Category Archives: state traffic laws

How to avoid a crash on the road

And what to do if you can’t. Here’s some excellent advice from the professionals …

Avoid this!

Avoid this!

Many thanks for this Safety Tip to the VT State Police, VT Department of Motor Vehicles, VT Agency of Transportation, VT Sheriffs’ Association and AARP Driver Safety, a kindly (and smart!) bunch of folks who work every day to keep Vermont drivers safe, and are happy to share their good advice with all of us, wherever we live.

How to Reduce Traffic Fatalities

There were 77 deaths on Vermont roads in 2012, a 40% increase over 2011, and the US full year figures aren’t out yet, but there was a 7.1% increase (to 25,580) nationwide over the first nine months of the year. What’s going on here? Why are there so many crashes? And why don’t we call them accidents any more? Most are due to poor driving decisions. And we call them crashes to stress that they can be prevented by avoiding these unsafe behaviors:

  • Driving too fast for conditions
  • Not paying attention (phone calls, texting and other distractions)
  • Following too close
  • Crossing center line
  • Not yielding right-of-way
  • Driving impaired by alcohol or drugs
  • Unsafe passing
  • Not checking mirrors and blind spots

But what if someone else hasn’t read and followed this advice? If threatened with a head-on crash, brake hard and steer toward the right shoulder. Never cross the center line to escape an oncoming car in your lane. If forced to hit something, try to sideswipe rather than crash head-on. A stationary object is normally less dangerous than a vehicle moving toward you.

After a crash, you are required by law to stop and give any assistance that is reasonably necessary. Understand that folks may be confused and upset, and follow these steps:

  • If possible, move vehicles out of the road. This will reduce chances of another crash causing additional damage and injury.
  • If someone is injured, call 911. Unless they are in danger, leave the injured where they are, and keep them warm and calm. Moving them may aggravate injuries.
  • Describe what happened to police officers, and show your license, registration, and proof of insurance to them and to anyone who is injured or whose property was damaged.
  • If you damage a parked vehicle and can’t find the owner, leave your name and contact information in or on the vehicle.
  • If there are any injuries or damage over $3,000, you must submit a Crash Report to the VT Department of Motor Vehicles within 72 hours. Forms are available online at dmv.vermont.gov, by calling 802 828-2050, or from any police or DMV office (or check your state’s website for the rules). Be sure to note the exact location, time and road conditions, a description of injuries and damage, and the name, address, license and registration numbers of the other driver.
  • Take photos and get names and contact information from passengers in the other vehicle and any witnesses.

Even in a crash, fatalities can be reduced by safety belts, which are the single most effective safety device for preventing death and injury on the road; they can reduce the risk of injuries by over 50%. Safety belts support a safe, comfortable position for better control of the vehicle and optimal airbag protection. To be most effective, belts should fit snugly across the hips, not over the stomach, and across the center of the chest, away from the neck. Never tuck a shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back.

Children are especially vulnerable, and are safest in the back seat. Drivers should make sure car seats and booster seats are appropriate for the child’s age and size, and properly installed.

Vermont law requires ALL occupants of a vehicle to be restrained with a safety belt or appropriate child restraint system, and so do most other states. Yet while national usage increased to 86% in 2012, Vermont compliance fell to 84.2%. We should do better, because it’s the law, and plain common sense.

We are killing too many Vermonters (or insert your state’s name here). Let’s buckle up, slow down, pay attention, and stay alive in 2013.

 

Better be careful out there!

So were you worried about where we would get our silly driving videos now that Keith Olbermann’s gone? Yeah, me too. But for now, a nice fellow from Georgia is taking care of us, bless his little pointed head, with this surprising video. Remember that still photo of the scary black helicopter behind the Speed Enforced by Aircraft sign? Well, this takes it to a whole new level. Check it out…

Are you scared yet? No? Then maybe you should check out Nicholas Kristof’s attack vehicle alternative universe from last Sunday’s New York Times, with bumper bayonets and private tanks…

 Watch Out! The Assault Vehicle is Loose!

