Now that school is officially out for the summer, June, July, and August are the busiest time of year for travel. Naturally, this is the best time for families to take road trips to see relatives and vacation hot spots. As you prepare to take a vacation, let’s review some road safety tips.
Most drivers probably haven’t picked up the latest Department of Motor Vehicle’s Driver’s Handbook since they were 16, so it’s important to review issues many are likely to face. In the past 20 years Nevada averaged more than 350 vehicle accidents with fatalities, according to the latest U.S. Census data. All could have been avoided.
Safe driving starts with good vehicle maintenance. Make sure you have proper tire pressure, and operating headlights and turn signals. Tires with low or overinflated pressure can be problematic when braking. Ensuring the headlights and turn signals work not only improves your vision at night, but also give other vehicles proper warning when braking or changing lanes. Regularly scheduled oil changes and other motor maintenance can lead to a higher prevention rate of overheating or breaking down.
Drivers should make certain that every man, woman, and child is safety accommodated and wearing a seat belt. Seat belts will always offer a higher level of protection in the event of an accident (in fact, it’s the law). Children, up to a height of 4 feet, 9 inches should be in either a child’s seat or booster seat, according to SafeKids.org. Children’s car seats vary by manufacture, most of which are forward-facing seats recommended for the backseats. However, there are car seats that are designed to be rear facing. It is imperative to follow the car seats manufacture’s installation guide, and when possible, have a certified expert assist in installation. For more information regarding proper installation of car seats, contact the Boulder City Police Department.
The best driver is a defensive driver. Most people would say they are confident of their driving abilities but worry most about other drivers. Those drivers who are constantly on the watch for potential mishaps tend to recognize an event earlier, and therefore have more time to react. Take notice of all posted signs. Speed limits are not mere suggestions, they are the law.
Nevada recently adopted the Hands Free law, which bans all drivers from using cellphones in their vehicle, including at stop signs and red lights. There are many types of Bluetooth devices that would allow drivers to talk on the phone while keeping their hands on the steering wheel. However, it is important to note that talking on the phone should kept at a minimum even while using a hands-free device.
In the event an officer is pulling you over or you see an emergency vehicle running with lights and sirens, yield by pulling over to the right. Emergency vehicles have the right away to the far left lanes to respond to an emergency scene. There are certain extenuating circumstances when emergency responders may need to oppose traffic and drive on the wrong side of the road. It is a traffic violation not to yield to emergency responders, punishable by a ticket and an appearance before a judge.
Alcohol consumption before or while driving is never tolerated. Alcohol represents as a major contributor of accidents and to the number of road fatalities. Always take extra caution in extreme weather as well. High winds can cause low visibility, and wet roads increase braking distance.
Brian Shea is a Boulder City paramedic/firefighter. If you have further questions about this or any fire safety issue, contact the Boulder City Fire Department at 293-9228.