Holiday Driving – You Can’t Control What Others Do

holiday-driving

With New Year’s Eve included on everyone’s list of the top five most dangerous driving holidays, the end of the year marks one of the busiest and most deadly travel times

Unexpected events can create unexpected consequences. With New Year’s Eve included on everyone’s list of the top five most dangerous driving holidays, the end of the year marks one of the busiest and most deadly travel times. You need to be prepared for whatever driving experiences may come your way.

Passive/Aggressive Drivers

Drivers who stake out their lanes and refuse to yield to others to allow passing or merging can be almost as hazardous as someone who tailgates, speeds, cuts other drivers off or is distracted behind the wheel. While all of these behaviors are an everyday occurrence on America’s roads, it’s how you react to them that’s important. Do you allow yourself to get angry at what other drivers “should” be doing, or do you adjust your driving to safely deal with their rude behavior? Do you slow down to avoid erratic drivers? Do you get annoyed when someone honks or yells at you for no apparent reason? Dangerous drivers cannot “make” you angry and “cause” you to respond in kind. That’s your decision and you will be a much safer driver if you stay alert and don’t respond to the ignorance of others.

Distracted Drivers and Pedestrians

During the holiday season, more drivers are out and about shopping, making their holiday preparations or traveling to and from holiday parties, concerts, volunteer work and family gatherings. Delivery vehicles also crowd roadways much more than usual. The U.S. Department of Transportation estimates long-distance travel increases by as much as 23% during the December holiday period. Once you’re on the road, whether in a city or on a highway, you have to be alert to the problems this increased traffic will cause. Out-of-town visitors may be unfamiliar with the area, so keep a safe distance from vehicles making sudden moves and stops, because the lost driver may be on a cell phone or attempting to read directions. Also, watch for pedestrians in the streets, as well as in parking lots. When they’re not paying attention, you have to be, especially when you’re making a turn and pedestrians are in the crosswalks.

When the Weather Turns

One of the surest ways to avoid being involved in an adverse weather accident is to increase the space and time that you have to maneuver your vehicle. In other words, give yourself room to react. Whenever possible, drive in the open, staying away from packs of vehicles to gain extra space. Slow down and back off if you’re catching up to a cluster of traffic. Try to stay in your lane and protect your blind side to reduce sideswipes from other vehicles. Increase your following distance to a minimum of eight seconds and, in more severe conditions, to at least twelve seconds. You are the professional on the road and the most important things you can do to be safer when you’re behind the wheel are to keep your distance, keep your wits about you and SLOW DOWN!

 

Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities Down In 2013

Keep your eyes moving & slow down in congested areas to help pedestrians, who might not paying proper attention, stay safe.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) has released a new report showing that for the first time since 2009, the number of pedestrians killed on America’s roadways is declining. The preliminary 2013 report indicates that compared with the first 6 months of 2012 (2,175 deaths), pedestrian deaths fell by 8.7% during the first half of 2013 (1,985 deaths). More states had decreases than increases in the fatality rate, with Florida and California showing the highest rates of decline.

GHSA analyzed pedestrian deaths in the U.S.between 2009 and 2012, and discovered a 15% increase in the fatality rate during that time. Compared to a 3% decrease in all other motor vehicle fatalities in the same time period, the results were concerning enough to prompt the organization to conduct the new study. The data came from all 50 states’ highway safety offices and from the District of Columbia. States with the most fatalities are primarily large-population states with large urban centers. California, Texas and Florida accounted for one-third of all pedestrian deaths reported. The lowest percentages of pedestrian fatalities are in predominantly rural states such as South Dakota (2%), North Dakota (4%) and Wyoming (5%).

While there are no definitive conclusions as to why pedestrian fatalities increased so significantly before 2013, speculation centers on the economic recession since 2009, which may have put more people on the streets, walking to lower their transportation costs. Walking for health and environmental benefits may have also been a factor, as well as the surge in distracted walking incidents. A study by the Pew Research Center indicates that more than half (53%) of all adult cell phone owners have been
involved in some form of a distracted walking encounter. Whether cell phone owners live in urban, suburban or rural areas, and without a significant age differential, all are equally likely to have run into something or been run into by something, due to distracted walking.

The reasons for the decline in pedestrian deaths in 2013 are also difficult to explain. But the study speculates that all 50 states have been utilizing a number of engineering, educational and enforcement programs to help combat the problem. These include designing and operating roadways that make access safer for all users; adding mid-block crossings; making crossing signals better timed for pedestrian use; and even using plainclothes police officers who are placed in marked crosswalks to identify and warn or cite motorists who do not yield the right of way to pedestrians.

As a professional limousine driver, chances are you are surrounded by pedestrians several times a day and night. Please remember that keeping your eyes moving and slowing down in congested areas will go a long way in keeping the roadways safer for you, your passengers and for the pedestrians who might not pay proper attention to their own surroundings.

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School’s Back; Unique Hazards Presented

Children are most in danger of being hit 10 feet around a school bus.

After the hustle and bustle of the last days of summer and school openings, sharing the road with children will be a common occurrence. While professional drivers are among the most careful drivers on the road, the National Safety Council (NSC) offers an extensive recap of things to remember when driving near kids and school buses, including:

  • All 50 states have a law making it illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
  • Yellow flashing lights indicate the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children.
  • Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm signal that children are getting on or off the bus.
  • All 50 states require that traffic in both directions stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. State laws on divided highways vary, but all states require that traffic traveling in the same direction as
    the bus must stop.
  • Children are most in danger of being hit 10 feet around a school bus; give them space to safely enter and exit.
  • A problem everywhere these days and increasingly in school zones, is distracted walking – especially pedestrians speaking or texting on a cell phone and not paying attention to the traffic around them.
  • Never pass a school bus on the right; it is illegal and could have tragic consequences.
  • Students that drive to school are very often novice drivers who might drive inappropriately when entering and exiting school lots. They frequently have friends in the car with them and are very easily distracted.

Always Stop For Pedestrians

  • Do not block a crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn; if they have to walk around your vehicle it puts puts pedestrians in a dangerous situation.
  • In school zones with blinking warning flashers, you must stop and yield to pedestrians whether there is a marked crosswalk or not.
  • Stop when directed to do so by a patrol officer or crossing guard.
  • Children can be difficult to see. When children are present, there are probably more of them in the area.
  • Avoid honking the horn or revving your engine when pedestrians are in front of your vehicle in a crosswalk.

Beware of Children On Bicycles

  • When passing a bicyclist proceeding in the same direction, do so slowly and leave at least a distance of three feet between you and the bicyclist. If you don’t have sufficient room, don’t pass until you do. Maintain your clearance until you have safely passed the bicycle.
  • The most common causes of collisions with bicycles are when drivers are turning left in front of an oncoming bicycle, or turning right across the path of the bicycle. In all situations, always use your turn signals.
  • If a cyclist enters an intersection when you are turning left, wait for him or her to pass before making the turn.
  • If you are turning right and a cyclist approaches your vehicle on the right, let the cyclist go through the intersection first.
  • Always slow down in school zones and neighborhood areas where children and teenagers might be riding.
  • Watch out for bikes coming out of driveways or from behind parked cars or other obstructions.