The Doctors Investigate: Dangerous Driving

Playing Drs. Investigate: Are You a Dangerous Driver?

It’s estimated that 2 out of 3 drivers will get in an accident in their lifetime. Senior investigative reporter Leslie Marcus hits the road to find what’s driving risky behaviors behind the wheel. Is there anything we can do to improve our safety?

Leslie met up with Senior Biomechanist GTD Engineering Geoff Desmoulin and before they took off, he showed Leslie some safety tips that can be done in the parking lot. He shares that you want a 90-degree angle in your ankle and a slight bend in your knee when sitting in the driver’s seat. Your wrist should be able to rest on the steering wheel.

To adjust your driver’s side view mirror, lean your head up against the driver’s side window and adjust so you can just see the top edge of your vehicle. Also, make sure to center your rearview mirror.

Geoff and Leslie ride around Los Angeles and observe some horrible driving behavior. Tailgating, passing on the right… it’s dangerous out there! Geoff points out that at 60mph it can take over 300 feet (over the length of a football field) to completely stop your vehicle so it’s important to avoid traveling so close to the car in front of you.

Leslie joins The Doctors to share with them more insight on driving. On her ride with Geoff they saw a striking number of speeders on the road. She says that between 2004 – 2015, 30% of collision deaths were caused by speeding. It is a common misconception that you can get to your destination a lot faster by speeding. Leslie found online speed calculators which demonstrate her point. For example:

  • Starting speed: 65mph
  • Increase speed: 85mph
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Time saved: 2 minutes

It’s not worth risking your life or the lives of others for a few minutes!

Leslie also demonstrates that holding the steering wheel at 9 and 3, as opposed to the old way of thinking at 10 and 2, is a safer position during crashes. Additionally, do not wrap your thumbs around the wheel. 

Geoff told Leslie one of the worst things you can do is drive behind a bus or a truck where you can’t see in front of you. She says we want to be a “psychic driver”, someone who scans at least a half mile in front for hazards.

When are you most likely to get in an accident? Leslie says that after a close call, immediately after, you are three times as likely. Ultimate Performance Specialist Dr. Joseph McClendon III explains that after avoiding an accident we have decreased cognition because we are paying attention to what almost happened, not to what is going on in front of us.

Dr. McClendon adds that the emotional state of a driver has more of an impact on accidents than outside influence. He shares the top three emotions that affect drivers are anger, anxiety and sadness.

Music too plays a role in our driving abilities. A study from London Metropolitan University found that people tend to drive to the tempo of the music they are listening to. Women, in general, tend to be more aggressive while listening to hip-hop while for men, it’s heavy metal. Conversely, calmer music like classical can make drivers subdued and have a slower response time. Dr. McClendon says we want to listen to music that mimics the human heart rate and suggests the sounds of musicians like Elton John or Norah Jones.

Psychiatrist Dr. Domenick Sportelli shares that people with ADHD are actually 3 to 5 times more likely to be involved in a car accident.

Watch: Man Blames DUI on Car's Self-Driving Feature

Leslie says that all the new safety technology in cars has contributed to a 20% decrease in collisions. However, most of the cars in this country are more than 11 years old. Luckily, there are several items that you can buy aftermarket for $50 or less to increase safety including:

  • Bluetooth devices – use this to go handsfree
  • Heads-up display – a hologram on the windshield that shows speed and directions
  • Dash cam – cameras that can record unexpected situations on the road as well as alert the driver when too close
  • Blind spot mirror – blind spots attribute to 840,000 accidents per year and for only $10 you can hook this mini mirror onto the side view mirror
  • License plate frame that doubles as a backup camera – this can eliminate not seeing kids or others behind your car while backing up