Friday, January 16, 2009

Beyond "Slow Down"

If there is a lesson to be learned from the recent blast of winter weather, the message I would say is that people simply need to "slow down". It is a message that police and the media pass along all the time, but it holds true. What do I mean by slow down?

- Take the time to clear your windows off. All of them.
- Clean your headlights. Clean your taillights. I find as someone who drives around all day that it is very helpful when you know the car ahead of you is braking or making a turn. It may just keep you from being rear ended.
- Reduce your speed. I don't mean just in driving, but also when slowing down for an intersection. This is the difference between coming to a stop at the light or sliding through it instead.

I know all of these are basic tips, but I have spent the past three days going nearly non stop in an 8 hour shift going from crash to crash (the proper term these days, not "accidents", for some reason), and from seeing person after person stuck or slid off the road.

Nearly all of these could have been avoided if people just took an extra five minutes in the day to "slow down" when they needed to.

Talking on the phone or texting also slows down your ability to react and safely handle your car. The extra weather demands extra attention, not less of it.

I am thankful to have a safe driving record while on duty (knock on wood) so far. I can't help that as someone who drives not just to and from work, but also for 8 plus hours DURING work, that my ability to avoid accidents, even including many high speed pursuits- and running in emergency mode with lights and siren at least once nearly every single day- is a result of using plain common sense and driving with care and caution. Keeping a heads up on what people around you are doing and planning for them to mess up while driving.

You can argue that police officers have special training and driving experience. This is true, but I attended the same basic high school Drivers Ed as you and take the same basic Indiana drivers license test as you. Defensive Driving applies to everyone. Using it is the key.

And after you have been in the cold, the snow, and throw in a near miss or two, you are thankful every day when you have only ONE crash report in a shift- because people decided to practice safe and slow driving that day.

Thanks for reading, see you next week!

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