Thursday, May 26, 2011

Safety First This Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day Weekend signals that the warm weather of summer is just around the corner. Students are counting down the days until summer break and parents are making the family vacation plans. Most people plan to spend this weekend outside attending barbeques with friends and family. However, all of this means increased traveling and congestion on our roads and the AAA Foundation wants to remind you that even in the midst of Memorial Day excitement, safety needs to be a priority.

Driving in beautiful weather with the windows down and sunroof open can make the shortest drive across town seem like joyful experience. However, drivers need to be careful because there is the potential of an increasing number of distractions as people start to spend more of their time outside. It’s simple; one minute you’re waving to a friend that is walking on the sidewalk and the next you’ve rear-ended the car in front of you. This example would be a minor incident but make no mistake, distracted driving in any form can have serious consequences.

Distraction isn’t the only thing drivers should be conscious of during the holiday weekend. Afternoon barbeques also means there will be the temptation to drink and drive. Drunk driving is not a game and a DUI, or even worse a serious accident, will ruin anyone’s holiday weekend. Drowsy Driving is also something people should watch out for this weekend, specifically anyone making a longer drive out of town or planning to drive late at night.

Memorial Day is a time to remember all of the people who have lost their lives serving our country. Let’s honor them by making responsible decisions and protecting the lives of each other while we’re on the road this weekend.

Monday, May 16, 2011

National EMS Week—What to Do When You Hear the Sounds of Sirens

Have you even been driving down the road when all of the sudden you hear a siren in the distance or see flashing lights in your rearview mirror and immediately ask, “What is going on?”, “Where is that coming from?”, or even “What have I done?” It is easy to get surprised by an emergency vehicle and even more important to know how to respond quickly as this teen found out while in the car with her dad. Your reaction, however, could help save a life.

In honor of National Emergency Medical Services Week and the first responders helping to save lives on our roads, here are some quick tips to help drivers react the right way and clear the road quickly:
  • When an emergency vehicle is approaching, pull as far to the right as possible and stop until the vehicle safely passes.
  •  If you’re on a two-lane road, at an intersection or stuck in gridlock, yield the right-of-way as best as possible to give the vehicle room to get past and keep intersections clear.
  • If there is no safe way to pull over and stop, slow down to at least 20 MPH under the posted speed limit, or 5 MPH if the speed limit is already 20 MPH or less, and let the emergency vehicle go around you.
  • When you happen upon an emergency vehicle on the side of the road with their lights flashing, this is not the time to try to get a closer look at the action. Slow down, stay focused to watch for emergency personnel in the area and keep your distance until you’ve safely made your way past the scene.
To get to emergencies without delay, ambulances, fire trucks, police and other emergency vehicles depend on  the cooperation of other roadway users. Keep these tips in mind the next time you hear a siren squeal to do your part to support these lifesaving heroes!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ten Years Toward Zero Deaths – Decade of Action Launches Worldwide

Everyone knows that traffic crashes kill tens of thousands of people each year in the United States, most of which could easily be prevented. A recent Foundation survey found that even amidst the calls for smaller government and decreased budgets, Americans are supportive of government involvement when it comes to improving roadway safety. And while the number of US traffic fatalities has declined in recent years, traffic safety remains a major health issue both in US and around the world. Have you ever stopped to think about how many people around the world die in traffic accidents each year?

Every six seconds someone somewhere is killed or injured on the world’s roads. Road traffic accidents are among the top ten causes of death around the world, claiming 1.3 million lives every year—that’s three times the total number of traffic deaths in the U.S. over the past 10 years (411,574 fatalities from 2000-2009). The younger you are, the higher your odds—the number one cause of death among young people worldwide is roadway accidents.

That’s why the United Nations is launching the Decade of Action for Road Safety with the goal of stabilizing and then reducing global road deaths by 2020. Today, May 11, 2011, events are taking place on every continent to kickoff this worldwide initiative. Former U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland and CDC Director Thomas Freiden will join the ranks by voicing their support at a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning, reaffirming the need for all of the nation’s highway safety agencies to adopt “Toward Zero Death” goals over the next 10 years.

But this isn’t just about lowering the number of lives lost on roads around the world. This is about a universal change in safety culture. This is about communities, cities, towns and countries working together to make our roads safer, to protect one another. We must go beyond single-solution thinking toward more strategic, broader reaching goals. There is a need to place a higher value on human life as you travel, be it your own, your neighbor’s, your family member’s or someone you’ve never even met.  These are issues the Foundation continues to highlight with our annual safety culture survey and through discussion within the transportation community at events like the Traffic Safety Culture Summit. This is about taking a pledge over the next decade to elevate road safety to the upper echelons of global causes.

Where will you be in 10 years?  Hard to say, but the better question is how safe will your roads be? Act now.