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August 2018 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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The Dangers of Putting Your Feet on the Dash

Riding in vehicles can get uncomfortable, especially on long road trips, but failing to sit properly (such as putting your feet up on the dash) can result in grave consequences in the event of a crash.

 

Airbags are designed to protect the chest and upper body from impact at the time of a crash. They use a small explosive charge to detonate and release gas to fill the airbag. Due to their power, it is recommended that passengers keep a 10-inch distance between themselves and an airbag. When passengers ignore this warning and do something like put their feet up on the dash, complications can arise.

 

One Georiga woman can attest to the terrible consequences suffered from this dangerous behavior. Audra Tatum, a mother of three from Walker County, broke her ankle, femur, arm and nose when the airbag sent her leg and foot flying backwards as she sat in the passenger seat. The rest of her family only endured scrapes and bruises. She now spends her time educating others on the importance of sitting properly in their seat and keeping the suggested distance from airbags.

 

Many passengers believe they will have time to move their feet off the dash before impact, but crashes often happen out of nowhere and airbags inflate in less than 1/20th of a second – or 100 to 220 mph.

 

MythBusters, a science TV show that aims to prove or debunk myths, conducted an experiment using a synthetic cadaver as a passenger with its legs propped on the dashboard. The results on the video when the airbag deployed were shocking to watch.

In addition to keeping your feet off the dash, it is crucial that all passengers are properly restrained before the vehicle hits the road. When safety belts are worn, chances of fatal injury are reduced by 45 percent. Remember:

  • Sit up straight with your back firmly against the back of the seat.
  • The lap belt should fit snugly across your hips and not be allowed to ride up onto your abdomen.
  • After fastening the lap belt, be sure to take up any slack.
  • NEVER place the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.
  • On many vehicles, there is a mechanism to adjust the shoulder height of the safety belt – take advantage of this to position the belt for optimum comfort.

 

AAA Urges Seniors to Begin Planning for “Driving Retirement”

Nearly 83 percent of older drivers report never speaking to a family member or physician about their safe driving ability, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Of the small percentage of families who do have the often difficult conversation, 15 percent do so after a crash or traffic infraction has occurred- which could be too late. Many older drivers are at greater risk of death and injury if involved in a crash.

 

In 2016, more than 200,000 drivers ages 65 and older were injured in a traffic crash and more than 3,500 were killed. With seniors outliving their ability to drive safely by an average of seven to 10 years, families should not wait to talk about safety.

 

For this reason, we are urging senior drivers to begin planning for “driver retirement” at the same time as retirement from work.

 

“There’s no perfect age to determine when it’s time to stop driving,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety President. “Understandably, many drivers can be hesitant to initiate these difficult conversations about their driving ability, so it is important that families are proactive in starting these discussions – because with proper planning, elderly drivers might be able to safely stay behind the wheel longer.”

 

AAA recommends that families start talking with older adults about safe driving early and avoid waiting until there are “red flags” like crashes, scrapes on the car (from bumping into garages, signs, etc.), new medical diagnoses, or worsening health conditions. It is helpful to begin discussions when an older driver starts planning for other life changes, like retirement from work or moving to a new home. When talking to an older driver, families should:

  • Start early and talk often: Be positive, be supportive and focus on ways to help keep them safe when behind the wheel, including other forms of transportation available to older drivers.
  • Avoid generalizations: Do not jump to conclusions about an older driver’s skills or abilities.
  • Speak one-on-one: Keep the discussion between you and the older driver. Inviting the whole family to the conversation can create feelings of alienation or anger.
  • Focus on the facts: Stick to information you know, like a medical condition or medication regimen that might make driving unsafe. Do not accuse an older driver of being unsafe or assume that driving should be stopped altogether.
  • Plan Together: Allow the older driver to play an active role in developing the plan for their driving retirement.

 

It is important that families have a plan to help keep the older driver on the road for as long as safely possible. Past research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that older adults who have stopped driving are almost two times more likely to suffer from depression and nearly five times as likely to enter a long-term care facility as those who remain behind the wheel. Families can use the AAA Driver Planning Agreement as a guide to starting conversations about safety. The agreement allows families to plan together for future changes in driving abilities before they become a concern.

 

For more information on AAA resources for older drivers, such as RoadWise online/classroom courses or other programs that help seniors better “fit” with their vehicles, visit www.SeniorDriving.AAA.com.

 

The Dangers of the “In My Feelings” Challenge

AAA Carolinas is urging motorists to avoid partaking in the #InMyFeelingsChallenge while operating a motor vehicle.

