Thursday, October 27, 2011

Trick-or-Treat with Care to Avoid the Real Terror on Halloween

Halloween is upon us – the time of year filled with pumpkin carving, haunted houses, parties, and of course, trick-or-treating! When contemplating what to dress up as this year, don’t forget the most important thing that should accompany every Halloween costume—SAFETY. Kids of all ages taking to the darkened streets on a quest for candy can present any number of traffic hazards, so it should come as no surprise that October 31 is the deadliest night of the year for pedestrians

Remember, costumes do not come with magical powers. Pedestrians, especially young children, are even more vulnerable walking around after dark in poorly lit or high traffic areas. While Halloween and horror go hand-in-hand, there’s nothing scarier than a child being hit by a car because they weren’t able to be seen by the driver. 

No matter what your plans are this Halloween Weekend, follow these tips, and dare we say tricks, to ensure your haunts remain harmless:

Tips For Trick-or-Treaters:
  Walk—don’t run—in groups or with a trusted adult.
  Attach something reflective to your costume or candy bag.
  Carry a flashlight or wear something lit, such as a glow stick, make yourself more visible.
  Walk on sidewalks or on the edge of the road facing traffic to be easily seen.
  Avoid potential hazards by not cutting across yards or driveways.
  Cross at a crosswalk or an intersection whenever possible.
  Look both ways before crossing the street.
  Make eye contact with drivers to ensure they see you before crossing.
  Set a curfew of 9:00pm to avoid being out too late after dark.

Tips For Drivers:
  Be extra mindful of increased pedestrian traffic in your neighborhood.
  Avoid driving in residential neighborhoods during trick-or-treating hours.
  Turn your headlights on an hour before dusk so you’re more obvious to pedestrians.
  Stop at intersections, even if there isn’t a stop sign, to let pedestrians cross safely.
  Slow down, be alert and avoid distractions.

Finally, take the pledge for no trick-or-tweeting behind the wheel!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Seatbelts Are Still the Safest “Technology” in Your Car

Despite the fact that roughly 85% of motorists used their safety belts in 2009, nearly half of passengers killed in traffic crashes that year (about 11,500) were not buckled up. So, while automakers continue using technological advancements to make vehicles safer, the easiest and safest thing everyone can (and should) do is use a traditional, yet proven safety device that goes back more than five decades: the 3-point safety belt.

Since the invention of the modern seat belt more than 50 years ago, enormous advancements in vehicle safety have been made with technologies such as front and side airbags, electronic stability control, child safety seats and so on. Among the latest advances, GM debuted a new front-center airbag that is designed to deploy between the driver and front seat passenger during a side-impact collision. These kinds of technological improvements have drastically reduced the risk of injury and death in the event of an accident, but none of them have a greater life-saving capability than the seat belt.

Between 1975—when the 3-point front seat belt became standard in all U.S. cars—and 2009, seat belts have been responsible for saving an estimated 267,890 lives. That’s an average of nearly 11,000 people each year – wives, husbands, brothers, sisters and children – who are alive today because they simply clicked in before they hit the road. Seat belt usage has increased dramatically over the years, with primary or secondary laws now in place in 49 states and the District of Columbia. And yet, despite today’s increasingly high rate of seatbelt usage, we shouldn’t be satisfied as thousands of lives are still lost on our roads each year because they were unbuckled.

The new in-vehicle safety technology becoming available is wonderful, but we should always remember that the simplest thing we can do to protect ourselves from being injured or killed in a crash is use a safety belt. Help protect your family and friends by setting a positive example of always buckling up, no matter how long or short the trip.

Don’t take chances, take action—buckle up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Teen Driver Safety Week—Teaching Teens Skills to Last a Lifetime

Traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States and the evidence of this often seen on the news is heartbreaking:
These are real kids, with real families left behind…and it’s happening every day in this country. We owe it to our children and society to do better, because the rate of teen crashes should be unacceptable to us all. Recent research by AAAFTS found that teen drivers are 50% more likely to crash in the first month of having a license than they are after a full year of experience and most crashes tend to involve three common mistakes – failure to reduce speed, inattention, and failure to yield. During the upcoming Teen Driver Safety Week (October 16 – 22) make teaching your child to drive safely and responsibly a priority. Talk with them. Drive with them. Lead by example when you drive, because they are watching and modeling you, even if they aren’t old enough to drive yet.  

Driving comes with a wealth of dangers no matter who is behind the wheel, but proper education and experience in varied, real-world driving scenarios are the keys to combating those dangers. Parental involvement is essential for exposing teens to different scenarios and the development of good driving habits, even after the law allows teens to drive solo.

Parents are best positioned to educate young drivers and ultimately save lives. That’s because, no matter what your kids may lead you to believe, parents remain the biggest influence on teens. Here’s what AAA suggests:
  • Practice, practice, practice: Ensure that basic skills are mastered and to introduce varied driving conditions (snow, heavy traffic, rural roads) with an experienced driver in the passenger seat.
  • Keep passengers out: Teen drivers’ crash risks multiply with teenage passengers in the vehicle. Set limits and enforce them consistently.
  •  Limit night driving: Reduced visibility makes night driving riskier for inexperienced teens.  Allow new teen drivers to drive at night only if truly necessary or to practice with a parent.
  • Keep setting rules: Parents can – and should – set and enforce rules above and beyond their state laws. In addition to night and passenger limits, set rules for inclement weather, highways, cities, or other driving conditions in which a teen has not gained enough experience. Find a parent-teen driving agreement on that can help.
 Finally, help us spread the word. Talk to others in your community about teen driver safety and forward on this information through your social networks – it just might save the life of a teen.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Calling All Drivers, Put Down Your Phones

For the fourth consecutive year the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s Traffic Safety Culture Index has found that drivers exhibit a “Do as I say, Not As I do” attitude when it comes to using cell phones behind the wheel.  According to the 2011 findings, 95% of drivers consider texting while driving a serious threat to their personal safety. Yet, more than a third of drivers admit to texting while driving in the past month. If that isn’t alarming enough, 88% of drivers also view talking on a cell phone as a safety threat, but a staggering two-thirds fess up they’ve done so themselves in the past month as well.  

Addressing this disconnect among motorists thinking something is unsafe and actually doing something unsafe, is the driving force behind Heads Up Driving Week. Running from Sunday, October 2 through Saturday October 8, the Foundation and AAA are promoting this campaign to get drivers to pledge to drive distraction-free for one week. Committing to one week will remove distractions during that time and hopefully show drivers that eliminating distracting habits behind the wheel makes the road safer for everyone.

When it comes to distracted driving dangers, the facts speak for themselves:
  • More than one million people have died in motor vehicle crashes over the past 25 years in the United States, including 32,788 in 2010.
  • In 2009, 5,474 people were killed and an additional 448,000 were injured in distraction-related crashes.
  • Studies indicate that cell phone use while driving roughly quadruples one’s risk of a traffic crash.
Driving distracted makes even the safest driver unsafe. This week the AAA Foundation is calling on all drivers to “Try it for a Week, Do it for life”. You can make the conscious and collective decision to put down the phone and become part of the solution, not the problem.