Heads Up! Phones Down!

Distracted Walking is a growing problem all over the world. Each year, more and more people are injured while walking because of texting, talking or listening to music while on their cell phones. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, there were nearly 6,000 pedestrian fatalities in 2017 as a result of distracted walking. How do we stop this number from growing?

Not looking ahead of you can cause you to trip, fall, or even end up in the hospital with serious injuries. Staying aware of your surroundings, big or small, inside or outside, can help prevent accidents from occurring.

Many pedestrians are losing focus on things happening around them and are putting their safety as well as the safety of others at risk because of being on their cell phones. Too many pedestrians rely on cars stopping for them, which causes the number of cell phone use while walking to go up. It is wrong for pedestrians to assume that motorists will always hear and see them. Too many times motorists are not aware of pedestrians approaching and before anyone realizes, it could be too late.

The simple solution is for pedestrians to stop using phones while walking, anytime – anywhere!  Did you know over half of the distracted walking injuries occur in our own homes?  We need to stay aware of our surroundings at all times.

Don’t become another statistic, instead, put your phone down and keep your head up!

August is National Family Fun Month

August is National Family Fun Month, which means it’s a great opportunity to seize the remainder of summer by spending time with family. Here are some cool activities to help you and your family finish out the summer!

Take a family bike ride. Make sure everyone is wearing properly fitted helmets and all bikes are in good riding condition. Following our A B C Bicycle Safety Checklist is a great way to make sure your bikes are ready to ride.

Going on a last minute family beach trip is not only exciting, but it is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and make sure you apply sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the suns UV rays.

Lace up your sneakers and take a walk with the family. Walking in the park, on the beach, or around your neighborhood is a great way to stay active together. Remember that cars do not always see pedestrians walking, so make sure you look both ways before crossing the street and always be aware of your surroundings.

After a long day at work, the thought of going out can be exhausting. To avoid this, consider having a family movie night.  Pick out your favorite family movie, get the popcorn ready, and enjoy the night together.

The month of August doesn’t have to mean back to school shopping and the thought of summer ending. Instead, spending time with your family is a great way to make the most of summer’s last days.  It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you are safe and are having fun with your family!

Subway System – 25 Years in the Making

Recently, I visited my Mother in Isfahan, Iran.  Isfahan, my hometown, is a metropolitan city in the center of Iran with a regional population of 3.5 million.

The day before I was scheduled to return to the US, I decided to walk downtown and observe the changes that had occurred since I immigrated to the West 22 years ago.  I really wanted to check out the city’s subway system.

From 1982-1992, I was the Deputy Director of the State Transportation Department and Chairman of the Board of Isfahan Traffic Organization.  I was part of the team that worked on the feasibility study for the subway system.

It started with a group of volunteer professionals, including myself, willing to devote our personal time to the dream of a modern transportation system in our town.  We compiled data which documented the urgent need for a subway to supplement the existing but inadequate public transit system, the limited capacity of city streets, and increasing traffic congestion.  With enthusiastic community support, we believed it could happen.  In fact, the National Traffic Council and the Congress supported the project and allocated funding for its construction.

But then, the geopolitical landscape changed.  There was no money to move forward.

I had heard that the subway had finally been completed and opened in October 2015.  The subway system stretches along 7.5 miles of track with 10 stations.  Currently, there is a plan to add about 25 miles and 3 more lines.  Now, I was ready to see it for myself.

The train was on time, and the ride was so quiet and comfortable. The stations look clean and pleasant with beautiful designs of cultural artworks, escalators running to and from the street, good signage and guide maps, and other amenities for riders.  With a feeling of great accomplishment and a little pride, I bought a ticket and took a ride on the subway I never thought would be constructed.

As I rode, I thought of my colleagues, our work, our vision, and our determination all those years ago.  And, I remembered an old saying “Every Accomplishment Starts with the Decision to Try.”

 

Written by Morteza Ansari, KMM Transportation Planner

A B C – Bicycle Safety Check List

Bicycle riding is fun, healthy, and a great way to get some fresh air. Before riding, you should always inspect your bike to make sure all parts are secure and working properly.

