Sharing the Road: Tips for Road Safety
We’ve all seen the joggers dressed in dark clothing, the cyclists darting out into the street from behind a parked car, and the drivers multitasking with their phones while driving. Can’t we all just get along and be safe together? Let’s face it. We all make questionable decisions sometimes – and that includes some decisions we make when sharing the road. Thinking things through and developing safe habits can help reduce the chance of accidents, injuries, or liability. The best apology is the one you never have to say.
Pedestrians and Joggers
Sometimes, having the right of way isn’t enough to keep you safe on the roadways. It helps to be proactive and be sure you’ll be noticed. Wearing brightly colored clothing makes you more visible on hazy days and light colored or reflective clothing will help you to be more visible at dusk or beyond.
Drivers aren’t the only ones guilty of being distracted by their phones. If you use your phone, stay aware of vehicles on the road or those pulling into driveways, and of course, when crossing streets. The safest way to use your phone when you’re out and about is to just glance at it occasionally or to stop someplace safe if you need to look at your phone for more than a moment.
Much like pedestrians, cyclists are vulnerable, and that vulnerability merits some extra caution. Before heading out, check your bike to be sure the reflectors are in place and visible. Blinking lights are available that can help you to be more visible to cars from further away. Reflective strips can be fitted to your helmet or gear, and much like joggers and pedestrians, bright or reflective clothing is recommended. For safety’s sake, you might choose to end your bike ride before dusk when visibility decreases even though it isn’t yet completely dark.
It’s best to think defensively and even to think like a driver. Try to leave room for cars to pass safely while also keeping yourself safe. When the road narrows or obstacles are in the way, like parked cars, often the safest solution is to yield and let the traffic pass.
The biggest part of driving isn’t simply the mechanics of steering the car – it’s being aware of our surroundings and anticipating changes that can cause an accident or lead to an injury. Driving the car is the easy part. Minimize distractions by making phone calls and sending texts before you start driving or when you stop. Even Bluetooth phone conversations can be a distraction, taking our minds somewhere other than the road even as our hands remain free.
Be mindful of your following distance. Our hectic schedules sometimes have us pushing to get to the next appointment or commitment and it can show in our driving style by following other traffic too closely. The safety features of many modern cars can lull us into a sense of security, but physics haven’t changed. Cars are still heavy, and they can still take time to decelerate to prevent an accident.
Drivers aren’t the Kings and Queens of the road but they are larger than pedestrians and bicycles - and that size comes with some added responsibility. Dogs run into streets, kids chase balls into streets, cyclists swerve into roadways, sometimes to avoid an opening car door, and it’s all part of sharing the road. Staying aware and ensuring you have enough time to react is the best way to share the roadway safely.
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