Friday, November 18, 2011

Thanksgiving Travel Means A Full Plate For Drivers

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches many people have a lot of things that need to get done. Whether you need to tidy up the house before hosting the big meal or prepare a few dishes to take to dinner elsewhere, there are probably a hundred things on your “to-do” list. Then it shouldn’t be a surprise that the roadways will be equally as busy.  AAA forecasts that 38.2 million Americans will be traveling on our nation’s highways for the Thanksgiving holiday, a four percent increase from 2010. 

With so many people hitting the roads, it is important to remind drivers that as you rush around on errands or prepare to make a long trip to see family, safety should be your #1 priority. Distracted driving is surely one of the major obstacles drivers will face during this busy season. Calling home to find out what’s needed at the grocery store might be important for the Thanksgiving menu, but it’s not so important that the call can’t wait until you’re safely parked in the parking lot. While the vast majority of drivers agree that using a cell phone behind the wheel is a threat to safety, many continue to exhibit a “Do as I say, Not as I do” attitude when it comes to their own behavior while driving. This attitude has to change because no phone call or text is worth the consequences.

Another issue drivers need to watch out for is drowsy driving. Many drivers will be taking long trips at odd hours of the day so it is important to watch out for signs of sleep deprivation. Nearly one-third of drivers admit having driven when they had trouble keeping their eyes open and this is even more of a concern after a large Thanksgiving meal. 

So this Thanksgiving, be sure to put your cell phone down and get plenty of rest before you hit the road. Having the right kind of stuffing at the table is important but the most important ingredient to a successful Thanksgiving is the safe arrival (and departure) of the friends and family you care about.  Everything after that is gravy. 

Happy Thanksgiving from the AAA Foundation Family!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Much Discussed 'Do as I Say, Not as I Do' Attitude Exists with Drowsy Driving

A recent AAA Foundation study again calls attention to the ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ attitude that exists in this country when getting behind the wheel. In this instance, we’re referring to drowsy driving, which kills, just as sure as drunk, drugged and distracted driving does. A study we released last year showed one of every six deadly crashes and one in eight crashes causing serious injury involved a drowsy driver. Now, according to the Foundation’s 2011 Safety Culture Survey, two out of every five drivers (41%) admit to having fallen asleep at the wheel at some point, with one in 10 saying they had done so in the past year. Yet, nearly all of these same drivers (96%) feel drowsy driving is an unacceptable behavior and almost a third (32%) admitted driving when they were so tired that they had difficulty keeping their eyes open in the past month.


Drivers have a tendency to underestimate the impact being tired has on their driving ability, which puts themselves and others at risk. To help raise awareness among all drivers of the seriousness of this deadly, yet far too common driving practice, AAA and the AAA Foundation applaud the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Drowsy Driving Prevention Week®.

Most people have experienced the feeling of sleepiness while driving, and many try to power through or dismiss key warning signs that signal their minds and bodies need a break from driving. Please read and pass along the following safety tips and help us continue our conversation on how to change traffic safety culture in this country.

Warning signs of sleepiness include, but are not limited to:

• Having difficulty keeping your eyes open and focused, and/or having heavy eyelids

• Difficulty keeping your head up

• Drifting from your lane, swerving, tailgating, and/or hitting rumble strips

• Inability to clearly remember the last few miles driven

• Missing traffic signs or driving past your intended exit

• Yawning repeatedly and rubbing your eyes

• Feeling irritable or restless

To remain alert and prevent a fall-asleep crash, AAA offers these tips:

• Get plenty of sleep (at least seven hours) the night before a long trip

• Stop driving if you become sleepy; someone who is tired could fall asleep at any time – fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very sleepy to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk

• Travel at times when you are normally awake, and stay overnight rather than driving straight through

• Schedule a break every two hours or every 100 miles

• Drink a caffeinated beverage. Since it takes about 30 minutes for caffeine to enter the bloodstream, find a safe place to take a 20-30 minute nap while you’re waiting for the caffeine to take effect

• Travel with an awake passenger

For more information on Drowsy Driving, including the Foundation's b rochure How to Avoid Drowsy Driving, visit aaafoundation.org

 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Time to Fall Back into Safer Habits


The growing chill in the air, the rustling of leaves under our feet, and the holidays just around the corner all signal that it’s time to turn back our clocks. As we prepare to fall back an hour this weekend courtesy Daylight Savings Time it can be easy to discount the potential dangers that come with fewer hours of daylight to complete everyday tasks. The sun rising later and setting earlier means that morning and evening activities, like a daily run, walking the dog, commuting to and from work, and walking or biking to school might now be done under the cloak of darkness with diminished visibility for all involved. Colder temperatures also cause people to brace against the elements by using jacket hoods to keep warm and drivers often begin driving with frosty windshields (even though they shouldn’t). Both of these things restrict vision and make it considerably less likely for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists to be aware of one another.

Traffic safety is a shared responsibility, so here’s a quick refresher to ensure safer travels via all modes of transportation:

See and Be Seen
- Leave headlights on an hour after dawn and turn them on an hour before dusk.
Don’t Drive Drowsy
- Avoid grogginess behind the wheel on dark mornings by allowing for sufficient prep time to fully wake up.
Walkers Watch Out
- Keep to sidewalks and crosswalks.
- Wear bright or reflective clothing, dark clothing in dark light make you difficult to spot.
- Slow down and stay alert when driving on residential streets and in school zones during early morning and afternoon hours.
Bikers Beware
- Ride on the side of the road (or bike lane if available) and ALWAYS obey traffic signals.
- Like walkers, dress to be seen and be sure you have reflectors and/or lights to make you more visible.
Dodge Debris
- Use caution when driving through piles of leaves, which can hide dangerous debris and become slippery when wet.
- Fall storms means down tree limbs and branches, be mindful of them blowing into the road.