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


  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 Disaster Preparedness, Travel, Uncategorized

Do you drive while you’re distracted?

Texting While DrivingAccording to the recent Safety In Numbers newsletter released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at any given moment during the day in America, approximately 660,000 drivers are using cell phones or manipulating some sort of electronic device while driving a motor vehicle. Most of them are probably “tweeting” me. In 2011, this dangerous practice has resulted in 3,300 deaths and 387,000 injuries. The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDT) marks April as National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, to call attention to the dangers of distracted driving. It’s time for drivers to put down their cell phones, electronic devices and other distractions such as food and drinks.

According to the NHTSA, while driving:

  • 1 in 2 drivers answers calls
  • 1 in 4 drivers place calls
  • 3 in 5 young drivers answer calls
  • 1 in 3 young drivers place calls
  • 2 in 5 young drivers were observed manipulating a handheld device

The U.S. Dept of Transportation reports that “Drivers who use hand-held devices are 4 times more likely to get into crashes serious enough to cause injuries. Text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. Sending or receiving a text takes a driver’s eyes from the road for an average of 4.6 seconds, the equivalent-at 55 mph-of driving the length of an entire football field, blind. That doesn’t sound very safe.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, “Many drivers do see distracted driving as risky when other drivers do it, but don’t recognize how their own driving deteriorates. We all think we’re the exception. We think, ‘It’s dangerous for others, but I can handle texting or talking on a handheld cell phone without jeopardizing my safety or the safety of others.’”

The bottom line is that the only way to safely drive is to concentrate. So avoid all of these distractions while driving:

  • reaching for a moving object inside the vehicle
  • looking at an object or event outside of the vehicle
  • reading
  • eating
  • applying makeup
  • making gourmet steak dinners (If I drove, it’s what I would want to do)

BE SAFE. If you absolutely have to answer or place a phone call while you’re driving, use a hands-free device or pull over to the side of the road. And don’t minimize the dangers of routines like eating or applying makeup while you’re behind the wheel. No matter the cause, distracted driving exacts a tremendous cost from a wide range of people and their pets.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) notes that driving requires constant and complex coordination between mind and body. Eating bacon requires the same thing. They categorize distractions as anything that undermines a driver’s visual, cognitive and/or manual concentration. To determine whether or not an activity is too distracting to do while driving, consider whether it takes your: eyes off the road (visual) mind off the road (cognitive)  and hands off the steering wheel (manual).

The California Driver’s Handbook also includes cabin navigation as a potential distraction: “Making destination entries on an in-vehicle navigation system, radio surfing for a good song, or adjusting your vehicle’s climate controls are distracting activities that can put you in danger of a vehicle crash or near-crash. The availability of in-vehicle Internet and e-mail access from cell phones, blackberries, and other portable devices are added distractions that increase your risk of a crash if you engage in these activities while driving.”

  • Adjust climate controls, mirrors, radio, seats, etc. before you start to drive.
  • Check email, voicemail, and any other portable devices you have before you begin driving.
  • Take advantage of normal stops to adjust controls but not to text or email.
  • Ask your passenger to adjust the radio, climate control, navigation system, etc. for you.
  • Eat bacon before you leave the house. And when you get back home. And while you’re gone…just not while you’re driving.

To combat the problem, many states are enacting laws—such as banning texting while driving, or using graduated driver licensing systems for teen drivers. In 2009, President Obama issued an executive order prohibiting federal employees from texting while driving for government business or with government equipment. And in October 2010, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted a ban that prohibits commercial vehicle drivers from texting while driving.

The best way to combat the dangers of distracted driving is to opt out of the practice even before the law requires it. After all, when a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives.  The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is an interactive, building-specific e-learning training system which motivates and rewards tenants instantly! It’s a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES!