Walk This Way

Pedestrian Safety

According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2014 a pedestrian was killed every 2 hours and injured every 8 minutes on average in U.S. traffic crashes.

While the number of total traffic fatalities has decreased over the last 10 years, the percentage of pedestrian traffic fatalities has increased.  In 2005, Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) reported 43,510 total traffic fatalities, 11% (4,892) of which were pedestrian fatalities.  In 2014, FARS reported 32,675 total traffic fatalities, 15% (4,884) of which were pedestrian deaths.

The rise in percentage of pedestrian deaths may be partly due to improvements to vehicle occupant protection and safety features.  While safer vehicles improve a passenger’s survival rate in a crash, a pedestrian still has no defense if struck by a vehicle.

Another pedestrian safety concern: distracted walking.  A Pew Research Center survey found that 53% of adult cellphone owners either had bumped into a person/object while using their phone or had been bumped into by another person distracted by their cellphone.  Distracted walking on or near a roadway can spell disaster.

Important Safety Reminders for Pedestrians:

  • Walk on a sidewalk or path when one is available.
  • If no sidewalk or path is available, walk on the shoulder, facing traffic. Stay alert; don’t be distracted by electronic devices, including smart phones, MP3 players, and other devices that take your eyes (and ears) off the road.
  • Be cautious night and day when sharing the road with vehicles. Never assume a driver sees you (he or she could be distracted, under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or just not see you). Make eye contact with drivers as they approach.
  • Be predictable. Cross streets at crosswalks or intersections when possible. This is where drivers expect pedestrians.
  • If a crosswalk or intersection is not available, locate a well-lit area, wait for a gap in traffic that allows you enough time to cross safely, and continue to watch for traffic as you cross.
  • Be visible. Wear bright clothing during the day, and wear reflective materials or use a flash light at night.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs when walking; they impair your judgment and coordination.

Source: NHTSA’s Safety Countermeasures Division

New Phone Restrictions While Driving

No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.

Today’s Three Seconds: California AB 1785 Effective Jan. 1, 2017

navigation-13 Second StopBeginning today, the rules as to how drivers can use a smartphone and other handheld devices just got a whole lot stricter. Besides not being able to write or read texts by hand, it is now illegal to “hold and operate” a handheld wireless telephone or electronic communications device for any reason while driving. Bottom line: If a driver in CA still wants to use a phone while driving, they can’t be holding it in-hand. Now the device must be mounted or affixed to the vehicle’s windshield, dashboard or center console without obstructing the view of the road, and the driver may only use a single swipe or tap of the finger to operate a function or feature on the device.

Note: This new law does not apply to manufacturer-installed systems that are embedded in a vehicle.

Learn more at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/.

Keep Them Safe

Child Passenger Restraints

rear-facing-child-seatJanuary 1st, 2017 ushers in new laws and regulations. In California one new law affecting motorist and parents will require child passengers under the age of two to be secured in rear-facing child safety seats.

Transporting children in age- and size-appropriate car seats, booster seats, or seat belts is key to keeping kids safe on the road. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), child safety seats lower the risk of fatal injury for infants (under 1 year old) by 71% and by 54% for toddlers (1 to 4 years old) in passenger cars.

NHTSA recommends using a Rear-Facing Car Seat for as long as possible: age 0 to 3 years or once your child outgrows the rear-facing car seat. Rear-facing seats are the safest way to transport a child as in a crash the impact force is more evenly distributed along the outer shell of the seat, keeping the child’s neck and spine in line.

Be sure to read the instruction manual for your child safety seat as well as your vehicle owner’s manual on car seat installation. Check height and weight limits of the car seat and never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an active airbag.

Thanksgiving 2016

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Quick Tips for Holiday Travels

AAA estimates there will be 48.7 million travelers this Thanksgiving holiday weekend starting today, November 23, 2016 through Sunday, November 27, 2016. For those of you traveling on highways and byways, here are a few helpful safety reminders.

Before you leave:

  • Check your tires are properly inflated and that your tire tread is healthy (no bald spots).
  • Be sure to pack an emergency kit: a flashlight, blankets, jumper cables, a first aid kit, drinking water, non-perishable snacks, and a cell phone.
  • Buckle up. Make sure you and all your passengers are properly secured in an approved and appropriate seat belt and/or child passenger restraint system.

On the road:

  • Obey the posted limit signs. Speed limits are set for your safety. Also, you’ll save a little money with better gas mileage.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes. Remember, frequently changing lanes to pass other vehicles increases your risk of having a collision. If you do pass, remember to pass on the left and look for the other vehicle’s headlights in your rearview mirror before you return to your lane. For large trucks you want to see the cab of the truck in your rearview mirror before going back into the lane.
  • No drinking and driving. If you have been drinking alcohol, don’t drive. If you plan on drinking, set up a designated driver before you start.

Have a Happy and Safe Holiday Season!

Parental Influence

2016 Teen Driver Safety Campaign

Speak with your teen about making good driving decisions.

