Friday, April 11, 2014

Spring Has Arrived... and it is Dangerous... Be Safe With a Few Tips in Mind

It is spring and this is the time of year when it can be easy to forget our normal driving behaviors in lieu of the warmer weather.  Here are some tips to keep in mind to keep you and others safe on the road.

1. Don’t be too eager to take off your winter tires. They should be left on until the ambient temperatures stay above 7 degrees Celsius.  If it gets warmer, flip on the all-season tires to save your winter tires from burning up.

2. We may still see some snow fall which means the warm spring sun can melt ice and snow near the road. This melt water can freeze when the sun stops shining on it and the temperatures drop below zero. If you see wet-looking roads and the temperatures have dropped below freezing, expect ice and slow down.  Be safe than sorry.

3. As the weather warms it will bring out motorcyclists and cyclists. Every motorist has to practice good vision techniques and stay focused on their driving to spot these smaller road users. We must share the road with all users. Looking out for and respecting these two-wheeled travelers is an important part of safe motoring.  Also, be considerate to cyclists on shoulder highways and/or bike paths beside major routes.

4. Warmer weather brings more children outside. Slow down and pay very careful attention in school zones and residential areas. School kids are easily distracted by play and don’t always notice traffic. 

5. Be alert for anyone who may be fixated on their texting, socializing and cell phones and, as a result, won’t be paying much attention to traffic.  Too many of us are distracted these days with these “mini-computers.”  Additionally, do not text and drive!

6. This time of year is when we can get the wide fluctuations in temperatures and freeze-thaw cycles. This combination causes pot holes to form. Stay well back of the vehicle in front and stay focused on your driving and you can give yourself more time to see these wheel-bending potholes. Staying farther back from the vehicle in front of you will also reduce your chances of being hit by kicked-up rocks. Keeping your vision high is critical to safe driving. Do not become fixated with looking downward at the road looking for potholes and debris. Use quick glances to look for dangers on the road surface.

7. Many animals hibernate through the winter and will now be on the move as they forage for food. Being prepared for this can help prevent animal deaths and damage to your vehicle. Slow down in rural areas or where animal traffic is high. Take a couple extra minutes to get to your destination.  If you are in a hurry and get into an accident, you are not going anyway.  Be safe.

Driver distraction is a leading cause of traffic crashes. It is so important to remember to stay focused on the task of driving and let your passengers enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of spring in safety.  Happy spring everyone and enjoy your drive!

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