4Avoiding Crashes

Avoiding Crashes

Avoiding Crashes

Avoiding Crashes

Every year there are over 10 million motor vehicle crashes in the United States. Along with the physical and emotional trauma, imagine the environmental impact of that!

There is a strong link between motor vehicle crashes and climate change -- behaviors that lead to crashes and the crashes themselves are bad for the environment. Crashes are often related to speeding and other aggressive driving behaviors that increase emissions and add greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere.

Bad for the Environment

Crashes and injuries also take a direct toll on the environment. Along with congestion, crashes can damage road infrastructure and result in vehicles needing to be repaired or replaced. People who are injured can consume extensive medical resources as well as trips to the doctor, sometimes for decades following a crash.

Here are some ways that crashes are bad for the environment. You can probably think of others.

The Crash

  • Traffic congestion and idling -- It’s hard to overstate this one
  • “Secondary” crashes from rubbernecking to see the original crash
  • Emergency response -- police, fire, ambulance, and tow trucks… A large portion of police, fire, and ambulance work is related to traffic crashes. One could factor in facilities to house police, fire, and ambulance crews.
  • Supplies of police, fire, and ambulance units
  • Road infrastructure repairs... damaged road signs, guardrails, and concrete barriers.
  • Specially trained crash investigators driving or flying to the scene

Medical Care

  • Chronic injuries, such as traumatic brain injuries and spinal cord injuries often require a lifetime of care
  • Large portions of trauma centers and hospitals are devoted to crash victims
  • Large and complex hospital equipment (e.g., CT Scanners)
  • Radioactive and other hospital waste products
  • Medical supplies

Vehicle Replacement or Repair

  • Manufacturing of new replacement vehicles
  • Repairs and replacement of parts
  • Energy and emissions related to recycling

Eco-driving and Safety

Eco-driving and Safety

Eco-drivers are safe drivers. Eco-driving requires focus on the road and paying attention to other drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians, and many other factors.

Minimize distracting activities

A strong case can be made that you cannot be an effective eco-driver while talking on a phone or texting. Talking on a cell phone or texting involves taking your eyes and your mind off the road and slows reaction time.

Avoid aggressive driving

Driving aggressively to compete with other drivers or reach your destination faster is about as far from eco-driving as you can get. Smooth driving makes it easier for other drivers to know your intentions, and lower speeds help reduce crash severity, if a crash does occur.


  • Be reasonable and predictable
  • Don’t drive under the speed limit if it disrupts other drivers
  • Run an ego-check and avoid trying to teach other drivers how to eco-drive, at least not while you’re on the road and they’re in another car
  • It’s not all about you. Be a courteous and safe driver
  • Having enough air in your tires can be a big fuel saver and it makes you safer. Underinflated tires make braking and cornering more dangerous.
  • The back seat bullet: Secure loose objects and remove what you don’t need. In crashes, stuff in your car bounces around at high speeds and can injure or kill occupants.
  • Drivers who are overly focused on eco-driving may drive in ways that anger other drivers or disrupt traffic flow, and this can increase the risk of crashes.

Other Eco-driving Modules