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January 2018 Traffic Safety Newsletter

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A Young Life Lost to Distracted Driving

Our Foundation’s greatest mission is to prevent distracted driving on our roads. It is a senseless epidemic that leads to numerous fatalities. One of the many lives taken too soon by distracted driving was Brian Garlock’s. This is his mother, Tammy’s, story:

 

“Thursday, June 12, 2008 began like any other ordinary day; unfortunately, it didn’t continue that way… As I look down at my wrist to the pink and black bracelet resting there, I am reminded just how quickly things happen. Sometimes one small decision, a mindless choice, really, can alter your life forever. You see, dying changes everything…

 

My husband John and I met for lunch that day; as we waited, his phone rang. He stepped outside to take the call…I assumed it was because of bad reception. It was actually because John couldn’t understand the caller; it was Brian’s friend, trying to tell us our 17-year old son had been in an accident…he was unconscious and bleeding, somewhere in Pineville… Exactly one week earlier, almost to the minute, we had finally given Brian his car…a light blue 2000 Honda Civic; exactly three weeks earlier, he got his full driver’s license. 

 

From the moment John received that telephone call at 11:51 a.m., our life became a waking nightmare. Brian gained his freedom and control with those car keys, and now he was in serious trouble… The greatest fear of every parent was now our reality; he was injured and alone. We were overly aggressive and reckless driving there, desperate to reach him and afraid of what we would find when we did. Brian was taken by ambulance to the closest hospital, and then flown by helicopter to CMC’s main trauma center. In less than two hours, it was all over… The words of the surgeon and the look on his face are burned into my heart and soul… “I’m sorry; your son didn’t make it. He died.” Brian never regained consciousness from the moment of impact; there were no goodbyes. Life as we knew it was over… Our entire family died that day; we are no longer the people we were.

 

It took many months of grieving before we were able to acknowledge a very simple truth. Our beloved son and brother, Brian, lost his life due to a series of seemingly inconsequential decisions that many of us take for granted daily. This horrific chain of events began with a distraction, one that is quite common in our City and beyond. Brian looked down at his cell phone to make a call. He looked up and followed his friend’s truck across oncoming traffic, never looking to the left. His car was struck in the driver’s door by a truck; the force of the collision spun his car around and it was hit again by a second truck in almost the exact same location on the passenger side.

 

This journey through the valley of shadows and sorrow is difficult and never ending; we struggle every day to be strong and carry on without him. In an effort to bring some good from his loss, we decided to give away pink and black silicone bracelets in exchange for a simple pledge: in memory of Brian, don’t use cell phones while driving. Pink was Brian’s favorite color, and he loved to wear calf-high black socks while playing golf or wearing sandals.

 

This trivial token in swirled pink and black is an instant message of a different sort… Our greatest hope is that through sharing Brian’s story, someone will make the wiser choice and ignore their cell phone while driving. If it saves at least one life and another family is spared the pain that is our constant companion, then Brian’s death will not have been in vain. The fact of the matter is this…there is no call, text or anything else on a cell phone so important that it cannot wait until you get where you are going or you can pull safely off the road to decide.

 

Please, please, don’t lose your life over the press of a button. ‘Remember Brian 06-12-08’

With hope,

Tammy Garlock”

 

Take the first step to assure this tragedy never happens again and #DisconnectandDrive.

 

What To Do In The Event Of A Traffic Stop

Do you know what to do in the event that you are pulled over while driving?

 

Unfortunately, most Carolinians do not. Prior to the passage NC House Bill 21 in 2017, it was not required that the driver license handbook and driver education curriculum include information regarding law enforcement procedures during traffic stops and what a motorist should do when pulled over.

 

Thanks to the passage of the legislation, beginning January 1, this addition to the driver license handbook and the driver education curriculum is available to all motorists and is taught in all driver education classes.

 

Next time you go to the DMV to renew your license, pick up the free driver license handbook so that you can receive the latest up-to-date information on traffic laws. But for between now and then, here are the three steps that typically occur during a traffic stop and tips on what you should do as the motorist.

 

Step 1: Pulling Over – How you pull over when you see those flashing lights behind you may determine how the traffic stop goes.

  1. Communicate to the officer that you see them and that you are working to pull over. Slow your vehicle down and put on your turn signal.
  2. Slowly pull over, in a safe location, out of traffic.
  3. Put your vehicle in park – with your foot off the brake pedal.
  4. Remain in the vehicle, unless otherwise instructed.
  5. Turn your radio down to zero volume.
  6. Roll your window down all the way.
  7. Keep your safety belt fastened.
  8. At night: turn your interior light.

