Four simple strategies for drivers this holiday weekend can help keep our highways safer:
- Slow down;
- Pack your patience;
- Drive sober;
- Buckle up.
“Speed continues to be a leading killer on our highways and, mixed with aggressive driving, it is even more deadly,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow. “This weekend, plan ahead and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. Dangerous driving will not get you there sooner; it just creates hazardous driving conditions for you and everyone else on the road.”
OSP Superintendent Richard Evans emphasized that all three agencies are joining highway safety partners and law enforcement organizations across the country on the lookout for impaired drivers.
“Join us in the commitment to keep our highways safer by having a designated sober driver at all times,” Evans said. “Driving while impaired seriously jeopardizes your safety and the safety of others on the road around you.”
All three law enforcement leaders expressed their appreciation that each state has excellent compliance rates for seat belt use, but they also said more can be done as evidenced by the fact that unrestrained vehicle occupants continue to die in traffic crashes. WSP Chief John Batiste notes that more than a hundred people lost their lives in his state in 2012 while not using seat belts.
“It’s bad enough that we have to notify a family, on what should be a holiday, that they’ve lost a loved one in a traffic collision,” Batiste said. “It’s doubly heartbreaking when simply buckling up could have saved that person’s life.”
The agency leaders stressed that the “I-5 Challenge” is a challenge to prevent traffic fatalities, not a competition between police agencies for issuing citations or making arrests. Each agency will mix strategies to provide additional enforcement presence including using overtime grant funding and shifting of available resources already on the road to the I-5 corridor.
You can join the effort by committing to driving safely at all times and reporting possible intoxicated or dangerous drivers by calling 9-1-1 or your state law enforcement agency’s dispatch center.
Here are some tips for making the four strategies above work for you:
Getting Ready for the Trip:
* Plan ahead to give yourself plenty of extra time to get to your destination.
* Stay informed about weather conditions, potential traffic hazards and highway closures.
* Check road conditions by visiting your local state’s road and weather website or phone numbers
* Make sure your vehicle is ready for winter driving starting with good tires, a good battery, and a full tank of gas.
* Carry an emergency kit and chains or traction tires, especially if traveling over mountain passes.
* Snacks and bottled water also are a good idea for long trips, especially with children.
* Carry a map in case weather or road conditions force you to take a detour. Keep family members or friends aware of any significant changes in your planned route before you take the unplanned route.
* Get plenty of rest before you leave on any trip.
* Clear snow, ice or frost from windows and headlights before you leave.
* Make sure everyone is using safety restraints and secure any cargo.
* Always have a designated driver for any holiday activities that include alcohol.
On the Road:
* Drive according to conditions. If it’s wet, icy, snowy or foggy, slow down and increase your following distance behind other vehicles to at least a four-second distance. Keep in mind that conditions may not be perfect to drive at the posted speed.
* Use headlights even in daylight to help other drivers see you.
* Don’t use cruise control in wet, icy, snowy or foggy conditions.
* Be patient with all the other traffic on the highways.
* Watch out for pedestrians now that the days are shorter and darker, and remember they’re often dressed in dark clothing.
* If you get tired or drowsy, stop and rest during your trip or get a rested and sober licensed driver behind the wheel.
* There are still many construction zones on our highways, and even though work will be inactive over the holiday weekend there may be equipment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway. Stay alert and slow down because all work zone speed limits still apply and fines increase in these areas.
* Don’t drink and drive or get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.