Dispatch from the Razor's Edge, the Blog of Michael Stephen Fuchs
How To Not Die In A Car Crash
(Previously "Holiday Safe Driving Harangue")

Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for Americans age 1-44. (That's everyone too young to be at risk for heart disease, cancer, and stroke, the biggest overall killers.)

In 2017, 37,133 Americans died in road crashes – that's more than 9/11, every month – and 2.5 million were treated in emergency rooms for injuries, many of them disfiguring or disabling. Between 1899 and 2012, records indicate that 3,551,332 Americans died in motor-vehicle crashes (seven times as many as died in WWII).

Even worse, there were 1.25 million road traffic deaths globally in 2013. Between 20 and 50 million more people suffer non-fatal injuries, with many incurring a disability as a result of their injury. It is right on the cusp of becoming the leading cause of death, globally.

Though it doesn't feel like it – we don't have any evolutionary hardwiring to tell us to be afraid – driving is the most dangerous activity in modern life. By far. Here's how to survive your drive.

  1. Don't drive after drinking. Alcohol-impaired drivers are involved in 1 in 3 crash deaths, causing 11,000 (US) deaths in 2009.
    • Don't try to work out if you're sober enough to drive.
    • Don't ever ride with someone who's been drinking. Be rude. Call a cab.
  2. Don't speed. Speeding is a factor in one third of road deaths. Arrive alive.
  3. Wear your seatbelt – in any seat, in any vehicle (including cabs). Nearly half of all people who get dead driving weren't wearing theirs.
  4. Don't drive distracted. In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction, and 448,000 injured.
    • Turn off your phone. If you leave it on, don't answer it. If you call someone and they are driving, hang up. See video →
    • Don't eat, put on make-up, chat, or fiddle with the radio. Again, you are doing the most dangerous thing in life, so you should probably focus on it. And it is not just you who are in danger, but also your passengers – plus all the daughters, sons, wives, and husbands sharing the road with you.
    • Did we mention car crashes are the number one cause of death of teenaged girls? See video →
    • Put your hands on the steering wheel. Driving with one finger works great – until something unexpected happens. And when does anything unexpected ever happen on the road? Ask the 1.25 million people who are now dead because of crashes last year alone.
  5. Don't assume the other guy won't kill you. Be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, unsignaled turns, swerving, and tailgating – all of which will kill you just as dead as your own error. Know what's happening on the sides of your car, behind, and down the road.
    • The two main ways faultless drivers get killed are:
      • A head-on collision when an oncoming driver swerves into your lane. Stay on partitioned roads whenever possible. (This is why they are statistically much safer.) When on unpartitioned roads, don't assume oncoming cars will stay on their side.
      • A side-on collision when someone at a cross street totally misses a stop sign or red light, and comes through at full speed. (75,000 crashes a year and rising – due to the increase in distracted driving caused by texting.) Try to look both ways, even when you have the right of way.
  6. Don't drive drowsy, especially when alone. Don't try to push on through. Dozing off is insidious. And crashes caused by falling asleep at the wheel have the highest fatality rate of any kind of auto accident, because when you fall asleep your leg muscles relax and gravity pulls your foot straight down to the floor, taking the gas pedal along with it!
  7. Slow down at night. Fatal crashes are three times as common at night. Slow down and increase following distance. Be extra careful on hills and curves.
  8. Be extra careful in bad weather. Slow down and increase following distance. Be extra careful on hills and curves.
  9. Don't tailgate. Leave a safe following distance, and give yourself time to react. You won't get there one second sooner tailgating; and much later if you have a wreck. You are also threatening the person ahead of you with lifelong back and neck pain. Again, for zero benefit. Tailgating may be one of the worst, stupidest, and most selfish acts in the world.
  10. Drive the newest car you can afford. Life-saving features – such as multiple air bags, crumple zones, anti-lock brakes, and electronic stability control – are more common in newer cars.
  11. Don't drive aggressively, which also increases accident risk. Try to have some perspective: you're not dead, in a wheelchair, or facially disfigured – what do you have to be upset about? Take a deep breath. It's Christmas.
  12. Be especially careful on rural state roads, where death rates are much higher.
  13. Maintain your vehicle.
    • Check your tire pressure. Blowouts are seriously lethal.
    • Don't ignore soft or vibrating brakes. You're going to need your brakes.
  14. Always signal/indicate for turns. It's not optional.
  15. Watch out for bikers, cyclists, and pedestrians. This won't save your life, but you'll enjoy Christmas a lot more if you haven't accidentally killed someone else. (Thousands won't be so lucky.)

Best wishes for a lovely, happy, joyful, peaceful, safe holiday.

A nice gentleman from Verizon contacted me with regard to this, and I'm very pleased to add a link to their Don't Text and Drive campaign. They even provide an app that will field your texts and calls for you while driving. Good stuff.

  danger     driving     take-aways  
close photo of Michael Stephen Fuchs

Fuchs is the author of the novels The Manuscript and Pandora's Sisters, both published worldwide by Macmillan in hardback, paperback and all e-book formats (and in translation); the D-Boys series of high-tech, high-concept, spec-ops military adventure novels – D-Boys, Counter-Assault, and Close Quarters Battle (coming in 2016); and is co-author, with Glynn James, of the bestselling Arisen series of special-operations military ZA novels. The second nicest thing anyone has ever said about his work was: "Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of 'when in doubt put in a firefight'." (Kirkus Reviews, more here.)

Fuchs was born in New York; schooled in Virginia (UVa); and later emigrated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he lived through the dot-com boom. Subsequently he decamped for an extended period of tramping before finally rocking up in London, where he now makes his home. He does a lot of travel blogging, most recently of some very  long  walks around the British Isles. He's been writing and developing for the web since 1994 and shows no particularly hopeful signs of stopping.

You can reach him on .

THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
PANDORA'S SISTERS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
D-BOYS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
COUNTER-ASSAULT by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book One - Fortress Britain, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Two - Mogadishu of the Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Genesis, by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Three - Three Parts Dead, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Four - Maximum Violence, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Five - EXODUS, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN Book Six - The Horizon, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Seven - Death of Empires, by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eight - Empire of the Dead by Glynn James & Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : NEMESIS by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Nine - Cataclysm by Michael Stephen Fuchs

ARISEN, Book Ten - The Flood by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Eleven - Deathmatch by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Twelve - Carnage by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Thirteen - The Siege by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN, Book Fourteen - Endgame by Michael Stephen Fuchs
ARISEN : Fickisms
ARISEN : Odyssey
ARISEN : Last Stand
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 1 - The Collapse
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 2 - Tribes
Black Squadron
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 3 - Dead Men Walking
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 4 - Duty
ARISEN : Raiders, Volume 5 - The Last Raid
ARISEN : Fickisms ][ – This Time, It's Personal
ARISEN : Operators, Volume I - The Fall of the Third Temple
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