The start of a new year usually ushers in a host of resolutions of self improvement and change from people around the globe. However, rarely among these changes is a proclamation to adopt safer driving habits, despite the fact that car crashes remain one of the leading causes of preventable death in this country.

In fact, the U.S. Department of Transportation reported that nearly 33,000 people died in car crashes in the U.S. in 2010, representing an average of 90 lives needlessly lost daily on roads across the country. In Arizona on average, two people lose their lives every day on our state's roads. Nearly 100 percent of all traffic deaths are preventable.

A recent survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety confirms that Americans desire a greater level of safety than they now experience on our roads. Yet, many admit that they are part of the problem. That's why AAA Arizona is challenging motorists to examine their driving habits and declare the following five safe driving resolutions for 2012:

1. Slow down. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), speed is a factor in one in three fatal crashes.

2. Ditch distractions. Any behavior that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road, hands off the wheel, and mind off the task at hand is considered a distraction. Texting requires all three of these things, making it the mother of all distractions.

3. Stop on red. According to the Red Means Stop Coalition, there are about 8,000 red light- and stop sign-related crashes each year across the state.

4. Buckle up. NHTSA reports that seatbelts save more than 13,000 lives each year. However, in order to be effective, this life saving device must be used each and every time a person drives or rides in a motor vehicle.

5. Move over. In 2011, Arizona's "Move Over" law was expanded to include tow trucks and stranded motorists displaying alternately flashing lights alongside freeways and highways. However, tragedies on Arizona roadways in recent months underscore the importance for motorists to remember to adhere to this law.

For more information on the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's 2011 Traffic Safety Culture Index, visit

• Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or

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