Summer's approaching, and with great certainty we can predict there will be an uptick in motor vehicle accidents.
Two factors are at work. More people are on the road and they tend to drive at faster speeds than in the fall, winter or spring. Some are in "vacation mode," so they might be more casual about buckling seat belts or ensuring the children are safely secured in car seats or safety belts. Or, because there are more daylight hours, motorists might risk driving while tired so they can spend a bit more time at their vacation destination.
After a weekend in which six people were killed in automobile accidents on Utah's highways, we are mindful of small steps that can enhance one's safety on the road. Most of it is common sense, if not codified in the state's traffic safety laws: Wear your seat belt and make sure your children are properly restrained in car seats or safety belts. Properly maintain your vehicle. Drive the posted speed limit and follow traffic safety laws. Don't drive when tired or under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or prescription medications.
Traffic safety laws are intended to keep the motoring public safe. Yet, some people drive with the attitude that laws do not apply to them or that they own the road.
Parents of teen drivers need to talk to their children about the special risks of summertime driving. It is not the time for teenagers to load up the car with friends, sans seat belts. New research says young passengers are far more at risk of serious injury or death in a motor vehicle accident with a young teen behind the wheel. Although many teen drivers are conscientious, they lack behind-the-wheel experience in many demanding situations. Teenage drivers and their passengers may think it is passe to wear seat belts, which contributes to many fatal accidents. Each year, traffic accidents kill about 40 Utah teens ages 15-19.
Other bad habits contribute to accidents, too. Drivers need to make driving a full-time responsibility. It is not a time to eat, apply make-up, shave or search the Web on one's Blackberry. Nor is it a time to talk on the telephone. It's a time to concentrate on other drivers, road conditions and one's own driving.