Posted in be prepared for emergencies, BE SAFE, Health & Welfare, Travel, Uncategorized

Don’t Drive Yourself to Distraction

no cell phones - while drivingDistracted driving is no laughing matter! Because of the serious nature of this week’s blog topic, I have refrained from my usual firedogisms. Please #BeSafe while you drive!

April is National Distracted Driving Month. Increasing awareness about distracted driving is a critical endeavor, as the National Safety Council reports that 40,207 people died in motor vehicle accidents in 2016. That figure represents a 6% increase over 2015 and a 14% increase over 2014 — marking the most dramatic two-year escalation in 53 years. Experts agree the increase in accidents is in direct proportion to the easy accessibility of technological distractions. In other words, the more available tech-related temptations, the more likely American roadways will be filled with distracted drivers.No Distracted Driving Sign

New York Times Business Writer Neal E. Boudette explained the phenomenon by saying, “Cars and phones now offer advanced voice controls and other features intended to keep drivers’ eyes on the road, (but) apps like Facebook, Google Maps, Snapchat and others have created new temptations that drivers and passengers find hard to resist.”

Fleet Management Weekly quotes Deborah Hersman, president and chief executive for the National Safety Council, as asking, “Why are we O.K. with this? Complacency is killing us.”

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Nearly half of all people (surveyed) say they feel less safe (driving) than they did five years ago.” AAA attributes this reaction to the fact that (while they are behind the wheel) drivers spend more than half their time focused on things other than driving.

Texting and driving. Warning message.AAA also references a distracted driving term known as “latency,” which means that texting while stopped at a traffic light or while stopped on congested freeways can impact full driving engagement, for an average of 27 seconds after texting stops. Replicated across thousands of cars during rush hour, this can add up to significant delays in addition to associated accidents.

Experts agree that cell phone use, which includes talking and texting, remains the most common distraction to safe driving. In response, many states and local jurisdictions are passing laws that address these behaviors. Leading the charge is the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), whose message to all drivers is straightforward: “Don’t use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving, regardless of the current law.” 

Safe Driving
Distracted driving puts others who are also on the road at risk.

10 Tips for Managing Common Driving Distractions 

  1. Turn it off and stow it. Turn your phone off or switch it to silent mode before you get in the car. Then stow it away so that it’s out of reach.
  1. Spread the word. Record a message on your phone that tells callers you’re driving and will get back to them when you’re off the road, or sign up for a service that offers this feature.
  2. Pull over. If you need to make a call, drive to a safe area first.
  3. Use your passengers. Ask a passenger to make the call or respond to a text for you.
  4. X the Text. Don’t ever text and drive, surf the web or read your email while driving. It’s dangerous and against the law in most states. Even voice-to-text isn’t risk-free.
  5. Know the law. Familiarize yourself with state and local laws before you get in the car. Some states and localities prohibit the use of hand-held cell phones in addition to texting. GHSA offers a handy state law chart.
  6. Prepare. If using a GPS device, enter your destination before you start to drive. If you prefer a map or written directions, review them in advance. If you need help while driving, ask a passenger to assist you or pull over to a safe location to change your GPS or review your map/directions.
  7. Secure pets. Unsecured animals can be a big distraction in the car.
  8. Mind the kids. Pull over to a safe place to address situations involving children in the car.
  9. Focus on driving. Multi-tasking behind the wheel is dangerous. Refrain from eating, drinking, reading, grooming, smoking, and any other activity that takes your mind and eyes off the road.

Remember These Do’s and Don’ts.

While you are driving, DO NOT:

  1. Text or send Snapchats.
  2. Use voice-to-text features in your vehicle’s dashboard system.
  3. Update Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vimeo, Vine or other social media.
  4. Check or send emails.
  5. Take selfies or film videos.
  6. Input destinations into GPS (while the vehicle is in motion).
  7. Call or message someone else when you know they are driving.Just Drive to #BeSafe

DO:

  1. Stay on top of the distracted driving issue all year long by signing up for the National Safety Council’s free e-newsletter.
  2. Take the attentive driver pledge.
  3. Share your pledge on social media.
  4. Create awareness in your workplace, at home or in your local community by sharing the distracted driving message.

