Gary Rademacher D.C., CCST

Top 19 Driving Safety Tips

Hopefully you all are enjoying the beautiful Colorado weather! We are currently in the peak time of year for road trips, so I thought that Downtown’s Healthcare should share with you some of the top safety tips when it comes to driving on our Colorado roads.

Before jumping into the top safety tips, let’s look at the current Colorado accident scene:

At least 605 people died on Colorado’s roadways in 2016, including an all-time high 125 motorcyclists and a 15-year high, 84 pedestrians and 16 bicyclists. The overall number of deaths is an 11 percent increase over 2015, when 547 people died on the state’s roadways.

Colorado’s top transportation official on Tuesday blamed a spike in state roadway fatalities last year on an “epidemic of distracted driving,” saying motorists need to take responsibility for their safety and the safety of other drivers.

“Ninety percent of crashes are a result of human error,” Bhatt said. “That’s why we don’t call them accidents, we call them crashes.”

“Each and every person needs to take that personal accountability,” said Col. Scott Hernandez, chief of the Colorado State Patrol. “Please help us drive these numbers down. It’s staggering to lose a life and the number over 600 — we have to work together to drive that down.”

Hernandez and Bhatt also encouraged the public to remember to wear seat belts. They pointed to the 186 unrestrained people killed in Colorado crashes last year.

Hopefully the following safety tips will allow for a great travel experience and allows you to enjoy the beauty of Colorado!

Top Safety Tips:

Before beginning a long drive, always get enough sleep and eat a snack or meal. Highly caffeinated beverages are not necessarily the best way to stay awake while driving. While initially you will feel more alert, the effects can recede with time, and your attention may wander although you remain awake.

Pull over and take breaks every couple of hours, even if you don’t feel sleepy. Grab a snack, get some fresh air and stretch your legs by walking around. If you need to, take a quick nap.

If you can, share the driving responsibilities with someone else. This will allow you to keep an eye on each other while driving and also enable you to nap without losing time. If you’re driving alone, turn on the radio or put on some music, and keep your window cracked open. You may want to refrain from using your cruise control if you’re driving alone at night — having to concentrate on maintaining your speed can help you stay awake.

If you do have to pull over, move your vehicle off the road. Never park on the shoulder or in the breakdown lane for any reason except an emergency.

Stay off of your cell phone while driving! Statistically, distracted driving due to cell phone use is causing a sharp rise in car crashes.

If you don’t know this one, shame on you. Never drink any alcohol before your trip. While you may not become intoxicated from one beer, you will become sleepy.

Keep an eye on the skies, and if you can, plan a route around inclement weather. A minor detour could actually wind up saving you major time.

Use a smartphone app such as Waze or Google Maps to guide you around traffic jams.

Not even a GPS app is infallible, especially in remote areas, so we recommend bringing a detailed map or road atlas as a backup just in case.

If you are driving a rental vehicle, familiarize yourself with the car and all of its equipment (horn, brakes, hazard lights).

Lock all of your valuables (especially items that are clearly gifts) in the trunk or glove compartment and stow all luggage in the trunk.

Before setting off on a long car trip, be sure your vehicle is in prime condition — that tires are properly inflated, all fluids are at their proper levels and you have a full tank of gas. (For particularly long road trips, you may want to have your mechanic do a more thorough check.)

Consider becoming a member of AAA or CAA, or signing up for your car insurer’s roadside assistance program. You won’t regret it when your car breaks down on a lonely back road.

Keep costs down by conserving gas as you drive. Minimize sudden starts and stops, empty your car of all unnecessary weight, and slow down — in most cars it takes much less fuel to drive 55 miles an hour than it does to drive 70.

Don’t wait until your gas gauge is sitting on E to refuel. On an unfamiliar road, you never know when the next gas station will appear. As soon as you hit a quarter of a tank, start looking for a place to fill up. (Smartphone apps such as GasBuddy and Gas Guru can help.)

When traveling with kids, be sure to stop often — not just for snacks and potty breaks, but also for fun. See a cool playground along the way? Pull over and throw a Frisbee around. You’ll also want to pack toys, books and music for the car — not to mention your motion sickness remedy of choice.

Feeling munchy? Stock up on snacks and drinks at grocery stores rather than gas stations or convenience stores — you’ll get a wider and healthier selection, as well as better prices.

On longer trips, keep napkins, plastic ware and a small cooler handy for meals on the go. You’ll also want some spare change for tolls, as well as a first-aid kit, flashlight, pillow and blanket. Keep a set of jumper cables, a spare tire or donut, and extra fluids for the car (such as windshield wiper fluid) in your trunk.

This last tip should go without saying, but it’s important enough that we’ll say it anyway: Make sure everyone in the car buckles his or her seat belt. Not only will it keep you safe, but in most places it’s also the law.

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