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Freedom from Distracted Driving: July 4th Safe Driving Tips

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The fourth of July weekend is a chaotic travel period in California, and the deadliest on the roadways. Focus on fun and safe driving. Distracted driving will ruin your weekend, and can put your life or someone else’s at risk. “This is a time for celebration, not tragedy,” said California Highway Patrol (CHP) Commissioner Joe Farrow. “Celebrate this Independence Day by having fun but also by being responsible in the choices you make.” Here are 10 safe driving tips to start your Independence Day off right:

Ensure your car is in good working condition before leaving. Get a tune up; check tire tread and pressure, oil and fluid levels, working lights and windshield wipers, etc.

Buckle up. Last year during the Independence Day weekend in California 32 people were killed with 70 percent of those killed not wearing a seat belt. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about 50%. Adults who live in rural areas are 10% less likely to wear seat belts (78% usage) than adults who live in urban and suburban areas (87% usage). Also, secure infants and children in properly fitted car seats and booster seats. In the majority of accidents, seat belts save lives.

Don’t drink and drive.  California law defines driving impaired as a crime with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above 0.08 percent (0.08 g alcohol per 100 ml blood). Last year on Independence Day, more than 1,300 people in were arrested by the CHP for driving under the influence.The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) provides fast facts about driving under the influence. According to the CDC, one 12-ounce beer is equivalent to one 5-ounce glass of wine, or 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Drinking alcohol slows reaction time and impairs judgment and coordination, all skills needed to safely drive a car.  The more alcohol consumed, the greater the impairment. If you drink, don’t drive. Designate a sober driver or use a taxi service, private car or ride share.

Sobering Facts. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), during Fourth of July periods from 2008 to 2012, 765 people were killed in DUI-related crashes nationwide. The CHP will be out in full force during the holiday weekend in an effort to reduce roadway deaths and prevent injuries. The Independence Day Maximum Enforcement Period (MEP) begins on Friday, July 3, at 6 p.m. and continues through Sunday, July 5, at 11:59 p.m. All available officers throughout the state will be deployed during the MEP to focus enforcement on occupant restraints, speed violations, and those driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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Observe speed limits.  Think ahead and allow plenty of time for arriving to your destination. You will share the road with thousands of other drivers, road construction, and traffic is probably unavoidable.

Stay alert. Take a break if you are tired or drowsy. Take advantage of rest stops. Drive alert.

Avoid distractions. Don’t talk or text on your cell phone while driving. Talking or texting while driving is against the law in Sacramento County and anywhere else in the state, the CHP warned. Program your GPS before leaving or when stopped, never while driving. Ask your passenger to be in charge of music. Don’t put on makeup while driving. Don’t eat, open or close food packaging while driving. Other vehicles may be getting in your lane, turning, or slowing down. In-car distractions diminish your chances of driving defensively when you need to most. One or two seconds of distractions can negatively impact your life and the lives of others.

Load SUVs properly. When loaded down with additional weight—such as passengers, luggage, and equipment—SUVs become less stable. Compared to most sedans and station wagons, SUVs have a higher center of gravity. With the extra weight, which typically rides above a SUV’s center of gravity, the vehicle can tip over more easily.

Drive cautiously on rural roads. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), more accidents occur on rural roads than other venues.

Secure your pet. Most likely you wear a seat belt. What about your pet? Cats and dogs should be secured in crates that are secured by straps or bungee cords in the event of a sudden stop. A loose pet or a hurling crate can crash through the windshield. Protect your 4-legged friends.

Act like your life depends on driving safely. It does.

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