Remember that safety is important for everyone across the country, whether on the roads or not. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the Allied Universal Fire Life Training System, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. For more information about the best system out there, or to subscribe, click here.

Posted in safe driving

One Text or Call Could Wreck it All

National Distracted Driving Month — Hands-Free is Not Risk-Free

texting 6While drivers are finally starting to agree that hazards are associated with texting while driving, an even larger problem looms, relative to cell phone use while driving a car. To date, most Americans remain unaware of the hazards associated with using cell phones while driving at all…even with a hands-free unit. I am almost glad I don’t have opposable thumbs, which make it impossible for me to drive or use a cellphone.

According to the National Safety Council, more than eight in 10 Americans believe cell phones are addictive, which underscores the need to help drivers kick their cell phone use habit altogether. I suggest dropping phones in the toilet and using the money to invest in bacon. In response to the danger In response to the danger, the council is using Distracted Driving Month 2015 to launch a new national campaign—Calls Kill, to illustrate that hands-free cell phones are not risk-free, and that no call is worth a life.

“For far too long, we have prioritized convenience over safety,” says Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO, National Safety Council, “When we get behind the wheel, we have an obligation to keep one another safe. Drivers who justify cell phone use with the hands-free myth are disregarding that obligation. It’s time to reconcile the cost of being constantly connected with the consequences of risky behavior behind the wheel.”

texting 7Studies have shown that drivers who are talking on cell phones—even hands-free—are cognitively distracted by the conversation so they are unable to adequately focus on the important task of driving. Driving and cell phone conversations both require a great deal of thought. When doing simultaneously, the brain is unable to do either task well. For example, it is nearly impossible to read a book and have a phone conversation. While driving, doing two things at once often results in crashes due to delayed reaction and braking times and failure to see and process traffic signals. So does sniffing while walking around the neighborhood.

Although we know that cell phone-related car crashes are a problem, to date, we are unable to accurately measure the degree because, unfortunately, no breathalyzer-like test exists for cell phone use behind the wheel. And drivers who are involved in crashes are reluctant to admit use. So this results in a huge gap in the data. Nevertheless, research shows:

  • Young Drivers Report the Highest Level of Phone Involvement in Crash or Near-Crash Incidences, per theNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  • No fewer than 1.3 million documented cases of cell phone use have contributed to automobile accidents since 2011.
  • The minimum amount of time it takes to shift attention from a device to the road is five seconds. While driving at a speed of 55 mph, a person travels the length of a football field in this short amount of time. I’ll bet the actual number is much higher, though that’s a scary thought.The minimum amount of time it takes to eat a slice of bacon is not measurable with existing technology.
  • The risk of crash increases by 23% while text-messaging.
  • Dialing increases risk of collision by 2.8 times.
  • Talking or listening increases risk by 1.3 times.
  • Reaching for a device increases risk by 1.4 times.
  • 13 percent of drivers, ages 18-20, involved in car wrecks admitted to texting or talking on their mobile devices at the time of the crash.
  • 10 percent of teens who text while driving spend a considerable amount of time outside their own lanes of traffic.
  • 48 percent of kids ages 12-17 have been in the car while someone who was driving was texting.
  • One in five drivers of all ages confess to surfing the web while driving. Drivers who surf while driving justify their behavior by saying that it is safer to read a text than it is to compose or send one, they hold the phone near the windshield for “better visibility,” they increase the following distance, or they text “only” at stop signs or red lights.

texting 5As part of the Calls Kill campaign, the Council urges drivers to pledge to drive cell free. Drivers who take the pledge will not only increase their safety behind the wheel, but also will be entered into weekly drawings to win prizes including an NSC First Aid, CPR & AED Online course, safety items for kids, and a stuffed animal donated by KidsAndCars.Org.

We hope that this blog post will help you take steps to avoid cell phone use so that you can drive safely. A convenient and affordable way to make sure you are prepared for disasters and emergencies of virtually every kind is to subscribe to the RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services, which has been designed to help improve and save lives. Visit RJWestmore.com to read about the many ways proper planning can make a difference in numerous aspects of your professional and personal life.

