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Friday, December 6, 2019

August 2019 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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NEW RESEARCH FINDS PROTECTED BIKE LANES CAN STILL LEAD TO DANGER

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 15, 2019) – A recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study found that cyclists are still vulnerable to injury and crashes even when riding in protected bike lanes.

 

“Protected bike lanes, though they’re separated from the road by physical barriers such as trees or parked cars, can make a cyclist feel safer because they’re separated from flowing traffic, but that sense of security leaves cyclists vulnerable to cars backing out of driveways or alleys on the side away from traffic,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This new research from IIHS will hopefully serve to remind cyclists and motorists to be cautious and aware.”

 

According to the study, although cyclists represent only two percent of road fatalities, bicyclist deaths have increased 25 percent since reaching their lowest point in 2010. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with motor vehicles in 2017.

 

Studies done on regular bike lanes, those that are only separated from traffic by painted lines, have inconclusive results regarding safety.

 

It also revealed that protected bike lanes prove to be much safer to bicyclists when they are enclosed by a bridge separation or greenway than when they are simply disconnected from a major road, because those on roadways are still susceptible to intersections and hidden driveways.

 

When IIHS examined the crashes that have occurred in protected bike lanes, it found that most involved minor injuries. Cyclists in protected bike lanes most often were seen colliding with vehicles in intersections and driveways, which are usually traveling at a very slow speed.

 

The study found that protected bike lanes work in preventing the most serious injuries in the event of a crash, but city planners should still try to integrate these types of lanes in areas with fewer junctions and should consider raised cycle crossings, which improve safety and visibility.

 

AAA Carolinas Opens Doors to First-Ever Car Wash

AAA Carolinas opened its first car wash – Fins – in Greenville, South Carolina late July.

 

Fins Car Wash is an automatic car wash focused on providing fast and remarkable washes. It differs from other car washes because of its state-of-the-art, low-stress loading system that eases and enhances motorists’ car wash experience. It is also equipped with heated blowers, which have been proven to be the most effective method of drying vehicles. Fins Car Wash is in the process of opening multiple locations across the Carolinas and Greenville was its first.

 

“We are very pleased with the look and feel of our first Fins location,” said Greg Ries, Senior Vice President of Fins. “The Greenville community has welcomed us with open arms and we are so excited to begin this journey in a city as wonderful and vibrant as Greenville.

 

The car wash is open to members and non-members alike, but members receive a discount.

 

To usher in the new facility and to give back to the community while doing so, Fins held a charity event called Washes for Wishes. For one entire weekend top washes were given out for free to everyone who drove through and customers were able to donate to Make-A-Wish South Carolina in return.

 

The three-day event raised $7,400 for the local charity.

 

Of the donation, Amanda Osborne, VP of Mission Advancement of Make-A-Wish South Carolina said, ““We are so pleased about this exciting new partnership with Fins Car Wash and AAA.  Their generous support of Make-A-Wish South Carolina’s important mission to create life-changing wishes for kids who need it is meaningful and considerable. Wishes require community partners to be granted. The staff at Fins Car Wash have been so enthusiastic about this partnership and the impact they can help make for local families that it’s been very inspiring to work with them. We thank their staff and associates, and supportive guests who prove that our community is dedicated to improving the lives of the courageous children facing critical illnesses.”

 

For those of you near the Greenville area, stop in to check us out. For the rest of you, we hope to bring a Fins location to you sometime soon!

 

Back to School Safety Tips

As the new school year begins, AAA Carolinas wants to remind motorists about ways to keep students safe on their way to and from school.

 

Now is the time to check your child’s safety seat, as according to the NCDOT, motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death among children ages 1-19. Children should ride in the backseat until age 13, but even if they are over 13 they must be the appropriate height to use a seatbelt which is at least 4 feet 9 inches. Children should only be given soft toys that will not cause injury in the event of a crash.