For those of you that have young drivers at home, National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 16 – 22) is a good reminder to sit down with your teen and go over the “5 to Drive” risky driving behaviors to avoid.

  1. NO CELL PHONES: Dialing a phone while driving increases your teen’s risk of crashing by six times, and texting while driving increases the risk by 23 times.
  2. NO EXTRA PASSENGERS: Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car.
  3. NO SPEEDING: In 2014, speeding was a factor for 30% of the teen drivers involved in fatal crashes.
  4. NO ALCOHOL: 20% of 15- to 19-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2014 had been drinking.
  5. ALWAYS BUCKLE-UP: In 2014, 53% of teens 15-19 years old killed in passenger vehicle crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

Source: NHTSA and safercar.gov

Handling Dangerous Situations

No time to read a long-winded BLOnG? Welcome to the Three-Second-Stop mini-Blog.

Today’s Three Seconds: Driving Off of the Pavement

3 Second StopIf you ever find yourself in a situation where your wheels go off the pavement onto a soft shoulder, remain calm and follow these simple steps:

  • Hold the steering wheel firmly
  • Take your foot off the gas pedal
  • Gently apply your brakes
  • Check for traffic coming behind you
  • When the coast is clear, soothingly steer yourself back onto the road

Avoid slamming on the brakes and swerving back to your lane right away. There is a good chance that you will lose control of your car and end up hitting something or someone on the opposite side of the road.

Following Distance

Three-Second Rule

Allowing yourself proper following distance between your car and the car ahead of you can be difficult to visually estimate. A good way to gauge a suitable gap is to use the “Three-Second Rule.” Here’s how it works: when the car or truck in front of you crosses a certain fixed object on the side of the road (like a sign or tree), start counting, “one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” You should not cross that same point for three seconds. Under normal conditions it takes about 2-3 seconds to completely stop when traveling at speeds between 35 mph to 65 mph; so with a three-second space cushion, you should have enough time to react and brake when something happens up ahead.

Sometimes you may need to add additional space to the following distance calculation. Here are some scenarios where extra room is required and you should allow for a following distance of four or more seconds:

  • If the road or weather conditions are bad. For example, braking distance doubles on a wet road.
  • If you are being tailgated. If a driver is following too closely you should slow down and increase your following distance so that you will have more time to react if the car in front of you is forced to suddenly stop.
  • If you are towing a trailer or have additional weight in your vehicle. The added weight will increase your vehicle’s stopping distance.
  • If you are following a motorcycle. A motorcycle can stop quicker than a car. Give yourself extra space in front of your vehicle so you have adequate time to stop.
  • If your vision is blocked or visibility is poor. When your view ahead is blocked, for instance when you are behind an 18-wheeler or large van, you will have less of an idea of hazards further down the road. Leave yourself more space to increase your reaction time.

Seat Belts in America

How Do You Rate?

Seat belt use in the United States has been steadily rising since 2000. There has also been a consistent decrease in unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in the daytime.

The overall National average seat-belt use in 2015 was 88.5%. The Western States have the highest average with 95.0% and the Midwest has a ways to go coming in at 81.7%.

As you can image, States that have Primary Seat Belt laws (an officer can ticket you for the sole reason you are not wearing a seat-belt) have a higher rate of seat belt use as compared to States that have secondary enforcement laws (requires an officer to pull you over for another reason before you can receive a citation for not using your seat belt.)

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Report No. DOT HS 812 243

How Not to U-turn or: My $225 Lesson Learned

As a young driver, I was under the false impression that you could “whip a U-turn” whenever or wherever you wanted, as long as it seemed reasonably safe. Wrong. I found out the hard way when making a U-turn on a sharply-curved road. A cop pulled me over 5 seconds later and gave me a $225 education that I will never forget. The lesson learned? LEARN THE RULES OF THE ROAD!

Can't see clearly for 200ft?  Then U-turn elsewhere!

Click the image above to test your knowledge!

Next time you ‘need’ to make a U-turn, remember these helpful hints:

DO make U-turns here:

  • Anywhere on residential streets where you have a clear view for 200ft in both directions
  • On city streets (business districts), always go to an intersection to make your U-turn

DON’T make U-turn here:

  • In the middle of a city street
  • On any street that you can’t see clearly for 200ft in both directions
  • At an intersection with a “No U-turn” sign
  • In front of fire stations

National Work Zone Awareness 2016

April 11-15, 2016: Respect the Orange

The week of April 11-15, 2016, the Federal Highway Administration encourages, “Don’t Be THAT Driver!” This year’s National Work Zone Awareness theme focuses on a current road safety topic: distracted driving. Construction zones are dangerous enough without mixing in the added hazard of driving distractions. With so much confusion going on in a work zone, taking your eyes off the road, hands off the wheel and/or mind off of driving, even for a second, can lead to an unfortunate crash. Besides being aware of in-vehicle distractions also avoid the temptation to try and see what the road workers are doing. Remember to slow down to a safe speed, drive more cautiously and focus on the task at hand.