It’s 2014—Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?
It’s 2014—Are you going to be driving?
It’s 2014—What are you going to do differently to save lives?
Time for a Change
It is a new year with new possibilities and exciting challenges. During this time, many of us reflect on where we are in our lives, and what we can do to improve our lives. For many, the New Year is a time of resolutions and individual efforts for self-improvement. However, self–improvement should not be limited to our health. Did you know that:
A 5% cut in average speed can result in a 30% reduction in the number of fatal crashes.
- Not drinking and driving significantly reduces the risk of a traffic crash.
- Wearing a motorcycle helmet correctly can result in a 40% reduction to risk of death and 70% reduction of a serious injury.
- Wearing seat belts reduces the risk of a fatal injury by 50% for the front seat occupants and up to 75% for the rear seat passengers.
- Child restraints reduce the likelihood of a fatal crash 70% for infants and 54%-80% for young children.
What could be more about self-improvement than taking action to be a safer driver?
Many countries have strong national laws covering these specific issues, but the vast majority of countries acknowledge that more has to be done to enforce them. For a societal change, it takes awareness, understanding AND enforcement. Yet knowledge IS power, and each of us can make a difference; a difference in our own lives, and in the lives of those around us.
It is More than a “Resolution”
Making a “resolution” is rarely sufficient. Change is difficult. We all tend to forget the last time we tried to change something in our lives—such as losing weight, or regularly exercising or quitting smoking—and failed. Did you know that it typically takes 10 years—the same resolution made for 10 years—before we are able to make it last? Did you know that “25% of people abandon their New Year’s resolution after one week? 60% do so within 6 months.”
When trying to make a change there are a few actions that can help with the follow through. First, write your goals/resolutions down on paper. Do more than thinking about them, or saying them. It is important to write them down. It gives your goals prominence. What is even better? Write them down on several pieces of paper. Then post them in different locations where you are sure to see them on a daily basis.
Be sure the goals you set are very specific and measureable. For example:
- Whenever I am driving, I will not text
- Whenever I am in the car I will always wear a seat belt, or
- Whenever I am driving, I will not move the car until all passengers have their seat belts properly fastened.
These are very specific and easy to determine if you are being successful. As you continue taking action for these goals, it becomes more of a habit.
Finally, let people know that you have that goal, and why you are doing it. Sharing the message will allow you to get support from friends and family, as well as encourage them to follow your example.
Time to Take Action
During this New Year, resolve to take a new direction in your life. Take this time to understand the importance of your actions. Recognize that each of us plays a role in saving lives. Use your expanding awareness, set some goals, and implement new behaviors to be a safer driver.
In this time of reflection of years past and contemplation of dreams to come, I wish you a very safe and joyous journey wherever life’s road takes you.
Let me know in the comments below what changes you are implementing in your life for traffic safety.
 Infographics on Global Road Safety 2013. World Health Organization. Found at: http://www.who.int/violence_injury_prevention/road_safety_status/2013/facts/en/index.html
 The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working p. 49. Schwartz, Tony. 2010