 

Approximately 815 students die annually and more than 150,000 are injured during travel between school and home –statistics that do not include special activity trips and other school related journeys. The afternoon hours are most dangerous for walking children. Over the last decade, nearly one-third of child pedestrian fatalities have occurred after school hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.

 

Students going back to school brings school buses back on the roads. On average, there are nearly 3,000 incidents of cars passing stopped school buses every day in North Carolina, according to the NCDOT. Below is a quick refresher of school bus laws for motorists before school starts back:

  • On a two-lane road, all traffic from both directions must stop.
  • On a two-lane road with a center turning lane, all traffic must come to a stop.
  • When on a four-lane road without a median, traffic from both directions must stop.
  • In the case of a divided highway with four or more lanes, only traffic following the school bus needs to stop.
  • When on a road with four lanes or more with a center turning lane, just traffic following the bus must stop.

 

The start of school also means a higher volume of traffic on the roads, so leave earlier for your morning commute and be extra vigilant to and from work.

 

AAA urges motorists to follow these tips for sharing the road:

  • Wait your turn:It is illegal to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. School buses use yellow flashing lights to alert motorists that they are preparing to stop. Red flashing lights and an extended stop sign arm also signal that children are getting on or off the bus.
  • Don’t Drive Distracted: Dangerous practices behind the wheel, like eating, grooming, texting and talking on the phone, take a driver’s eyes off the road and can have devastating consequences. AAA encourages all motorists to put down their mobile devices Disconnect and Drive.
  • Check the medians:Traffic in both directions must stop on undivided roadways when students are entering or exiting a school bus. On a divided roadway, traffic behind the school bus must stop.
  • Extra room:The area 10 feet around a school bus is where children are in the most danger of getting hit. Stop your car far enough from the bus to allow children the necessary space to safely enter and exit the bus.
  • Slow down:During busy weekday commutes, remember to slow down, allow for extra commute time and avoid driving distracted on your way to and from work. Keep in mind that fines are doubled in school zones when signs are present.
  • Don’t cross the line: Drivers should not block the crosswalk when stopped at a red light or waiting to make a turn. Leave pedestrians with plenty of room to cross safely.

 

Fatalities that occur while getting on and off the bus are three times greater than those that occur while riding the bus.  Approximately 100 children in the United States are killed every year while walking to or from school and another 25,000 sustain injuries as a result of school zone collisions.

 

Study Finds Most Dangerous Highway in NC and SC

As we prepare for our final road trips of the summer and get ready to go back to school, it is important that we continue to stay vigilant on the road and practice safety behind the wheel – especially on roads that are prone to a higher number of collisions.

 

In North Carolina, that means paying special attention when driving along I-40, the deadliest highway in the state with 61 fatalities during the summer months over the last three years. I-40 also showed up on the list for other states.

 

For South Carolinians, the most deadly highway is US-17, with 82 fatalities over the same time period. This number shocked researchers because South Carolina ranks in the top 10 for smallest population.

 

The study, conducted by A Secure Life, analyzed three years (2015-2017) of traffic fatalities from May through September to determine the most dangerous summer roads that we travel.

 

I-85 ranked second in North Carolina with 50 fatalities and US-64 came in third with 40. South Carolina’s second most deadly road is I-26, with 51 fatalities and I-9, with 45 fatalities.

 

In preparation for that final summer vacation, AAA Carolinas urges you to be careful, especially on busy highways. Slow down and remember that speeding puts you, your passengers and other drivers at greater risk.

 

For additional safety tips, A Secure Life and AAA Carolinas recommend:

  • Research and plan your route ahead of time. Map out your trip so that you know an accurate travel time as well as traffic patterns. Be sure to check for road closures along your route.
  • Avoid driving on risky days or at risky times. The days leading up to and following major holidays are heavy travel days and should be avoided if possible.
  • Never drive distracted. Keep your eyes and mind on the road. Put the cell phone down. Disconnect and Drive.
  • Always wear a seatbelt and ensure that your passengers do too.
  • Have your vehicle inspected to make sure it is road trip ready.
  • Secure your load. Pack all items inside and outside of the vehicle securely, to ensure nothing falls off or becomes a distraction.

