At some point in the day, the majority of Americans will pick up a set of keys and head out on the road. It’s a daily routine for more than 220 million drivers in the U.S. alone.

But driving is no mundane task. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 37,000 deaths occur each year from crashes on U.S. highways. Only cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and a pandemic in 2020 cause more unintentional deaths among the general population.

In "Survive the Drive," Tom Dingus, one of the foremost authorities on driving safety, describes how to reduce the risk of accidents while on the road. Dingus, director of the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI), distills decades of transportation safety research, facts, figures, reports, and new cutting-edge research — along with personal anecdotes from his own time behind the wheel — into a uniquely authoritative and entertaining guide for drivers of all ages and types, including adult drivers, teen drivers, senior drivers, professional/truck drivers, and motorcyclists.

The first edition of "Survive the Drive" was published in 2015. The second edition, by Dingus and project associate Mindy Buchanan-King, is available from Virginia Tech Publishing, based in the University Libraries, as a free digital eBook and as an affordable paperback

“Our goal in publishing a second edition of "Survive the Drive" is to get new and critical information about driver risks out to the public. Every chapter has been revised and updated, incorporating the latest research, including, for instance, on the risks of cognitive distraction,” said Dingus. “This is a book about the biggest cause of accidental injury, death, and disability in the U.S. and how to reduce everyone’s risk by following simple rules. This could save thousands of lives and tens of thousands of serious injuries. Having it available for free to the public through Virginia Tech Publishing will, I hope, greatly increase readership and thereby help achieve those goals.”

Peter Potter, publishing director in the University Libraries, said that publishing the work of Virginia Tech faculty, students, and staff and making it freely available to the public adds to Virginia Tech’s societal impact.

“Unlike traditional university presses, which mostly publish work by scholars from other institutions, we focus on research produced right here at Virginia Tech,” said Potter.  “VTTI is one of the leading transportation research institutes in the U.S., so it makes sense that we would collaborate with Tom Dingus and Mindy Buchanan-King to publish "Survive the Drive," a book that takes the high-level research conducted at VTTI and translates it into a practical guide for general readers. We see it as a natural extension of Virginia Tech as a land grant institution.” 

The second edition of "Survive the Drive" incorporates the latest research and data from VTTI including findings from the largest naturalistic driving study ever conducted, the Second Strategic Highway Research Program Naturalistic Driving Study, which was led by VTTI and its partners and sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences. In this study video cameras and other sensors were placed in the cars of more than 3,500 volunteer drivers for up to two years each, resulting in more than 35 million miles of continuous driving data.

Armed with this data, Dingus assesses the risk that drivers face in virtually every situation, such as texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, picking a vehicle with near-zero crashworthiness, not wearing a seat belt or motorcycle helmet, driving while tired or angry, or driving after one or two drinks. 

Dingus and his team of researchers and engineers pioneered the naturalistic driving study research method and are working to ensure the safe development and deployment of the next generation of motor vehicle technology. 

“Our collective work at VTTI has saved countless lives over the last 25 years. We work with over 100 sponsors including 14 car companies to develop, test, and improve safety systems,” said Dingus. “Every safety system in cars today, from backup cameras to restraint systems to automated emergency braking and other automation systems have been a part of this process.”

Written by Peter Potter and Ann Brown