Terror on the Highway

Wrong Way Drivers

Having a driver who is driving right towards you at highway speeds is not only scary, but is also extremely dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in the US, wrong-way driving crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year on average, which represent about 1% of the total number of traffic related fatalities. Though the percentage is low, wrong-way crashes on divided highways are much more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries because they involve high speed, head-on collisions.

In a study, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that driving while impaired by alcohol is the primary cause of wrong-way driving collisions, with more than 60 percent of wrong-way collisions caused by drivers impaired by alcohol. They also found that wrong-way collisions occur most often at night and during the weekends, and they tend to take place in the lane closest to the median.

Tips for dealing with a wrong way driver start with defensive driving basics:

  • Always use your seat belts. A seat belt is the single most important safety equipment feature of your vehicle, but in order for safety belts to work, they must be worn properly and at all times while driving. A lap and shoulder belt worn properly increase your chances of surviving a collision by 3 to 4 times than if you are unrestrained.
  • Scan for hazards. Keep your eyes moving and remember to look further down the road. Scanning enables your eyes to take in the whole scene, enabling you to identify a hazard before it becomes a last-second crisis. You should also be constantly looking for an escape route or somewhere to go if you encounter a problem or hazard on the road.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by your cell phone, eating, drinking or even your kids. When you take focus off of driving, you increase the time it takes you to react to problems on the road, which will in turn increase your chances of getting into a collision.
  • At night, stay to the right side of the road, in the right lanes and avoid driving in the fast lane, or lane closed to the median, especially if your view is blocked by curves or hills.

If you do see a wrong way driver, then:

  • Reduce your speed and move to the right lane or shoulder as quickly as you can without losing control of your car. Once the wrong way driver has safely passed you, be sure to notify the authorities.
  • If you can’t move out of the wrong way driver’s path, avoid being hit head-on by turning your car sideways. Head on collisions have the highest fatality rate, so if you are going to get hit, it is better to be hit at an angle, if possible at or behind the rear wheels, than taking the full force of the crash head-on.

Changing Lanes

S.M.O.G. Technique

Many drivers have a problem with changing lanes safely. The S.M.O.G. technique is meant to help remind you of the steps to take when planning a lane change. S.M.O.G. simply means:

  • Signal: Indicate your intentions to let other drivers know you plan on making a move before you actually do it.
  • Mirror: Check your mirrors to make sure that there is no traffic approaching from the rear.
  • Over-the-shoulder: Glance over your shoulder to make sure your blind spot is clear.
  • Go: When you’ve determined the lane is clear, gradually change lanes remembering to maintain your speed so that you don’t interfere with the traffic already in the intended lane.

Don’t forget to look ahead to anticipate and avoid traffic hazards. Before changing lanes, check the direction of travel and watch out for traffic coming from the opposite direction.

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.

Save Gas… Check Your Tires

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

Today’s Three Seconds: Proper Tire Inflation

3 Second StopKeeping your tires properly inflated will save you money. The average vehicle will get three to four miles more per gallon when the tires are properly inflated. By checking the pressure of your tires regularly, about once a week, you’ll not only reduce the chances of a blowout, you’ll also save money at the gas pump. Proper tire maintenance is one easy way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cut your vehicle’s fuel consumption, and lower the risk of an accident, all at the same time. It’s simple, economical, environmentally friendly and smart.

Danger Zone

Road Work and You

Today marks the close of 2015 National Work Zone Awareness Week which advised drivers to “Expect the Unexpected”. Road worker safety is always good to have in the forefront of your mind, especially in the coming summer months as road construction will undoubtedly increase. The main thing to remember when you see orange (signs, cones, and vests) along the road is slow down and drive more cautiously. Keep your focus on navigating through the changing lanes, speeds and road conditions. The smallest distraction could be disastrous. Obey the posted construction signs and workers giving you instructions. And if safety for all is not a good enough motivator, remember almost all states have larger fines for speeding and other traffic infractions in a construction zone.

Railway Safety

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Crossing railways can be dangerous.  You should only cross railway tracks at designated crossings. Listen and look both directions for trains that may be approaching, and follow these other safety tips:

  • Never stop on the tracks. Make sure your entire car is able to cross with enough space to successfully clear the tracks before starting to go.
  • Be aware of other vehicles that must stop at railroad tracks.
  • Walking on railroad tracks is really dangerous, so just don’t do it.
  • Never race a train to a crossing. Drive with caution around railroad tracks and be prepared to stop.
  • Stop if you see or hear a train approaching. You can easily misjudge a train’s speed and distance because large objects appear to be moving slower than they actually are.
  • When red lights are flashing at railroad crossings, stop at least 15 feet from the closest track. Do not proceed over a crossing until the red lights stop flashing, even if the gate rises. And never drive around a crossing gate.

Intersection Etiquette

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

Today’s Three Seconds: Gridlock

3 Second StopDriving in the city has many hazards including traffic. Heavy traffic can lead to gridlocked intersections. As frustrating and tedious as it is to have a green light and no room to move, remember that legally you cannot enter an intersection if you are not able to completely cross before the light turns red. In other words, being stopped in an intersection is a big no-no. The best thing to do in this situation is stay calm and wait your turn safely behind the crosswalk.