Traffic safety vigilance is constant

  • Published
  • By Safety office
  • Air Armament Center
Operating a vehicle seems like a simple thing to do. You just get in, turn the key and put it in drive. But it is not that simple and people are getting injured and killed every day.

As you drive the local roads you see special markers and memorials where someone's life tragically ended - on the same roads you are driving. They started out on the road just like you did enroute to somewhere, but they did not arrive where they expected. We all need to take operating a vehicle seriously and follow some basic rules and safety tips.

DISTRACTED DRIVING - According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration in 2009 almost 5,500 people were killed and almost a half million were injured in accidents related to distracted driving. That accounts for 16 percent of all fatal crashes and 20 percent of all injury crashes for 2009.

Operating a vehicle requires your full attention - hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, and a clear mind. If you text and drive, you are taking your eyes off the road, your hands off the wheel, and you are no longer in control of the vehicle.

Take a look at the last text message or phone call and ask yourself if it is worth wrecking your car or possibly killing yourself or someone else for? When you get in the car, put the phone down and do not answer it unless you pull off safely away from traffic. If you have other drivers, instruct them to do the same - especially teenage drivers.

SEE AND BE SEEN - We all know to turn the headlights on when it's dark so we can see where we are going, but do you turn them on in the middle of the day under reduced visibility situations like when it is foggy or raining? You probably don't turn them on because you can see where you are going, but that is a poor driving skill.

The reason you are required to turn your lights on is so others can see you. Florida State Statute 316.217 and the Eglin Motor Vehicle Traffic Supervision regulation require headlights to be on any time from sunset to sunrise including twilight hours. Headlights will also be on during decreased visibility to include rain, smoke or fog. Inclement weather means poor driving conditions so adjust accordingly. Slow down and increase your distance between the vehicles in front of you when visibility is reduced.

IMPAIRED DRIVING - We have all seen the commercials "over the limit, under arrest," but (according to NHTSA) each year there are 1.5 million arrests for impaired driving and approximately two-thirds of those arrested do not have previous impaired driving convictions.

THINK BEFORE YOU DRINK! Have a plan, get a designated driver, call a cab, your supervisor or WINGMAN. Whatever you do, do not take the risk by driving when impaired! Impaired driving does not mean being drunk, it is as simple as being under the influence or as some might say, a little "buzzed". Buzzed driving is drunk driving.

Use your most important tool - your brain (and not after drinking) - and keep your full attention to the task at hand. Remember to drive defensively, because unfortunately not everyone will take care to drive safely. Also, take the message home to other drivers and set the example. A safety-oriented attitude and assessment of your daily driving behavior will make you a better, safer driver and greatly improve your odds of arriving alive every time you get in a vehicle.