Safe driving is a holiday gift for everyone on the road

Published 1:51 pm Friday, December 15, 2023

With the Christmas holiday approaching, more people will be on the roadway, some traveling to visit family in other places, others just doing local shopping or going to family outings.

Not a day passes without traffic accidents in the city and county. They involve trucks, school buses, confusion, intoxication, distraction, speeding, etc.

If you’re a road user in the Tri-Cities, you probably don’t need to be presented with data to bear out the point. Using the road day-to-day is troubling enough.

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Experts have struggled to pin down the precise reasons for the increase in accidents, injuries, and fatalities. Elevated speed is one of the theories; alarmingly frequent and cavalier use of cellphones is another.

Listening to the police scanner Friday morning at work was troubling… there were accidents everywhere, none serious. But, they could have been. Whatever the reason for the accidents, it pretty much boils down to driver behavior. As one traffic officer said, “People need to slow down and pay attention to their surroundings, pay attention to the act of driving.”

Accidents will happen. More responsibility on the part of drivers, however, can reduce the rate at which accidents happen. Where roads are dangerous or tricky, drivers need to take exaggerated care. Also, when there is increased traffic on the roadway, drivers must be more attentive to the other driver.

Sure, drivers can blame road designs, blind spots, speed, or the other driver for accidents, but the buck has to stop with individual drivers.

First, always wear your seatbelt. Why wouldn’t you? Seat belts are the No. 1 lifesaving piece of equipment built into vehicles today. They save lives! Make sure that those riding in the car, including young children, are properly installed and secured by their belts.

Always travel within the speed limit, and if the road conditions are hazardous, then go slower.

Set up your infotainment systems before leaving the house. Technology is great, and every time we turn around, manufacturers are adding more to our vehicles. Be sure to set up your GPS, radio stations, or other tech gadgets before you begin driving. That goes for your mobile device too. Avoid using your phone when driving.

Never drive when you are impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Most people know when they have had too much to drink, and if you don’t, then always have a “sober” designated driver or a taxi cab ready. It’s much easier and cheaper than paying fines, lawyers, and increased insurance rates if you are caught. It is also safer than risking your life and someone else’s because you decided to drive when you knew you shouldn’t.

Stay a safe distance behind the car in front of you, no matter how many people cut in. The general rule is now a 3-second gap. During inclement weather, allow more time to safely stop for the conditions in which you’re driving. The most important thing is that you do not tailgate.

If a driver takes their eyes off the road for just two seconds, they double the risk of a crash.

It is up to a driver to choose to drive with care; to observe speed limits, to put the cellphone out of sight, to avoid driving while intoxicated, to avoid driving when tired or preoccupied. The safest roads in the world would be rendered dangerous by speed and inattention.

If you just focus on your driving, keep your hands on the wheel, keep your eyes on the road, and practice all these tips, you are a “Good Driver” and have the right to criticize others who aren’t. Because we care about you, your family, and friends…