Include safe driving in New year's resolutions

Published on Thursday, 2 January 2014 00:02 - Written by By Patrice Dunagin Home & Family

It is that time of year when we turn our attention to making New Year’s resolutions. While all notions of self-improvement have their value, driving is one area where our actions can affect not only ourselves, but other drivers and passengers on the road.

Motor vehicle crashes continue to take their toll. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, in 2012 there were 3,399 killed and 230,506 injured in motor vehicle crashes in Texas. This is almost an 11 percent increase over 2011. Sadly, nearly half of those killed were not wearing their seat belts. And more than one-third of fatalities involved alcohol.

Making a resolution to drive safely in 2014 can very well mean saving a life. Some of the leading causes of traffic deaths are distracted driving, impaired driving and people not wearing seat belts. Resolve to be an “Active Driver” in 2014. What is an Active Driver? An Active Driver follows these safety tips to protect themselves and others on the roads, according to the Network for Employers Traffic Safety:

 Minimize distractions in the vehicle. Resist activities that take your mind and eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel. Cellphones are a major distraction, but there are other distractions as well.

 Always make sure that you are alert and clear-headed. Do not drive while impaired by alcohol, over-the-counter or prescription drugs.

 Frequently scan your mirrors to be sure you know where other vehicles are and that vehicles behind you are not getting too close. It is recommended that you perform a “full mirror sweep” every five to six seconds.

 Maintain a proper following distance. On clear, dry roads, your following distance should be three to four — double or triple if roads are wet or slippery, keeping in mind that in some cases it is best to stay off roads until conditions improve.

 Scan the road ahead for any possible dangers. Look down the road ahead of you for a distance that takes 10 seconds to travel. That’s about one block in the city and a third of a mile.

 Watch your speed. The faster you are driving, the less time you have to react to sudden moves by other drivers and the less time other drivers have to react to you.

 Take time to recharge. If driving a long distance, it is recommended you take a break every two hours or 100 miles, even if you don’t feel you need one.

 Remember to always buckle up! Seat belts will save your life!

Make 2014 the year you become an Active Driver and help save lives on our roads!

`For more information contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCS Agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.