Spring into Safety
With the slow increase in temperatures, you might be planning your next vacation. Statistically, this time of year is when people are travelling the most. Besides going on vacation, people are generally traveling more in their daily lives, to school, work, or completing errands. However, regardless of the reason you are traveling, or whether you are driving or flying to your destination, safety is a priority. Being a safe traveler not only benefits you, but also benefits those around you. Because of that reason, we have put together some information and a few safety tips to help you on your commute.
Safety on the roads has become more difficult to maintain due to higher numbers of travelers and because of a wide array of distractions that affect driver safety. Safevahighways.org has reported 171 traffic fatalities since January 1st, 2018 by State Police of this year. This is an increase from last year, which was 158 at this time. They are encouraging drivers to “Take Five to Stay Alive”, a slogan used to encourage drivers to recognize and change their own unsafe habits on the road, helping to reduce the amount of traffic fatalities. Knowing those unsafe habits will not only help you but those traveling with you. Now that spring is here and the weather is only going to get warmer, according to AAA, on average, Americans drive more during the warmer seasons than they do in the colder ones. Warmer seasons offer the best driving conditions, chiefly due to more daytime driving with longer days and temperatures will stay above freezing so conditions are safer even when wet. However, regardless of season, there are still certain times that are worse than others when driving. The NHTSA reports that most accidents occur during “rush hour,” the hours between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. They also express that Saturdays are the most dangerous day of the week to drive, primarily because there are more cars and drunk drivers on the road than any other day. According to AAA, 31% of fatal drunk driving accidents occur on the weekend, especially between the hours of midnight and 3 a.m. Be mindful when traveling on holidays, July is approaching and according to the IIHS, The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the 4th of July is ranked as the deadliest day to travel.
Although spring is technically here, we are still facing unpredictable weather, knowing how the weather affects you and your vehicle can help you navigate through the elements safely. Taking weather conditions into consideration can help you become a safe driver. Fog is prevalent in the spring and fall and rain, snow, and wind are still factors this year as “old man winter” continues to hang on. Remember that these conditions can impair your vision, and can cause the roads to become slick. These conditions can affect the performance of your vehicle, affecting traction, stability, and maneuverability. According to U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, there are an average of 5,748,000 vehicle crashes each year, and approximately 22%, or nearly 1,259,000, of those crashes are weather related. The vast majority of weather related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall. According to driversed.com, heavy fog is the most dangerous due to the reduction of visibility. Safety tips when driving in fog include lowering the beam on your headlights and reducing your speed.
Regardless of the weather conditions, remember it is never worth it to text and drive. According to the Federal Communications Commission, approximately nine people are killed and more than 1,000 injured daily in the United States in incidents reported as involving a distracted driver, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) reports. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 people injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015 alone. During daylight hours across America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating electronic devices while driving, the NHTSA reports. Handheld cell phone use continues to be highest among 16-24 year old drivers, according to the National Occupant Protection Use Survey. In 2012, 3,328 people were killed in distraction-related crashes. About 421,000 people were injured in crashes involving a distracted driver. In 2012, 11% of drivers under age 20 involved in fatal accidents were reported to be distracted at the time of the crash.
Travelling with children can be fun, and yet sometimes stressful. The most important way to keep your kids safe, according to consumerreport.org is buckling them up. Although this is an easy thing to do, the consumer report suggests that a lot of people still neglect to do this. Studies shows seat belts are responsible for saving 329,715 lives in the last 50 years. Also, keep in mind that children 12 years and under should always ride in the backseat in a child seat or with a seat belt that is recommended by the National Safety Council in accordance with the child’s age, height and weight. According to the National Safety Council, car crashes are the leading cause of death for children. In 2015, 1,346 children under age 15 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. That’s more than three children every day. Properly securing children in safety seats goes a long way in keeping them safer. NSC believes child restraint systems should go beyond state requirements, because too often state laws are no match for the laws of physics.
Something that may not be on your radar is the securing any items that are lying around in the car is also important. The idea behind this is that if you were to have a crash those items could turn into projectiles, causing more injuries. One final point of critical importance: NEVER leave your child alone in the car. Unfortunately due to this, each year children die from heatstroke in vehicles.
When it comes to flying the first issue that comes to mind for some, is having to deal with Airport Security. TSA is such a pain, right? Though this is an underappreciated and, perhaps, ever disdained job, the folks in these positions are simply doing their a job that is critical to your safety during your flight. Unfortunately, the rules tend to vary a little from airport to airport due to testing and the implementation of new safety procedures, but here are some tips from the TSA website, TSA.gov, that will help you get through security at Richmond International a bit faster.
First, give yourself time to deal with last minute challenges that could cause you problem in making your flight. 1) Leave home with plenty of time to get to the airport early. This will not only help with getting through security, but also with any unforeseen issues with traffic or with the airline. 2) Observe the “3-1-1 Rule”: liquids, gels, and, aerosols, typically your toiletries, are to be no larger than 3.4 oz, and fit in 1 quart size bag and you are limited to 1 per person. These items along with any food and electronics larger than your cell phone, i.e. laptops, tablets, kindles, gaming systems, etc., must come out of your bags. If you are traveling with food, packing it in clear bags may aid with the screening process. 3) You are required to take your shoes off, unless directed otherwise by a TSA officer (or you are 75 years or older or 12 years or younger). 4) A great way to save time is to apply for TSA Pre-check. If approved, this will reduce the time needed for the screening process, and you can keep your shoes on, and toiletries in your bag. These tips are the most common issues dealt with by passengers. More information is available at www.tsa.gov.
Maintaining the safe transport of your belongings should also be on your “flying safe checklist”. If you like to print your boarding pass at home, and prefer to be dropped off at the airport to save time and money from finding parking, Smarter Travel.com may be a good source for tips to keep your personal belongings safe, from home to your final destination. Suggestions you may find helpful include: 1) put all your belongings into one place, 2) place documentation, such as identification, boarding passes, cash and credit cards in a little plastic bag and keep that bag in a convenient pocket in your carry-on, so these critically important items are easy to find and more difficult to lose. 3)Last, but not least, pack light, if you don’t absolutely need it, don’t bring it. In the case of air travel, less is actually more.
In conclusion, whether traveling by road or air, safety is paramount. It is important to understand that although there is inherent risk in travelling, planning ahead can reduce that risk substantially. Your focus on safe practices while traveling will not only keep you safe, but also maintain a higher level safety for those around you. Keep in mind that procedures concerning flight travel may vary from airport to airport.
Whether travelling by plane or automobile, maintaining safe practices will increase your chances of making it through the river and over the woods to grandmother’s house safely and happily!