring.
So please allow me a few minutes to talk about an important issue that effects everyone that owns and operates a vehicle.
And this is an especially important topic because summer is the busiest time of the year for people to be on our nation's highways.
Just over Memorial Day weekend, AAA estimated that more than 36 million people traveled more than 50 miles from home.
But with all of these people on the roads, the dangers also increase.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 377 people died in crashes over the Memorial Day Holiday weekend in 2012.
Over that same time period in Georgia, there were 650 car wrecks which resulted in 6 deaths and 377 injuries.
So what can you do to keep yourself and your family safe when you are behind the wheel?
Let me give you 8 tips that can help:
(1) Drive defensively.
This means paying attention to what everyone else is doing when they are on the highway.
You can help reduce the risk of a collision by anticipating and avoiding mistakes of others or because of adverse driving conditions.
For example: If you are in the fast lane but you see a car speeding up behind you, get over. The speeding car may not judge the speed of your car or he may not be paying attention to the road ahead. By getting over into the right hand lane, you are helping avoid something bad from potentially happening.
And if it is pouring down rain, reduce your speed. Adjust your driving habits for the type of weather and road conditions you are experiencing.
(2) Always wear a seat belt.
According to the Center for Disease Control, seat belts reduce the risk of crash related injuries and deaths by about 50%.
(3) Ensure that your vehicle is in proper working condition.
Make sure you keep your vehicle serviced at regular intervals.
Check the brakes to make sure they work.
Always check the tire pressure as well as the tread wear on your tire.
Use the penny test.
Insert a penny into the treads on your tire.
If the tread covers any part of Abraham Lincoln's head, then you at least have the minimum tread necessary to operate on those tires. If the tread does not cover or touch his head, then it is time to get new tires to prevent a blowout or a tread separation disaster.
(4) Don't drink and drive.
Whenever you drink alcohol, your ability to safely operate a vehicle is impaired.
According to the CDC, in 2010, 10,228 people were killed in alcohol impaired driving wrecks.
Alcohol impaired drivers are involved in about 1 in 3 crash deaths.
Have a designated driver or call a cab. It's that simple.
(5) Don't text and Drive or try to use your cell phone while driving.
Never attempt to send a text or try to read a text while driving.
You are not only taking your eyes off of the highway, but you are also diverting your attention from the road ahead.
No text or phone call is that important.
Texting while driving makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash.
If you are simply talking on the phone, you are 4 times more likely to be involved in a wreck.
And remember - your kids are watching and will repeat your conduct when they get behind the wheel.
So be a good example and practice what you preach.
If you must text or take a phone call, pull over to a safe location.
(6) Don't speed.
Obey the posted speed limits!
According to a 2011 report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, speeding was a contributing factor in 30% of all fatal crashes, and 9,944 lives were lost in speeding related wrecks.
(7) Watch our for pedestrians, bicyclist and motorcyclists.
Be alert. You share the road - not only with other drivers, but two wheeled vehicles, joggers, and pedestrians.
Under Georgia law, you must give at least 3 feet of room between your car and the bicycle when passing.
Also, pedestrians have the right of way when crossing the street in a crosswalk.
(8) Be courteous.
Don't follow other vehicles to closely.
Stay off the horn when possible.
Don't flash your headlights to show you are angry or upset.
Don't cut between vehicles to change lanes.
Plan ahead so you can leave in plenty of time to get to your destination.
I know this is a lot of information - but it's important information.
I want you to arrive alive so you will not experience the pain and hassles of becoming a car wreck statistic.
If you have any questions, please feel free to call us at (770) 934-8000 or you can check our website at GaryMartinHays.com.
And if you find yourself or a family member or friend injured because of someone else's negligence, then please - pick up the phone and call us right away.