Some Safe Driving & Biking Tips to Help Keep You & Your Family Safe!
No matter how hard we all work to stay young and healthy, unfortunately, we have no control over other drivers: those rule breakers who share the roads with us.
WE CAN WORK TOGETHER TO MAKE OUR ROADS A SAFER PLACE FOR ALL OF US.
How can you protect yourself and your family from the dangers of sharing the road with other drivers? Here are a few safety tips:
1. Put Down the Cell Phone. Pay Attention to Your Driving. In the U.S., in 2011, 387,000 people were injured and 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver. Distracted driving includes texting, using a cell phone, grooming, watching videos, adjusting audio, etc.
Texting is by far the worst of the dangers because it requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver. Texting increases your crash risk 6 times. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, which is the equivalent—at 55 mph—of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. Driving while simply talking on a cell phone is as dangerous as driving drunk. It reduces the amount of brain activity associated with driving by 37% and increases your risk of a crash by 4 times. (DISTRACTION.GOV, official US Government Website for Distracted Driving)
2. Slow Down. Many crashes are caused by speeding. Speed is the leading unsafe driving behavior that contributes to deaths. For every 10 MPH over 50 MPH, the risk of death in a crash is doubled. (Utah 2011 Crash Summary) Car crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 3 and 34. Slow down. Life already is too short. Let’s not make it shorter for you or anyone else by speeding.
3. Keep a Safe Distance Between You and the Car in Front. Many crashes are caused by following too closely. (Utah 2011 Crash Summary) The recommended MINIMUM following distance, during dry weather conditions, is to remain at least 2 seconds behind the car in head of you. When visibility is low such as light fog, light rain or nighttime driving, you should double the following distance to a minimum of 4 seconds. When driving in bad conditions, such as snow or heavy rain, you should increase your safe following distance to between 6 and 10 seconds. DON’T TAILGATE.
4. Wear Your Seatbelt. Unrestrained occupants in a crash are substantially more likely to die in a crash than restrained occupants. In 2011, 102 lives were saved in Utah because of restraint use. An estimated 41 additional lives would have been saved if everyone had been wearing seat belts. (Utah 2011 Crash Summary)
Protect your children by placing them in a proper restraint device. The recommendations are: Infants should be placed in a rear-facing safety seat until they are at least 20 pounds and 1 year of age. Never place a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with a passenger side air bag. Children at least 1 year of age weighing 20-40 pounds should ride in forward facing child safety seats. Older children (approximately 4-8 years of age) should ride in belt position booster seats until they are 4’9” tall and the seat belt fits properly. The safest place for any child aged 12 and under is in the back seat of the car. (Utah 2011 Crash Summary) Remember: Utah law requires all motor vehicle occupants to wear a seat belt.
5. Never Drink & Drive. In 2011, 32,367 people in the U.S. were killed in car crashes. Of this number, or 31%, were due to drunk driving. (U.S. Department of Transportation, Traffic Safety Facts for 2011) If you plan to drink, be sure to have a designated driver. If you have been drinking, ask a sober friend to drive or call a friend or a cab for a ride. If that fails, please look for a driver through the National Directory of Designated Driver Services, DrinkingAndDriving.Org.
6. If You’re Tired, Pull Over. If you’re driving and feel the least bit tired, stop. Many high-speed, single vehicle rollover crashes occur when a driver becomes drowsy, drifts to the side of the road, hits the rumble strip and then jolts the steering wheel causing the car to roll.
7. Use Extra Caution in Bad Weather. There is an old saying, “If the roads are wet, then drive like it’s snowing. If the roads are snow-covered, then drive like they’re icy. If the roads are icy, then don’t drive.” You should slow down at the first sign of rain, snow or sleet because these make the roadway slippery. Always reduce your speed in bad weather.
8. Watch Out for Rule Breakers. Even if you’re driving carefully and obeying all the rules of the road, many others are not. Because so many people chose to ignore the rules for safe driving, you must be prepared to respond to their stupidity. You must be prepared to respond to sudden stops, unpredictable lane changes, unsignaled turns, tailgating, someone running a red light, etc. You should always look beyond the car in front of you to see what is ahead. When driving, please keep yourself, your family and other’s safe by keeping 100% of your attention focused on your driving.
9. Be a Safe Driver. Before getting into your car, do a quick check of your surroundings to make certain there are no children in harm’s way. Check your car and tires regularly. Before you put your car into drive, properly adjust the driver’s seat, steering wheel, seat belts, head restraints, rear and side-view mirrors and climate controls. Drive with your headlights on to increase visibility. Use your turn signals. When a light turns green, look left, then right, straight ahead and then left again before proceeding through the intersection. Obey all speed limits and signs.
In Nevada, a bicyclist was hit by a car about every 15 hours in 2010. On average, 6 bicyclists are killed in Nevada every year. The majority of bicycle accidents occur while entering or crossing roadways.
Here are a few safety tips for our bicyclists:
1. Inspect Your Bike. Before riding, make sure all parts are secure and working properly. Check your tires and brakes.
2. Always Wear a Helmet. Protect your brain and your life by always wearing a properly fitted helmet.
3. Go With the Traffic Flow. Ride on the right in the same direction as other vehicles. Go with the flow, not against it.
4. Obey all Traffic Laws. A bicycle is a vehicle and must be operated like one. When you ride in the street, follow the rules of the road by obeying all traffic signs, signals and lane markings.
5. Stay Alert. Use your eyes and ears. Watch for drivers who are not paying attention. Watch out for potholes, cracks, debris or anything that could make you lose control of your bike. Don’t assume that because you are in a cross-walk you are safe. You must assume that other drivers may not see you and act accordingly. Don’t wear your earphones while riding your bike. You will not be able to hear what is going on around you.
6. Control Your Bicycle. Always ride with at least one hand on the handlebars.
7. See and Be Seen. You must be seen by others. Always wear neon, fluorescent, or other bright colors when riding day or night. If you have to ride at night, make sure you have a front and back light and reflectors on the front and rear of your bicycle.