The old colloquialism “Rules are meant to be broken” may be true in many cases, but not all. Some rules are, indeed, meant to be kept—especially those rules that help save lives.
Take for instance The Rules of the Road. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those between the ages of 1 and 54, and the problem is getting worse.
Last year in the greater Milwaukee area there were 79 crash-related fatalities; a relatively low number compared to previous years which numbered in the 90s. However, just a few short months into 2015 we’ve already exceeded that number. To date, there have been 114 fatal crashes—practically doubling the total from last year.
Sadly, more and more people are disregarding the “Click it or ticket” rule. Wearing a seat belt should never be a “maybe I will, maybe I won’t” option. Yes, they can be uncomfortable and confining, but ultimately they’re designed to protect. Statistics gathered over decades from emergency rooms across the nation prove that wearing seat belts reduces serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. Half! Such a simple thing to do can save so many lives, so please, buckle up.
As an extra added measure, here are a few more driving safety tips to remember:
- You’ve heard this before, but we can’t emphasize it enough—cell phones and driving don’t mix, especially if you’re texting. Getting distracted even for a second or two can create more havoc in yours and other people’s lives than you can imagine. If you’re driving put all calls and texts on hold. If there’s truly an emergency, be sure to pull over and avoid any further complications.
- Kids should be safely buckled in to appropriate child restraint systems (CRS) or devices, and not playing or jumping around in the front or back seats of your vehicle, as this may cause you to have an accident. Most car seats and boosters will note on the packaging if they are NHTSA approved. This is a designation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration . If your CRS does not have this noted on the box, it’s probably best to avoid it and select one that has been approved.
- Avoid driving while under the influence of medication, drugs, or alcohol. It is no secret that the number of DUI’s (driving under the influence) and DWI’s (driving while intoxicated) in Wisconsin is staggering compared to the rest of the country. While we take pride in, and enjoy our many prestigious breweries, we must also remember to drink responsibly.
- Being tired, fatigued, or ill can seriously affect our body’s reaction time. Use extreme caution if you’re getting behind the wheel, or if you can avoid driving, that would be best.
- Be careful when changing lanes. Weaving in and out at fast speeds is a leading cause of accidents. Use your turn signal to indicate your lane change, and avoid cutting off other drivers, as this can lead to not only accidents, but road rage.
- And while we’re on the subject—road rage is a serious problem. If you find yourself getting angry beyond what you feel able to control, it’s time to exit the road or highway and take a few moments out to do some deep breathing, and quiet your nerves. Being a few minutes late is better than harming yourself or others due to road rage.
Whenever we get behind the wheel, our focus should first and foremost be on getting to our destination safely. As the summer months approach, more and more of us will be hitting the road. Buckle up. Drive smart. Stay safe.