A great way to do this is by following our A B C – Bicycle Safety Checklist:

  • Air- Always check the air pressure in your bicycle tires before you start riding. Pushing down with your hands on each tire lets you not only see, but also feel how much air there is and if any air needs to be added.
  • Brakes- Making sure your bicycles brakes work is essential for riding. You can simply check them by pulling the brake handles in and looking to see that your bike does not move when the handles are locked in.
  • Chains- The chains on your bicycle do more than you may think. The chain and cranks need to properly sit on your bike, move smoothly and have no rust. This will ensure that the chain works correctly and that all functions of the bike are possible.

The last thing you need to check before riding isn’t on your bicycle; it’s actually on your head! Wearing a properly fitted helmet not only protects your brain but can save your life. A properly fitted helmet should have no gaps between your temples and brow pads; the chinstrap should be snug and it should only allow one finger to be able to fit under the strap.

Before each bike ride, be sure to follow the A B C – Bicycle Safety Checklist and ride safe and ride worry free!

Sharing the Road ~Together

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians – We all use the roads and we’d each prefer to do so without the other in the way.

Sometimes our own actions or the actions of others around us can put us in danger, especially when it comes to sharing the road. Although it is often unintentional, forgetting basic road etiquette can cause yourself or another harm and injury. Here are some safety tips that every motorist should know about sharing the roads:

  1. Drivers look for pedestrians when making turns, right? So why not take a couple extra seconds to look for a cyclist? The cyclist has the right of way if they are going straight and the driver is turning right.
  2. Pedestrians have responsibilities too. They should always avoid walking distracted.  Keep earbud volume low enough to hear oncoming traffic and do not text and walk.
  3. If you are a driver approaching pedestrians and/or cyclists, wait to pass them until you have a clear view ahead and are sure there’s no oncoming traffic. A little bit of patience could save your life.
  4. Signal your turns and do it in plenty of time. Using turn signals is not only a law for drivers but for cyclists as well. By using hand signals to determine which way you are turning, this can alert drivers, other cyclists, and pedestrians when they see you coming.

When you’re behind the wheel of a vehicle, riding a bike or motorcycle, driving safely should always be your top concern. It’s crucial to know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time you’re on the road.  This will ensure that everyone can travel and stay safe together.

Beat the Summer Heat!

Summertime is best spent by the pool, picnics at the park, beach trips, and family vacations. But keep in mind, along with all of the summers’ delights, it brings the heat, humidity, and dangerously oppressive temperatures!

Too much heat exposure can cause several heat-related illnesses such as heatstroke, heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and even death. According to the National Safety Council, heatstrokes are among the leading causes of death in teens, young adults and the elderly. This is due to excessive heat exposure during work, practices, and sporting events outdoors.

Most cases of heatstrokes can be prevented, but many do not know how to prevent them. Here are some preventative measures to stay safe and to stay cool:

  1. Drink Water, Stay Hydrated. As you lose water from sweating, your body temperature rises, so replacing these fluids is essential to keeping cool on hot summer days. Water isn’t your only option for staying hydrated. Eating fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as cucumbers and berries can do the same thing.
  2. Take Breaks. Taking multiple 5-10 minute breaks to find some shade or air conditioning during your outdoor run, practice or work schedule helps your body cool down and lower its temperature. By doing this, you rejuvenate your body to get the job that you started done.
  3. Dress Light. Wearing light colors and breathable fabrics like cotton or linen, especially on scorching hot days lets your body and pores stay cooler.

Whatever your plans may be on a summers day, remember that the heat can do some damage. By following our preventative measures and being prepared, we can help you beat the heat this summer!

Red, White, and Blue ~ Happy 4th of July!

Fourth of July festivities are celebrated in so many ways, here in New Jersey.  Some mark the holiday by hosting a  barbecue, taking a trip to the beach or lake, seeing a firework show, or taking in a parade.  No matter how or where you celebrate, keep these safety tips in mind.

Hosting a barbecue? Remember to always keep an eye on the grill – before, during, and after grilling.  Keep the grill out in the open, away from the house, tree branches, or anything that could potentially catch fire.

Maybe the Jersey shore or west Jersey Lake is scheduled for the 4th?  Apply sunscreen prior to being exposed to the sun and be sure to stay hydrated.  Reapply after several hours in or out of the water.  Whether in the ocean or lake, obey all warnings and safety messages – especially rip current warnings at the shore!

