Monday, June 26, 2017

simple ways to help prevent crashes

Most crashes are not accidents. The word "accident" suggests something that is unavoidable due to circumstances beyond the parties' control. Most of the time, that is not the case. The majority of crashes are preventable, often by very simple measures. I would like to offer a few easy suggestions, based on years of experience in different kinds of traffic situations.

1. Use TURN SIGNALS, whether or not there are other vehicles close by. Even if you don't see another vehicle approaching the intersection, pedestrians and cyclists need to know whether or not your car is turning. Having a clue about a driver's intentions can make a big difference to a pedestrian or cyclist in determining whether or not one can safely cross in the crosswalk or get through the intersection before the light changes.

2. Turn on your car's lights at night or in reduced visibility situations (rain or fog). It's helpful if other people can see where you are.

3. A yield sign calls on the driver to do the following: Slow down, defer to oncoming or intersecting traffic, stop when necessary, proceed when safe, and remain aware of oncoming vehicles.  

At intersections with no stop or yield signs, following the yield procedure should be the default, yet too many drivers in our neighborhood treat this situation as an open invitation to blast through the intersection and expect everyone else to get out of their way, the vehicular equivalent of a raised middle finger.

4. Pay attention to your surroundings and other people nearby, regardless of whether they are walking, biking, driving, etc. That phone call or text message can wait.

If you want a quick reference on Illinois laws regarding bicycles, you'll find it right here. The City of Chicago recently released its Vision Zero plan for reducing traffic fatalities. Each of us can make a difference in making our streets safer, by actions that each of us take as individuals and by exerting peer pressure to help create a culture of yielding and being more aware of other people around us on the street.

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