Posted in BE SAFE, Disaster Preparedness, Health & Welfare

Don’t Drive Yourself to Distraction

Woman_Distracted_Driving“One text or call could wreck it all” is the slogan for the 2014 Distracted Driving Awareness campaign, which runs through the month of April. According to Distraction.Gov, in 2012, 3,328 were killed in distracted driving crashes, which makes the practice of driving while doing virtually anything else a dangerous epidemic. I guess that means it isn’t good to eat bacon while driving. Bummer.

Since the most effective way to end distracted driving is education, we are devoting this blog post to inform our friends and subscribers about the hazards of this dangerous practice. Distracted driving is any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. I guess I should be glad dogs aren’t allowed to drive. It seems tempting to drive while distracted. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety. Some of these include:

  • Texting
  • Using a cell phone or smartphone
  • Eating and drinking
  • Talking to passengers
  • Grooming (Save this for the groomer!)
  • Reading, including maps
  • Using a navigation system
  • Watching a video (That includes RJWestmore Training System videos!)
  • Adjusting a radio, CD player, or MP3 player

Although each of the above activities is dangerous while driving, text messaging is the most alarming distraction because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention of the driver.

In support of National Distracted Driving month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has planned a number of activities. The first is a national, highly visible enforcement campaign for distracted driving, called U Drive. U Text. U Pay.  Who knew that avoiding distracted driving can help your budget? Throughout the month of April, public service announcements and commercials will appear in English and Spanish on television, radio and in digital advertising.

Phone in One HandAs one might guess, the age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is reportedly the under-20 age group. In fact, 16 percent of all drivers younger than 20 who are involved in fatal crashes were reported to have been distracted while driving. Of those drivers involved in fatal crashes who were reportedly distracted, 30- to 39-year-olds had the highest proportion of cell phone involvement. Kids seem to think they are the exception to the rule. But no one can concentrate when they are distracted.

The NHTSA has also developed a robust social media strategy to raise public awareness about the consequences of texting and driving. Focusing on the idea that “If you’re texting, you’re not driving,” the campaign has been designed to engage the target audience of men and women ages 18-34.

While it may seem like a no-brainer to avoid curling your hair or applying mascara or preparing pork chops while you drive, you may be surprised to learn that even hands-free activities can put you at risk when you’re behind the wheel. According to the National Safety Council and Distraction.Gov:

  • The #1 cause of unintentional deaths in the U.S. is car crashes.
  • About 100 people die each day in car crashes in the United States.
  • Up to 90% of all automobile accidents are a result of driver-error.
  • About 26% of all car crashes involve cellphone use (even hands-free).
  • At any given moment, 9% of drivers are talking on cellphones. That’s why I prefer the Twilight Bark.
  • Although the human brain toggles between two tasks, it cannot do two things at the same time.
  • The activity in the area of the brain that processes moving images decreases by up to 1/3 when listening or talking on a phone.
  • Drivers looking out the windshield can miss seeing up to 50% of what’s around them while talking on any kind of a cellphone.
  • New studies show that using voice-to-text is MORE distracting than typing texts by hand. Now, that’s surprising!
  • Engaging in visual-manual subtasks (such as reaching for a phone, dialing and texting) associated with the use of hand-held phones and other portable devices increased the risk of getting into a crash by three times.
  • A quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. 20 percent of teens and 10 percent of parents admit that they have extended, multi-message text conversations while driving.
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

When you drive, remember the Essential Trio of Requirements for Safe Driving include:

  1. Eyes (not paws) on the road
  2. Hands on the wheel
  3. Mind on driving

Paradoxically, passengers do not pose a serious threat to drivers for the following reasons:

  • A passenger is a second set of eyes.
  • Passengers are able to recognize when traffic is challenging, and stop talking as a result.
  • A passenger is able to spot and even point out road hazards.

Now that you understand the risks associated with distracted driving, here is something you can do about it. Take the pledge to keep roadways safe by driving cell-free. Since distracted driving laws vary by state, check out what the regulations are in your region. I’m going to take it. Will you?

When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The best way to prepare for a disaster of any kind is to be aware. Our system is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.