The most dangerous things you're doing behind the wheel

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
The most dangerous things you're doing behind the wheel
One trooper said driving is the most dangerous thing you'll do all day, so use these tips to avoid making an accident even more catastrophic

HOUSTON -- Most people have reclined the seat while taking a road trip, or put their feet on the dash, not realizing the little things done in a car can be catastrophic in an accident.

"Driving is the most dangerous thing you'll actually do every day," said trooper Stephen Woodard.

One Houston woman learned that the hard way.

"I've been on road trips my whole life, and I've always been told to wear my seatbelt so I thought I was safe," said Sue Rodriguez.

Rodriguez buckled up, reclined her seat, and fell asleep. On a road trip only 30 miles from home, a car slammed into hers. The seat belt ripped through her abdomen and left her in a coma for six weeks.

"It damaged my liver, my colon, my small and large intestines, broke my back in two places, my wrist and my elbow," Rodriguez said.

"I didn't get to live my 21st year that much. I didn't get to do the bikini thing and that stuff. I don't get to do that anymore. I have scars I have to explain. It changed a lot," Rodriguez said.

Another danger while riding in a car is putting feet on the dash.

"This is something we don't want to see. It could cause grave damage to the person's body once the air bag deploys and the air bag cannot protect the passenger in itself," Woodard said.

Other things that could prove deadly in an accident are loose objects.

"Projectiles can essentially act like bullets," Woodard said. "If an individual is going 60 miles an hour, that particular object or projectile can travel up to 120."

When it comes to driving late at night, troopers say try to avoid the left hand lane. That's where they see a lot of avoidable accidents.

"If there's an individual who's distracted or possibly intoxicated and stems off the road, they can come into that number one lane," Woodard said.

If you get pulled over, it is okay to drive to a well-lit area, clear of traffic for everyone's safety.

"The misconception that you need to pull over right now is simply not true," Woodard said.

Rodriguez says she now realizes her actions made a bad accident even worse.

"Let's just put it that way. If there was something that let me know that there was a possibility of something like this happening in my life I wouldn't have done it," Rodriguez said.