– Eileen Evans Jankowski
Sharing the Road with Buses:
Believe it or not, children are safer traveling in school buses than in any other type of motor vehicle. However, every year, school bus accidents happen because many drivers forget about some school bus safety basics. Here are a few rules to follow when driving near buses:
- DO NOT pass a school bus until the red lights and signals are turned off.
- ALWAYS stop when traveling in the same direction as the bus.
- CHECK the law in your state regarding traveling in the opposite direction across a divided road. (Some states require that you stop then, too.)
- NEVER pass on the right side of the bus. Besides being illegal, this is where children enter and exit. Doing so can have tragic results
Getting on the Bus:
In addition to all the normal things you tell your kids about street safety, be sure to emphasize the following as it relates to school buses:
Sharing the Road with Bicycles:
With so many of us getting around on bicycles these days, coupled with an ever-increasing number of people driving, it’s important that we all learn to share the road. Here are a few tips for drivers and bikers alike to be aware of in order to stay safe:
Tips for Drivers:
Reduce speed when encountering bicyclists.
- Bicycles are considered vehicles, so give them the appropriate right-of-way and treat them with the same consideration you would give another driver.
- Give them more time.
- Keep in mind that bikes take longer than cars to cross intersections.
- Be aware.
- Keep your eyes open because cyclists can be hard to see at times. Pay special attention in intersections and when you open car doors.
- Pass with care.
- Take your time when passing cyclists and give them plenty of room. Wait until it’s safe to pass and when you do, be sure to leave at least 3 feet between your car and the cyclist.
- Use caution around kids.
- Expect the unexpected when you see a child on a bike and be especially careful of your actions and your speed.
Tips for Cyclists:
- Act like an auto driver.Give them more time.
- Remember to obey the same rules that drivers do: ride in the same direction as traffic, stay in the lane furthest to the right, and obey all stop signs, lights, and lane markings.
- Be predictable.
- Avoid swerving into the road or around parked cars. Enter streets and intersections slowly, check for traffic, anticipate road hazards, and adjust your position accordingly.
- Stay visible and safe.
- Wear brightly colored clothing and a helmet. If you ride at night, make sure your bike is fitted with lights or reflective tape, and make eye contact with motorists to let them know you’re there.
Some Basic Safe Driving Tips:
Driving is a huge responsibility. You need to pay attention to everything and everyone around you with distractions and obstacles often competing for your attention. Driving defensively– keeping your eye out for the other guy and driving courteously– is your best defense against accidents.
- Take a defensive driving class to brush up on your driving skills. Chances are, you’ve learned a lot of bad driving habits since you got your license. Completion of a defensive driving course will increase your driving awareness, minimize traffic violations, help prevent you from having an accident, and could save you money on your auto insurance.
- Observe the speed limit. Although we may not always like conforming to them, speed limits serve an important purpose. Not following speed limits can cause an accident or get you cited for a moving violation, which could raise your auto insurance rates.
- Slow down in bad driving conditions. (In extremely poor situations, you may not want to drive at all.) Rain, snow, and fog can make it difficult to see and impossible to drive. Plus, wet and uneven surfaces require additional time to make a complete stop. Wet surfaces require 2 to 10 times more stopping distance than dry ones.
- Keep your distance. Following too closely to other vehicles can make it difficult to stop in a hurry. Slowing down and putting distance between you and a hazard can prevent accidents. You can determine if you’re following too closely to other cars by using the “3-second rule.”
- Use a tree or pole on the side of the road to gauge how closely you’re following the car in front of you. If there’s less than 3 seconds between you and the car in front of you, slow down or switch lanes to pass.
- Pay attention to drivers around you. Distracted drivers may swerve, stop quickly, or react slowly. Be on the look out for other drivers’ erratic behavior by always using your mirrors to locate cars and hazards behind and beside you. Also, make sure to look several cars ahead of you for clues about when to apply your brakes.
Shopping for Safety:
The vehicle weight and safety features determine the safety ratings of your car – your car’s safety report card is a good indicator of how it will perform in an accident. Below are a few features to look for to ensure your car is safe on the roads:
Size (and Weight) Matters
Vehicles are crash tested based on new structural and safety features, weight class, and sales volume. Although safety features are a very important factor, your vehicle’s weight can also play a role in your accident survival rate.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Agency (NHTSA) reports that even with the same safety equipment, heavier vehicles fare better in accidents with lighter vehicles. Bigger is not better, but it can be an advantage in a two-car collision.
Vehicle weight aside, your vehicle’s safety features can protect you from injury or death, and from higher auto insurance rates.
Safety: Airbags and Head Protection
According to the NHTSA, air bags have saved over 10,000 lives, as of January 1, 2003. Side airbags also make a huge impact in saving lives. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported in 2003 that deaths have been reduced by 45% in driver-side collisions when side airbags and head protection were present.
Don’t forget that air bags are not effective without the use of seat belts. Seat belts prove their worth by saving lives. According to the Department of Transportation, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2003.
Don’t underestimate the importance of proper head restraints and seatback position. Used together effectively, they can reduce whiplash and injury in an accident. Good news for new model car buyers: head restraints have improved in 2003 passenger vehicle models by 45%.
The results are in…vehicle safety features could save your life.
Tips provided by Susan MacTavish Best for Esurance.