Labor Day Safety

You might be gearing up for that last hoorah over the Labor Day holiday before summer comes to an end. The long weekend is usually celebrated near a body of water with someone grilling out and maybe accompanied by a few drinks. AAA Carolinas urges you to practice safety this year to prevent any accidents.

 

BOAT SAFETY

  • Take boating safety instruction and get a nationally approved boating safety education certificate. Seven out of 10 boating incidents are caused by operator error.
  • Wear a life jacket—always. And make sure every passenger does so as well.
  • Don’t drink for the same reasons you don’t drink and drive on land.
  • Check the weather before you go and keep an eye on it while you’re on the water. Weather can go from delightful to dangerous quickly. So stay safe and get off the water quickly if you see bad weather approaching.
  • Have an emergency kit on the boat (stored safely so it does not become a hazard) equipped with a flashlight, duct tape, a bucket, a first aid kit, a whistle, ropes, a mirror, a fire extinguisher and extra life jackets.
  • Adhere to the boat’s capacity restriction and keep the weight on the boat balanced.
  • Learn the rules of the water and use common sense when operating a boat. Pay attention to the moves of other boaters on the water to avoid collisions or dangerous wake.
  • Don’t forget sunscreen and water and know the signs of heat illness – especially with the extreme heat the Carolinas are having.

 

GRILL SAFETY

  • Keep your grill at least two feet away from flammable structures – such as decks, siding and trees.
  • Keep children away from grills.
  • Properly dispose of hot coals per the instructions of your grill.
  • Never grill indoors or in an enclosed area.

 

POOL SAFETY

  • At the pool, keep a vigilant eye on all small children and avoid distractions that will take your attention away from the pool.
  • Pools should be enclosed completely to restrict access to small children that are unsupervised.

 

DRIVING TIPS

 

Before hitting the road:

  • Ensure your vehicle is properly maintained. Check the battery life, engine coolant and tire pressure.
  • Map your route in advance. Have the directions printed out or designate a passenger to be in charge of phone directions to avoid the distraction behind the wheel.
  • Consider leaving earlier or later to avoid heavy traffic.
  • Keep anything of value in the trunk or hidden in the car so that it is not visible through the windows.
  • If you’re traveling with children, remind them not to talk to strangers on your pit-stops and accompany them to restrooms during stops.
  • Have roadside assistance contact information on hand, in case an incident occurs on the road.
  • Keep a cell phone (fully charged) safely secured in your vehicle for emergency calls.
  • Have an emergency kit complete with water, medicine, snacks, jumper cables and a first aid kit.

 

During the trip:

  • Never drive distracted. Put the phone away. Disconnect and Drive. Avoid behaviors such as eating, applying make-up and adjusting the navigation system while driving.
  • Always wear your seatbelt.
  • Don’t speed. Drive according to the weather and road conditions.
  • With extreme heat projected in the forecast across most of the Carolinas, remember to NEVER leave your children or pets in the car, even for a short amount of time. The vehicle will heat much quicker and to a temperature much higher than outside.
  • If you encounter rain and wet roads:
    • Avoid cruise control (when driving in wet conditions, the chance of losing control of the vehicle increases in cruise control mode)
    • Slow down and leave room. Avoid hard braking or turning sharply and give yourself ample stopping distance between cars by increasing the following distance.
    • If you feel your car begin to skid, continue to look and steer in the direction in which you want the car to go and avoid slamming on the brakes as this will upset balance.
  • Expect heavy traffic and delays, as the roads will be busy. Avoid road rage by using turn signals, maintaining a good distance behind the vehicle in front of you and never engaging in interactions with other drivers. Exercise patience and understanding.
  • Never drink and drive or get in a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.
  • Obey the Move Over Law when passing emergency vehicles on the side of the road.

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