On Safe Driving

On Safe Driving

We often talk about what we as pedestrians and bicyclists can do to stay safe on our streets, but what can we, as drivers, do? Here are some tips and links to helpful information:

• Remember that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege, not a right. Keep in mind that about 40K people get killed every year in the U.S. in traffic violence, and many more are injured. Driving a car is a huge responsibility. Knowing how to drive safely is extremely important. Consider taking a driver’s class to get refreshed on driving skills and stay familiarized with new street designs if needed. Be sure to be well acquainted with the law. Learn more at https://www.dmv.ca.gov/.
• Speeding is a leading cause of death and injury on Alameda’s streets. Don’t do it. Plan ahead and give yourself extra time so you don’t feel rushed.
• Failure to yield is another leading cause of death and injury on Alameda’s streets. Yield the right-of-way as required by law. When in doubt, yield the right of way anyway. Their safety is worth the extra few seconds of delay.
• Don’t drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
• Always maintain full attention on driving. Distracted driving is very dangerous. Even talking can be distracting. Learn about what distracted driving is, and how to avoid it.
• Be aware of blind spots in your vehicle, like the A-pillar blind spot.
• If conditions are sub-optimal (rain, darkness, fog, glare), adjust your driving habits so you have more reaction time, or consider not driving at all. Be aware of how aging impacts your vision and driving skills, too. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help minimize the issues around challenging conditions, from policedriver.com:
• Adjust your speed to the range of your headlights.
• Keep your eyes moving; search the edges of the lighted area. Where there are many distracting signs or brightly lit buildings, try to concentrate on street level activities.
• Protect your eyes from glare, which can temporarily ruin your night vision, lead to eyestrain and drowsiness. Wear good sunglasses on bright days and take them off as soon as the sun goes down.
• Keep windshields and headlight lenses clean.
• If you purchase a car, avoid larger vehicles with more mass, taller hoods, big blind spots, and slower braking times, because these are particularly deadly in crashes with pedestrians and smaller, lighter vehicles.
• Many of our streets were designed to optimize fast and inattentive driving, which unfortunately works counter to safety goals. Needed change is coming, but change is never easy. Support our city in making proven street redesign changes that effectively self-enforce slower and more careful driving, like road diets, tighter corners, modern roundabouts, and protected intersections. Support efforts to improve visibility, like daylighting, even if it means loss of parking. Support facilities for more vulnerable users, like protected bike lanes and sidewalk bulb-outs.
• When opening doors, always check for oncoming bicyclists. Learn about the “Dutch Reach.”

If you see things on our streets that need attention (like poor visibility because of broken streetlights or lack of daylighting on corners), use See Click Fix, available as an app or at https://seeclickfix.com/, to report it.

The preceding editorial is from Bike Walk Alameda’s February newsletter. To view Bike Walk Alameda’s newsletters, visit www.bikewalkalameda.org/newsletters.