by Traffic Professional Jay Anderson, Vice-Chair of the Lee County Community Traffic Safety Team, and Executive Director of Stay Alive…Just Drive!
During the course of my 47-plus years driving, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to participate in more than 15,000 driver education programs, some in classroom settings and many behind the wheel. Unfortunately, the average driver can operate a motor vehicle in Florida without any requirements for continuing education.
Drivers typically do not seek defensive driver training unless required by an employer, or motor vehicle operators 50+ who take a course to reduce insurance premiums. Consider the impact if Florida set the example and included continuing education in its highway safety plan. The results would produce safer roadways, reduce deaths and long term disabling injuries, along with lower insurance premiums.
In 2016, Lee County experienced a 14% increase in traffic fatalities (108) and hundreds more were injured. The human brain’s best ability is self-deception, so it should be no surprise that drivers are the weakest link in traffic safety. That’s why driver error remains the number one contributing factor in ninety-seven percent of all crashes. Ultimately the person behind the steering wheel or handlebars is responsible for the safe and lawful operation of the vehicle. No better time to share the safe driving tips I discuss in every class:
- Buckle Up-Every Trip-Every Time. No matter where you sit.
- Use your directional signals for all turns and lane changes. It only takes one inch to activate/deactivate if hands are at 9 and 3 on the steering wheel.
- Don’t follow too closely, 3 seconds. The only space we are in control of when operating a vehicle.
- A complete stop is a safe stop. No rolling stops. You won’t scan the intersection if you don’t stop completely.
- Stop for red lights. Always glance in your review mirror when stopping.
- Use care in parking lots. Back-in whenever possible. Eliminate the dead zone.
- Turn your headlights on for all rain, fog, smoke or reduced visibility. This makes us more visible to other drivers and turns tail lights on.
- Adjust your speed accordingly. Take your foot off gas and hover brake, cuts reaction time in half.
- Slow Down in construction zones. Speeding fines double.
- Attitude & Control. FIDO: Forget It Drive On.
- Choose your lane and stay in it. Minimizing movements, minimizes risk.
- Plan Ahead. Leave 10 minutes early. You don’t make up time by speeding.
- Move Over for stopped emergency vehicles. EMS, fire, police, road rangers, tow trucks and yes, garbage trucks.
- Situational awareness saves lives. Be aware of what’s happening ahead, behind and to your sides. Adjust your mirrors properly.
- Keep both hands on steering wheel at the 9 and 3 position. Airbags deploy at 25 milliseconds. Remember: 10 and 2 back at you, 9 and 3 they go free.
- Take a driver improvement course to raise your awareness and help assess your driving behavior. Most drivers are surprised at what they forgot.
Driving safe is never an accident. It represents the wise choice of many alternatives. Stay alert, stay focused. Stay Alive…Just Drive!
For more information on safe driving, call Jay with Stay Alive…Just Drive! at 239-340-8693.