Too bad we don’t have a video of this! And no, I’m sorry, you can’t have one. A tank I mean. Or a video either, unless that nice man in Georgia maybe? Let’s keep an eye on him.

 

Winter tires: goodbye to Driver Safety Month, but not to driver safety

Oh boy, here it is December already. Hard to believe that National Salubrious Driving Day and Driver Safety Month are both over so soon, isn’t it? Do you feel any safer? Would you like to? Well, I’m feeling safer so let me just share a few tips:

First, now that leftovers are gone, it’s time to start thinking about winter tires. We want to make it to the mall and back in one piece, don’t we? If you’re like me, you may have stopped thinking about winter tires years ago, when some smarty pants invented all weather tires. They certainly were convenient, and I think most of us fell for the notion that they were plenty good enough. I know I did. And honestly, I survived for the most part very nicely with my all weather tires through winters in upstate New York, New England, Michigan and even Colorado (although I admit to cheating by buying AWD vehicles in Colorado). So you can imagine my surprise when I arrived in the Northeast Kingdom and discovered that up here they still use winter tires. And do you know what? It works! Our wussy little front wheel drive that spent most of the winters in Colorado hiding in the garage can drive through just about anything now on its tough new winter tires. So if your all weather tires are scaring you out there on the ice and snow, check out a set of winter tires. I think you’ll like them.

I was also pretty excited to learn that winter tires with studs are still an option. When I was a young driver we always had studded snow tires that got us through the winter even on those old rear wheel drive cars. But that was before the birth of all weather tires, and we were driving on roads that were covered with a layer of snow or ice (or both) more often than not during the winter. And as it turns out, while studs were keeping us on the road, they had a tendency to wreck the pavement. So some states have banned them altogether, and most of those that allow them limit their use to the winter months. As usual, the rules vary from state to state. If you’re interested, you can check this chart compiled by the Rubber Manufacturers Association for the regulations in your state, or any state you plan to visit. But first, I have to say that although studs were terrific back in the day, they have their drawbacks now that the art of clearing snow from the roads leaves them clear and dry for a good part of the winter. And the studs that give you better traction on icy roads, don’t help at all on dry roads, and are worse when the roads are wet. So as fondly as I remember them from the good old days, I can’t say that I’d suggest you bother with studs on your winter tires today. Ah, but the winter tires themselves have my enthusiastic support. They are so worth it!

Finally, the good folks at AARP don’t declare a Driver Safety Month without a bundle of safe driving advice for backup. Check out this article: November is Driver Safety Month on the AARP website for more safe driving tips, and while you’re there, head over to the Driver Safety Program page for information on their excellent driver safety classes for adults.

Who says we can’t extend our salubrious driving habits into December and beyond?

Isn’t it about time for another commandment?

You bet! This is a winter commandment, one that wouldn’t normally apply in the south, but the way this winter’s been going, y’all had better listen up too. Here it is…

Before you hit the road, always make sure to clean off the ice and snow.

Why? Because Mother Rider says so, of course, and so does her sister Kacey. And in some states because it’s the law. But mostly because you could kill somebody with that stuff! I’m serious; it’s happened.You’re having a bad enough day already trying to drive on the crappy roads. Do you want to make it worse by killing or maiming the folks in the car behind you or on the sidewalk? Of course not!

I briefly considered citing various state laws on this topic as backup, or even compiling a complete state law digest. Some, for example, forbid any ice or snow and others just worry about the windows. Still others don’t mention ice or snow specifically but will bust you for anther offense that’s close enough, like an unsecured load or negligent driving. Fortunately, before I went to all that trouble I remembered that you all are smart enough to get it without extra help. You don’t care if it’s the law, because you know it’s the right thing to do. Right? Right!

You guys are the best!