Behind the wheel
Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist
This week Bob Hartness, proprietor of Hartness Driving Academy, is spokesperson providing traffic safety tips and other recommendations for driving security. The Hartness Academy has served Newberry and surrounding areas for 13 years. Dianne and Deborah are instructors. Few people have devoted as much time and intellectual energy to driving. Driving itself, we should remember, requires a base level of mental effort. It is category one! But what happens when you layer other activities on top of driving?
“The worst of the winter season seems to be here this month, but if news is any indication, we are in for a hard winter. I hope readers can use these safety guidelines.”
• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times. These items should include the kit: reflective warning signals, (orange triangles) a blanket, and a first-aid kit.
• Always keep two hands on the wheel. The driving situation can change in a matter of seconds.
• Drive at a slower speed in bad weather to prevent skids.
• If your tire loses traction follow the Off/Off rule. Ease off the accelerator and stay off the brake. Look in the direction you want your vehicle, and slowly steer toward that direction. Avoid any sudden changes in speed or direction.
• In snow or ice maintain a slow steady speed. Avoid as much stopping and turning as possible.
• Carry a bag of sand or cat litter in trunk of your car. Not only will this help cars that get stuck, but the added weight will help preventing hydroplaning and skids
• Avoid emotional conversations inside the car or talking on phone. Distracted driving is the number one cause of crashes. Studies of brain waves show a greater distraction when talking over phone to someone.
• Know local laws and ordinances. While the state legislature has chosen not to pass laws restricting cell phone use, some communities (Beaufort County and the town of Mount Pleasant) have passed local laws restricting cell phone use and texting while driving.
Persons using cell phones and texting have become the state of driving in America, where an estimated 1 in 10 drivers at any one time talks on the phone while driving — the highest rate in he world. You have seen it in the driver who weaves from side to side, or who continuously slows, or who seems mildly surprised to note that the traffic light has turned green.
Dangers of Texting While Driving (TWD)
Texting is a horribly dangerous, selfish and irresponsible thing to do.
“Texting while driving has killed more than 3,000 teens a year,” according to The State. “Forty states ban texting while driving; six more prohibit novice drivers from texting while driving. South Carolina is one of just four states not in either group.”
• In 2010, distraction was the cause of 18 percent of all fatal crashes.
• Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found text messaging creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted.
• 11 percent of drivers ages 18 to 20 who were involved in an automobile accident and survived admitted they were sending or receiving text when they crashed.
• According to the National Highway Safety and Transportation, a 2012 study showed that texting while driving is more dangerous than driving while high on marijuana or other drugs including alcohol.
Distracted driving is the number one killer of American teens. Alcohol related accidents among teens have dropped, but teenage traffic fatalities have remained unchanged because distracted driving is on the rise. (State Farm Insurance Study and NHTSA Study)
So, where does South Carolina stand? At present we are only one of four states that does not have a statewide ban on texting while driving. Twelve municipalities in South Carolina have laws against TWD.
Fines for first offenses for Texting While Driving range from a $10,000 fine and 1 year in jail (Alaska) to a $20 fine in California.
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