 

The challenge, which involves dancing alongside a moving vehicle while Drake’s song “In My Feelings” plays was started in June by social media comedian Shiggy. Since then, there have been multiple injury reports from participants falling out of a moving vehicle or getting hit by passing traffic.

 

AAA Carolinas warns that this trend is dangerous for all parties involved, including those doing the dance in the street as traffic flies by, those recording it on their phone while also attempting to drive and those getting out of a moving vehicle.

 

“You put your life and the lives of everyone on the road in danger by engaging in this dangerous challenge behind the wheel,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas Spokesperson. “Surprisingly, no one has died from the injuries suffered while doing this challenge, but it shouldn’t take a death to make motorists realize the fatal consequences of this viral craze and remind them of the importance of keeping their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road.”

 

The distractions created by the In My Feelings Challenge are endless and come with severe consequences.

 

In Iowa, a teen is recovering in the intensive care unit from a fractured skull due to falling out of the car in an attempt to do the challenge at a round-a-bout. Another woman was robbed while attempting the challenge.

 

Those caught participating in this global phenomenon could face legal action. For example, in Florida, violators face a $1000 fine for exiting a moving vehicle.

 

AAA School Safety Patrol Program

You know the drill. School pick-up and drop-off can be chaotic. Kids are moving in all directions; parents are in a hurry. And amidst the craziness, school buses try to make their way in and out of the school grounds. How can we ensure that our children are kept safe in this type of heavy traffic?

 

The AAA School Safety Patrol Program has helped communities improve school safety for 98 years. It relies on student volunteers to assist their classmates at crossings, carpool drop-off areas and bus loading and unloading zones.

 

The largest safety program in the world, the AAA School Safety Patrol Program has 654,000 Patrollers in 34,500 schools nationwide. The program has been praised by education and safety groups around the world for reducing injuries and fatalities among school children. In 1949, AAA established the AAA Lifesaving Medal to recognize Patrollers who saved a life in the course of duty. To date, 428 Patrollers have received this award.

 

Patroller Benefits:

  • Teaches real world skills, including teamwork, responsibility, problem-solving and communication.
  • Creates positive role models.
  • Establishes early positive relationships with law enforcement.
  • Instills a deep understanding of road safety.
  • Develops leaders who will stand out among their peers for their role.
  • Serves as a starting point for many of the nation’s future leaders. A list of alum can be found here.

 

Patrol Requirements:

  • Complete patrol training.
  • Always be prompt.
  • Wear your patrol belt or vest to your assigned station.
  • Be polite and respectful to parents and students.
  • Set a good example for your classmates.
  • Keep a passing grade in conduct.
  • Adhere to the safety standards to ensure your own safety and the safety of your peers relying on your guidance.

 

If you would like more information about the AAA School Safety Patrol, click here. If you would like to register your child’s school or send the registration link to a school staff member, click here.

 

AAA Approved Drive! Driving School

This month, we are highlighting AAA Approved Drive! Driving School. Owned and operated by Johanna Newman, Moorseville North Carolina’s own Drive! Driving School centers on safe driving habits, awareness of other motorists on the road and creating a confidence needed to navigate any situation.

 

Newman herself is one of the driving instructors. Holding a Masters in Education and having been an educator for 15 years in Mooresville schools, she thoroughly understands the methodology behind teaching someone a new skillset, such as driving. A mother of three, Newman also understands the challenges associated with teaching teens and students and is well-prepared for each set of students she mentors.

 

Drive!’s Teen Programs:

Drive! trains the drivers of tomorrow in its teen classes. It offers both the classroom training and the behind-the-wheel action as well and teens can sign up for one or both. Instructors ensure that the class remains engaging to hold the attention of the students. The hands-on training is done in a variety of settings and conditions to give young drivers a feel for everything they may experience on the roads. Classes are scheduled after school and on weekends, but Drive! is flexible with those students with other obligations and can even schedule time before school to meet.

 

Drive!’s Adult Programs:

Drive! works with adults of all ages as well as first-time drivers. The program integrates traditional instruction and behind-the-wheel sessions with calming techniques to help students feel assured in all settings. Private instruction is offered as needed.

 

Drive’s Driver Improvement Programs:

When a motorist receives a driving ticket, in many instances, they are able to complete a course to reduce fines or points from the license. This course teaches motorists about the newest traffic laws, effective safety behind the wheel, and can serve as a wonderful refresher for those who may have forgotten some of the rules of the road.

 

To contact Drive! Driving School for more information or to register for a class, click here.

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