With Spring already here, many of us are looking forward to spending more time outdoors. Many schools will be letting out in the next couple of weeks. There will be many children going to and from, and participating in, outdoor activities throughout the day. Adults, too, are taking advantage of the longer daylight hours, so let us all commit ourselves to stay alert and safe. Here are some safety tips for drivers I urge you to follow:
- The last week of school is an exciting time for children, and they may become preoccupied and forget the rules of the road. Use extra caution when driving through school zones.
- During those last few days of school, be aware that kids may arrive or leave school at different times throughout the day.
- Remember that playground speed limits remain in effect year-round. Observe carefully when driving around playgrounds and parks. Small children are less predictable and harder to see than adults.
- Watch for clues, a hockey net or ball in the road or on the sidewalk can mean kids are playing nearby. Pay attention and constantly anticipate the unexpected.
- Always watch for small children as you’re backing up. Walk around your vehicle to ensure no kids or pets are behind it.
- As you make your deliveries you will see children that would normally be in schools on bikes, skateboards, walking, etc. in parking lots, shopping centers, and crossing streets.
A single-vehicle accident is any driving mishap where only one vehicle is involved. This can include veering off the road and hitting a tree, a rollover crash, or damage caused by animals or debris on the road. Bad weather, poor visibility, and distracted driving can all be contributing factors, so drivers must be alert when they take the wheel. Advances in technology can be both positive and negative when we discuss distracted driving.
Now is a good time to remind your drivers of the following tips:
- Prepare for your trip before you turn the key. Many things can slow you down en route to your destination, so it pays to spend some thoughtful preparation time to help ensure safe travels
- Check the weather report. If you cross county or state lines, you may experience changes in weather patterns. Be prepared to handle rain, snow, or other conditions that may affect your ability to drive
- Start safely. Get familiar with the vehicle controls and adjust any settings, as needed. These include seat position, mirrors, and steering wheel. Also, always keep your seat belt fastened while driving
- Allow more time to travel. This will reduce your urge to speed up if you are slowed by unpredictable circumstances
- Turn your headlights on. Not only does it enhance your vision, but it also helps others to see you
- Stay focused to help avoid distractions. Distracted driving can rob your ability to react quickly. Stay focused on the road, including what you can see in front of you and in your mirrors. Prepare for anticipated distractions like money for a toll booth, mealtimes, or the need to reach for sunglasses. Refrain from eating, drinking, and smoking while driving whenever possible.
- Monitor your surroundings. As you drive, be mindful of lane changes, traffic signs, and signals, curves, road work, and pedestrians. Seeing a situation develop early will give you more time to react, if necessary.
- Turn off your cell phone. Operating a CMV with a NON-Hands-free cell phone is a federal and in most states a violation. Even a phone that is on sitting on the passenger seat can be a distraction as it emits sounds and vibrations distracting the driver's attention. Approximately five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s like driving the length of a football field blindfolded
Take a break. If you’re feeling drowsy or have a task that cannot wait, pull the vehicle over to a safe spot out of the way of traffic.
- Monitor conditions to reduce the risk of losing control. A safe driver monitors road conditions constantly and is ready to make adjustments. Knowing how to handle your vehicle in a variety of situations helps reduce the risk that you’ll be involved in an accident.
- Note how road materials affect traction. Asphalt can be more slippery than concrete or gravel due to its petroleum content, especially when covered with rain or snow.
- Be especially careful on sharp curves and steep inclines. These conditions make vehicle handling more difficult. Also, be wary of the dangers caused by soft shoulders and potholes.
- Slow down. Driving at speeds above the posted limits makes it easier to lose control of your vehicle, harder to recover, and robs you of critical reaction time.
- Beware of standing water and wet leaves. Maintaining moderate speeds is especially important in these conditions, as it helps to avoid braking fast and skidding.
- And….Get plenty of Sleep
DOT Issues Final Rule to Allow Use of Oral Fluids for Drug Testing
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a final rule allowing motor carriers to use oral fluid samples instead of urine for drug testing of commercial truck drivers and other transportation workers.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which establishes standards for all federal drug testing programs, has determined that testing of oral fluids is as reliable and accurate as testing of urine samples. Moreover, oral fluid testing reduces the risk of substituted or adulterated samples because the collection technician observes all collections of oral fluids, taken with a mouth swab.
The rule will not go into effect until DHHS certifies at least two laboratories to conduct oral fluids testing—one lab to conduct the screening and confirmation drug testing on the primary specimen and a different HHS-certified laboratory to conduct the split specimen drug testing on the secondary specimen, if the employee requests split specimen testing for a non-negative result.
The rule has procedures for handling “dry mouth,” where the worker cannot provide a saliva sample, simile to the “shy bladder” procedures for urine sample collections. The sample custody and control procedures will be like established urine testing protocols.
Finally, authority to test hair samples as another alternative to urine sample testing under the federal drug testing programs is awaiting publication of final procedural guidelines from DHHS. Once that agency issues a final rule on hair testing standards (the proposal was published in September 2020), the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is expected to adopt those standards to allow employers to use hair samples for drug testing of CDL drivers.
May is National Bicycle Safety Month
Every day, countless individuals of all ages bicycle along America’s sidewalks and streets. This form of transportation is good for the environment and physical health and is cheaper than owning and operating a vehicle.
This May, NHTSA wants our community to protect its bicyclists by being responsible and conscientious motorists. We also want our bicyclists to practice smart riding habits by riding safely and always wearing helmets.
It’s important to remember that while driving and riding bikes are privileges, arriving safely to your destination is a right:
- In 2020, there were 938 bicyclists killed - a 9% increase from 2019 - and an estimated 38,886 injured in traffic crashes in the United States.
Click here to get our campaign materials.
On behalf of the NHTSA team, thanks for your proactive support of bicycle safety.