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AAA: Resolve to Be Safer Behind the Wheel this Year

Help reduce traffic crashes and fatalities in 2022 with these tips and tools

AURORA, Ill., (January 3, 2022) – Illinois roadways saw an increase in fatalities for the third straight year in 2021. According to preliminary numbers from the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were over 1,300 lives lost in traffic crashes this past year – the most since 2005. AAA – The Auto Club Group urges drivers to make a few New Year's resolutions that will help keep them - and everyone else - safer on the road in 2022.

"New Year's is a time for reflection and commitment to better habits," said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA – The Auto Club Group. "Too many lives are being lost on our roads, and we all have a role to play in preventing these tragedies."

Slow down – Speeding makes it more difficult to avoid a collision by reducing your reaction time and increases the likelihood that a crash will cause injuries and fatalities – especially when it involves vulnerable roadway users like cyclists and pedestrians. Slowing down on the highway can also save you money, as your vehicle loses fuel efficiency the faster you go over 55 mph.

Avoid distractions – This includes not using "hands-free" systems, which can be just as cognitively distracting as manual controls and hand held devices. And don't let advanced safety features give you a false sense of security. Stay focused and engaged at all times behind the wheel.

Drive sober – Don't get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, using marijuana or taking medications that can cause impairment. Designate a driver or have a plan to get home safely whenever you go out. Be careful with cold and allergy medicines and prescription drugs, and keep in mind that cars count as "Heavy Machinery" when reading warning labels.

Get enough sleep – Missing just a 2-3 hours of sleep more than quadruples your risk for a crash, which is the statistical equivalent of driving impaired.

Buckle up – According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the state's safety belt usage rate is over 90%. But restrained or improperly restrained drivers and passengers make up nearly a quarter of all traffic fatalities. Safety belts and child safety seats dramatically reduce fatal injuries when they are consistently and properly utilized.

Share the road – Watch out for cyclists, pedestrians, and motorcycles, and slow down and move over whenever you see maintenance crews or emergency responders on the side of the road.

"Our surveys of drivers consistently show a gap between perceptions of danger and self-reported behavior when it comes to crash risks," continued Hart. "Ultimately, we need drivers to do what they know is the right thing."

Members can use the AAADriveTM feature in the AAA Mobile app to keep track of their progress on several of these resolutions. This tool uses your mobile device to monitor how often you are distracted by your phone while driving, your ability to manage speeds and anticipate hazards, and how long you drive without taking a break. You can challenge yourself to improve your score, and challenge your friends and family to see who the safest driver is. Parents can also use AAADrive to set parameters for teen drivers and minimize risk factors such as speed, time of day and geographic boundaries. Members who utilize this feature may be eligible for discount on their insurance through AAA.

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