June 2012 National Safety Month Tips
Driving Safety June 24-30th, 2012
Driving is one of the most dangerous activities you will do each day. As traffic on the roads increases during the summer months, keep in mind the safety tips below to stay safe when driving for work or pleasure.
Cell Phone Distracted Driving
Cell phone use while driving isn’t just a visual and manual distraction, but a cognitive distraction – taking your mind off the primary task of driving. That is why hands-free devices offer no safety benefit as your brain is distracted by the conversation. When driving:
• Refrain from using your cell phone
• Put your cell phone on silent or in the glove box to avoid temptation
• Safely pull over and put the vehicle in Park to take or make a call
• Change your voicemail message to say you are unavailable when driving
Safety Belt Use
Safety belts are one of the most effective safety devices in your vehicle. Safety belts can determine who will walk away from a crash and who will not.
• Always wear a safety belt – every trip, every time
• Make sure every passenger is wearing his or her safety belt before you begin your drive
• Children should sit in the back and use the proper child safety seat or booster seat
Impaired driving simply means a person’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle is compromised by alcohol and other drugs that change the function of the brain and body.
• If you plan on drinking, designate a non-drinking driver for the evening
• Never get in the car with an intoxicated driver – take keys away from someone who has been drinking
• If you have been drinking and need to get home, call a friend or taxi or take public transportation
Aggressive driving behaviors can include speeding, frequent and unnecessary lane changes, tailgating and running red or yellow lights. These behaviors create unsafe situations and can lead to road rage. To avoid aggressive driving:
• Keep your emotions in check and don’t take frustrations out on other drivers
• Plan ahead and allow enough time for delays
• Focus on your own driving
• Don’t tailgate or flash your lights at another driver
• Use your horn sparingly
Daily Tips this week:
June 25: If you plan on drinking, designate a non-drinking driver for the evening.
June 26: Put your cell phone on silent or out of reach to avoid the temptation of distraction while driving.
June 27: Always wear your safety belt and make sure passengers are buckled up as well.
June 28: Avoid aggressive driving by keeping your emotions in check and planning ahead to allow enough time for delays.
June 29: Abide by speed limit signs and adjust for the driving conditions, such as inclement weather.
Driving Safety Quiz
1. What behavior can help to avoid impaired driving?
A. Getting in the car with an intoxicated driver
B. Designating a non-drinking driver
C. Only driving after you feel like you’ve “sobered up”
D. Driving home quickly after drinking
2. What behavior signals aggressive driving?
A. Frequent and unnecessary lane changes
B. Driving the posted speed limit
C. Focusing on your own driving
D. Keeping your emotions in check
3. Drivers who buckle up are more likely to avoid serious injuries in a crash by what percentage?
4. What type of distraction is caused when using a cell phone while driving?
A. Visual distraction
B. Cognitive distraction
C. Manual distraction
D. All of the above
5. Using a hands-free device makes driving while using a cell phone safe.
Other basic Driving Safety Tips:
Beyond acquiring basic car control skills -- and exercising good judgment behind the wheel -- there are a few basic rules for safe driving that everyone should know -- and follow:
Don't tailgate: Crowding the car ahead of you makes it more likely you'll smash into it if the driver should suddenly brake. Modern safety devices such as anti-lock brakes and traction control don't trump physics.
Obey the three second rule: Every driver should know and heed the three second rule: When the vehicle ahead of you passes a fixed object (such as a tree or telephone pole) slowly count "one thousand, two one thousand, and three one thousand." If you reach the object before completing the count, you're following too closely. Double your following distance (to six seconds) in poor weather.
Use turn signals: Failing to signal your intentions to other motorists is always dangerous -- as well as not courteous. Other motorists are not psychic; they can't guess that you are planning on making a right turn -- or about to move into the next lane. Signaling is especially important for the safety of motorcyclists, bicyclists and pedestrians, too. If they are in your blind spot and you just assume no one's there and execute a maneuver without signaling first, these folks will get no advance warning -- and will suffer the most if you strike them.
Don't impede the flow of traffic: Driving too slowly can be more dangerous than driving a little faster than the posted limit. In a high-density situation, with many others vehicles sharing the road, a dawdler creates what amounts to a rolling roadblock. Traffic snarls; motorists jockey for position -- the smooth flow of cars is interrupted. Try to drive with the flow of traffic -- and if the car behind you clearly wishes to go faster, the best thing to do is let it get by, whether you are "doing the limit" already or not. The other driver may have an emergency you are unaware of -- and in any event, it is simply safer and more courteous to yield to faster-moving traffic. Leave enforcement of speed limits to the police.
Maintain appropriate speed: Speed, as such, doesn't kill. If it did, airliners traveling at 500 mph would have the highest accident/fatality rates of any form of transportation. But air travel is in fact much safer than driving -- and few cars travel at 500 mph. The problem is inappropriate speed. For example, while it may be perfectly legal to drive 65 mph on the highway, if you don't slow down when it's raining heavily (or snowing) and your visibility as well as your car's stopping ability are reduced -- you increase your chances of having an accident. Similarly, if you are driving an unfamiliar road, especially a country road with many blind curves, you may not be able to negotiate the road at the same speed a local might with equal safety. Use your judgment -- and adjust speed to match conditions and your comfort level.
Plan ahead/use your mirrors: Anticipate the need to brake or make lane changes, etc. by constantly scanning your driving environment and watching the actions of other drivers, pedestrians and so on. This way, it's less likely you'll need to jam on the brakes -- or make sudden steering changes -- to avoid problems. The best drivers always maintain "situational awareness" -- where other cars are in relation to their vehicle, what's coming up ahead -- and what's happening on either side of them and behind them. Use your mirrors -- frequently.
Drive within your limits, the limits set by conditions and the limits of your vehicle: SUVs are not as equipped as sporty cars to travel safely at higher speeds -- and sporty cars tend to get skittish much more readily when it snows. Older vehicles lacking modern tires or traction/stability enhancers don't have the same built-in edge as late model cars with those features. You'll need more time to slow down safely; the older car will also go into a skid with less provocation than a newer car equipped with an electronic stability aid. Don't drive faster than you -- or your vehicle -- can drive safely, with ample "cushion" of time and space to make corrections and react to changing conditions and other motorists.
If you have the desire to become an even better driver -- and learn how to handle emergency situations such as panic braking and loss of vehicle control -- you may want to attend a defensive driving class. My next class will be July 12th at the Learning Center, please contact me. The tips you learn can heightened ability behind the wheel that could save your life down the road.
Remember, we all share the roads so take the necessary steps to keep yourself and others safe. Safety First, Safety Always!
Information from NSC