If fireworks are a part of your Fourth of July tradition, remember to park or stand in designated areas.  If you are tailgating and the venue allows alcohol, please drink responsibly and designate a driver.  Remind children to be aware of their surroundings too. And most importantly, steer clear of any fireworks that may have misfired.

No matter what you do or where you go this 4th of July, remember that most roads may see more traffic. Be mindful of others on the road, watch your speed, don’t use your cell phone while driving and most importantly, do not drink and drive.  If you are taking mass transit, remember that some trains and buses run on holiday schedules so be sure to check before you leave.

Enjoy the Fourth of July, have fun, stay safe and celebrate America’s birthday!

Stop! Before you go!

Doesn’t it seem that everyone on the road is in a rush to get somewhere?  Some are in such a hurry that they even disobey stop sign laws!

Recently, we have been noticing (and commuters have shared with us) that drivers are not completing full stops when approaching stop signs.  Many drivers tend to approach a stop sign, slow down, and then round off the turn without completely stopping. This is illegal and extremely dangerous!   Stop signs are put in place for everyone’s safety. Not only for the safety of the driver but for the safety of pedestrians, cyclist, and all others as well. Driving or rolling through a stop sign endangers everyone at the intersection.

Need to brush-up on stop sign laws?  Here is what you need to know:

  1. Come to a complete stop at a stop sign. The law specifies drivers need to stop “within five feet of the nearest crosswalk or stop line marked upon the pavement at the near side of the intersecting street.”
  2. Yield to the person on the right if you both arrive at the intersection at the same time.

It is everyone’s duty at the stop sign to follow the laws set in place.  Reaching your destination, despite how late you are, is not worth an accident.  Come to a complete stop at a stop sign.  For your safety and the safety of others!

Happy National Selfie Day!

June 21st is National Selfie Day! It’s a cinch to participate in this holiday. Just pose, snap, and post.

But most importantly, take that selfie safely.  Here’s how:

If you take a trip to the beach, getting the waves crashing behind you is a great way to show how you are spending your summer day.   Be sure to scan the area for any riptides and heed any lifeguard warnings.  Hold on tight to your phone too.  That wave crashing behind you can be far stronger than you think!

If you are going for a bike ride, the possibilities are endless of what you can share – action shots, landscapes, and your very cool bike gear.  While all these shots can be epic, it’s smarter to pull over and snap that picture than to take the picture while biking.

Spending the day walking with co-workers for lunch or dinner alfresco with friends? There is plenty to capture and share too.  Just remember to not snap and post that perfect selfie while walking.

Most importantly be aware of your surroundings.  That big smile you’ll post on social media for all to see should be fun and worry-free.   So snap that pic, and Get your Selfie on!

Summer Pet Safety

It’s a beautiful, sunny day and you just spent part of your day tossing tennis balls to your furry friend at the park. Heading home, you realize you need to pick up a few things from the supermarket; it should only take about five minutes. Sure, the sun is shining and it is about 80 degrees, but it will only be a few minutes, so there is no harm in leaving your friend in the car, right?

WRONG. You never leave your pet in a car on a warm day.

Every year, hundreds of pets die from heat exhaustion as a result of being left in parked cars on warm days.  On a 75-degree day, the inside of a parked car can climb to 110 degrees in only minutes. In 20 minutes on a 90-degree day, the same car can get up to 130 degrees inside which is unsafe for humans and animals. You may think cracking the windows will help your pet, but the truth is that opened windows make very little difference to the inside temperature of your car.

Heatstroke is the main danger for pets in hot cars. Animals can sustain brain damage or even die from heatstroke in just 15 minutes. Beating the heat is extra tough for dogs because they can only cool themselves by panting. If they are stuck in a hot car, the cool air they receive is little to none and makes cooling down much harder.

Like most busy pet parents, you may be pressed for time and think that surely it’s okay to leave your pet for just a few minutes. The excuses: “Oh, it will just be a few minutes while I go into the store,” or “But I cracked the windows…” do not amount to much if your pet becomes seriously ill or dies from being left in a car.

If you love your furry friend as much as they love you, rethink leaving them in the car the next time you are out on a warm, sunny day.