 

Step 2: The Officer Approaches your Vehicle. Officers must be ready at all times for the driver to pose a threat, which is why it is important for you to present yourself as low-risk.

  1. Position your hands at “10 & 2” on your steering wheel or extend them out your window.

 

Step 3: Conversations with the Officer. Although you want to know why you were pulled over, first the officer must know who they’re dealing with for their safety. Allow the officer to start the conversation.

  1. Follow the officer’s instructions.
  2. Answer all questions truthfully.
  3. Be patient about learning why you were pulled over – you’ll get the answer.
  4. Reach for your license and other documents slowly, and only after the officer asks you to provide them. If they are not in your glove box, tell the officer that you are reaching to the back to retrieve them.
  5. Be honest, courteous and polite.
  6. If you have a weapon in your vehicle, you are required to tell the officer what it is and where it is located.

 

Traffic stops can be dangerous for all parties involved if not done properly. It is important to always remain calm and polite when interacting with an officer.

 

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

With the start of a new year comes the opportunity to set the bar high in achieving new goals. In addition to the usual plans to lose weight or spend more time outdoors, AAA Carolinas hopes you will pledge to be a better driver.

 

AAA Carolinas created a list of resolutions for motorists to pledge to follow in order to make our roads a safer place to drive:

 

  1. Disconnect and Drive. One out of every five traffic deaths involves distracted driving. Put your phone away in 2018. Don’t check emails, texts or social media. Don’t eat behind the wheel or groom yourself while driving.
  2. Don’t Drink and Drive. Always have a designated sober driver in place before drinking takes place. Commit to downloading a ride-sharing app such as Uber or Lyft – which are handy services that are easy to use and offer special features like extra large vehicles and vehicles for those needing special assistance.
  3. Wear your Seatbelt. This is the simplest pledge that can make the greatest difference. 50 percent of those involved in a crash that are  not wearing a seatbelt are killed. Use your seatbelt at all times and make sure you are teaching your children to do the same.
  4. Obey Speed Limits and Understand Road Conditions. Always adhere to the posted speed limit as speeding is a factor in almost one third of all traffic related deaths. At the same time, understand the conditions of the road in each situation. If you deem the roads to be unsafe, for example if they are icy or wet, go slower than the limit to prevent a crash. Drive to the conditions.
  5. Share the Road. Always scan the road for pedestrians, bicyclists and animals. Slow your vehicle as you approach them.
  6. Have a Conversation with your Teen. Teen drivers are one of the most vulnerable groups on the road. Talk to your teen about all of the distractions and dangerous factors they are facing and how to combat those to get to their destination safely every time.
  7. Protect your Vehicle. Perform regular tire checks and routine maintenance to ensure your car runs smoothly on the roads.

 

Take the pledge in 2018 to be a better driver by adhering to these simple resolutions to ensure safer roads for everyone in the Carolinas.

 

For more seasonal traffic safety tips and community news in the Carolinas, please subscribe to AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety e-newsletter. By following this link, you will be entered to receive an email each month with timely traffic safety tips and happenings.

 

Winter Weather Driving Tips

As the temperature drops, the chance of ice or snow on the roads rises. With winter weather on the horizon, AAA Carolinas is providing motorists with tips for driving in wintery conditions.

 

  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. When you get into your car for that morning commute, make sure to reverse it out of the garage before idling it to defrost the windshield and heat up.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Never use cruise control when drivng on any slippery surface.
  • Always look and steer where you want the vehicle to go.

 

Adhere to the following tips when driving in the snow or ice:

 

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids.
  • Increase your following distance behind vehicles to allow for more distance if you need to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads causes your wheels to spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. Then, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. It is very difficult to try to get your vehicle moving up a hill on an icy road.

If you have plans to drive long-distance and may encounter winter weather on your route, the following tips are for you:

  • Consult weather reports prior to your trip. Delay your trip when especially bad weather is expected. Let others know your route, destination and ETA.
  • Pack your phone, blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle in case you have to pull over.
  • If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm – it is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in snow and become lost.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible to assist rescuers in finding you.
  • Make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud.  A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Use whatever is avaiable to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  • If possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

 

If you would like more information, please click here for a downloadable and printable “how to go on ice and snow” packet.

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