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As I traveled into work today, I was reminded about how vigilant we need to be when we drive. I saw a car veering in and out of traffic at speeds of about ninety miles per hour. The driver had both hands on a cell phone rather than the steering wheel. Unfortunately, shortly after zipping by me and further up the roadway, this motorist had to be extricated from his car by the city fire department and flown to a hospital by an air evacuation team. He was involved in a serious car accident and I am not sure whether this person lived. Many of my entries on this web site relate to corporate accountability. Today, my entry relates to personal responsibility. We can do some simple things to minimize the risk of harm when we drive. If we demand corporate responsibility and accountability, we should try to minimize the risk of injuries to ourselves as well. Personal responsibility and accountability does not excuse the lack of corporate accountability for safety. However, personal responsibility plays a role in our system of civil justice. So next time you are driving, remember some simple safety tips. Remember to wear your seatbelt and drive defensively. Also, don’t talk on the phone and drive at the same time; use a hands-free device if you absolutely must use the phone. We should take these simple precautions and prioritize safety when we drive. At the same time, we should demand that automobile manufacturers make complex safety design and crash avoidance systems a number one priority.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, last year, traffic accidents were the largest cause of death for people aged between four and thirty-four. More than 43,000 people died on our nation’s roadways in 2005. Research by this organization concerning motor vehicle accidents also suggests that:

Driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes, according to a landmark research report released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI). Nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event. Primary causes of driver inattention are distracting activities, such as cell phone use, and drowsiness.

If we prioritize safety and demand that auto manufacturers design crashworthy vehicles that adopt breakthroughs in crash avoidance technology design, these fatality statistics will drop and we will see a shining example of a successful safety partnership between corporations and consumers. I look forward to the day when auto manufacturers adopt new safety engineering technology to make our vehicles safer and consumers do their best to pay attention to the roadway and drive safely.

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