Taking the Keys Away

At some point in time you will feel the concern or even the fear that your parents or elderly friends should no longer drive a vehicle. For anyone, this can be a very difficult and emotional experience. Knowing when its the right time to take away the keys requires important deliberations, considerations and possible actions that you the caregiver will have to face.

The first thing you should know is that a person’s age is not and shouldn’t be the reason for taking away their car keys. There are people in their 80s and 90s who have their licenses and drive actively and safely, while there are others in their 50s and 60s who are dangers to themselves and others when behind the wheel. The physical and mental conditions and the persons abilities are the first factors you need to consider. Driving takes dexterity and strength in both arms and legs/feet to be able to control the vehicle at all times. If your physical ability is off then the whole driving performance will be off too, which can cause an accident.

The second thing you need to consider is if the driver is on any medications or if they have any diseases. Alzheimer’s disease is very common and the driver can become disoriented almost anywhere and severe diabetics may fall into a coma at anytime. Along with these diseases, prescription medications can produce specific changes or functions within the body. Some reactions may be drowsiness and possibly slowing down person’s reaction time, which may effect a person’s ability to drive.

If you aren’t sure how to determine if its time to take away your parents keys, do a ride along with them. Taking a ride with your parent is the best way to observe his or her physical abilities in controlling the vehicle, staying within the lane, how they handle turns, the driving speed, and for any possible confusions in traffic. Make sure that your observations are done without nagging them on or causing a distraction for them. Lastly, be sure that when you finally decide that its time, that you are respectful and understanding when speaking with the driver. This can always be an emotional time for them, so being honest and providing them comfort will help make this experience a lot less stressful.

Back to School Safety

Picture Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx
Picture Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/back-to-school-safety-tips-for-drivers.aspx

With #backtoschool in full swing, many of us have noticed the inevitable; more cars and more congestion.  Back to school means sharing the roads and slowing down. There are school buses picking up kids from multiple stops, kids on bikes are rushing to get to school on time, and parents are trying to drop their kids off before work.

If you are someone who is dropping off your kids to school, make sure that the area is clear before letting them get out of the car. More children are hit by cars/buses near schools than at any other location, according to the National Safe Routes to School program. Before dropping off your kids be sure you are not double parked. This blocks visibility for other vehicles passing by. Do not drop off your kids across the street from their school, even though it may be more convenient for you. Carpooling is also a great way to reduce the number of vehicles around the school, which decreases the chances of a child getting hit.  Don’t block crosswalks- especially when you are stopped at a red light. Be sure to give the pedestrians the right away, whether they are walking or riding a bike. When you are in school zone and flashers are blinking, be sure to come to a complete stop and watch for children. Lastly, do your best to watch out for your children in school zones, playgrounds and residential areas, as well as the other children around them.

During school hours, there will be more and more school buses on the roads. If you are ever driving behind a school bus, you should always allow a greater following distance than you would driving behind a car. This then allows you to have more time to stop once the bus puts on it’s yellow flashing lights. Never pass a school bus if you are stopped behind them while they are picking up children. It is illegal in all 50 states to pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children. Passing a school bus from either direction on an undivided road, can potentially put children who are loading or unloading in danger if they are unaware that you are coming.

We are all responsible – as pedestrians and drivers, to make #backtoschool a safe return!

 

Bike Safety Tips for Kids

Bike riding can be a lot of fun, especially for kids. It’s a way for them to get out of the house and enjoy themselves in the fresh air. However, bike accidents do occur. They can happen pretty often if the child is not paying attention to their surroundings. Every year, about 300,000 kids go to the emergency room because of bike injuries. A majority of the time it’s because they weren’t looking where they were going.

Picture Sources:  http://www.capjournal.com/people/health/riding-for-fun-riding-for-health/article_c11adcaa-690b-5b42-8e26-9fc324360473.html?mode=image&photo=0
Picture Source: http://www.capjournal.com/people/health/riding-for-fun-riding-for-health/article_c11adcaa-690b-5b42-8e26-9fc324360473.html?mode=image&photo=0

In order to fix this problem and for your child to stay safe while riding, here are some bike safety tips for them to follow:

Always wear a helmet. They may not seem like the coolest and most popular item out there, but they can save your life. A bike helmet can be annoying if not fitted properly. Make sure you size the helmet to fit your head. You do not want it too big or too small. Along with the helmet, always wear sneakers. Open toed shoes and sandals can fall off your feet or get stuck in the bike pedal while riding.

If it’s a hot day outside make sure to bring a bottle of water, sunglasses, and use sunscreen. It’s very important to stay hydrated when doing a physical activity- like bike riding. If the sun seems to be out then you should apply some sunscreen to areas of your body where the sun will be hitting them. It’s not worth getting really bad sunburn, even if you are going for a short ride.

Lastly, do not use your phone while riding your bike. Text messages , emails, calls, and the new game “Pokémon GO” can all wait.  Although it seems like fun to use the app while riding, it is a huge distraction. Not looking where you are going can cause an accident and even lead to injuries. Always make sure you come to a complete stop when playing or checking your phone. That way you are aware of your surroundings and are able to get to your destination safely.

Pokemon GO ~ Safety Tips!

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Have you recently noticed gaggles of people walking in groups with their attention focused on the phones in their hand? They seem to be looking for something, find it, and then continue on their way – all without once looking up from their phones? Well, we have answers for you. It’s called
Pokemon GO and although it’s fun to play, it’s a pedestrian safety hazard!

Pokemon GO is an interactive game where users capture Pokemon characters in real-time and actual locations.  If you are like me (40+ years old) this makes absolutely no sense, right?  But bear with me.  The game encourages users to walk around their neighborhoods.  With eyes glued to their handheld device, the screen converts to a camera screen and just feet ahead of them lies a Pokemon character waiting for capture.  The farther and longer they walk, the more characters they can capture.  And the more characters they capture, the more points and levels they earn.

So what’s the harm in this game?  People of all ages are walking more and spending more times in their community. Seems like a terrific idea, right?   After walking close to 12,000K steps following my children around our neighborhood this weekend, the safety issues are plentiful.

Sure ,it was wonderful that my children wanted to walk around town with me, but by the end of our adventure, I was ready to put them on leashes.   They were walking into other pedestrians (some of whom were also playing this game), walking too closely to curbs and nicely manicured bushes and plants, and even walking into crosswalks!  I spent the better part of the walk yelling commands.    It was an “eye”opening experience (pun totally intended)!

(null)As a parent and a from a safety standpoint, I share with you these 3 tips to make your Pokemon GO experience safe.

  1. Although the app suggests its users be 10 years old,  if your children are under the age of 15, I recommend the app be downloaded to YOUR phone. That way, you can join them on their adventure.
  2. Designate one person to hold the phone and the others to navigate the path so as to avoid walking into others, crossing streets without looking and tripping over uneven sidewalks.
  3. Since the app’s release, some users have been lured to secluded places and robbed. Be sure to review the safety features on your profile.  Many features can make the user vulnerable to others finding them since the app is also multiplayer.

The game was just released on July 6, 2016.  Be prepared to see, hear, and learn more about Pokemon GO.  Most importantly, play the game safely and never play the game alone.

 

 

 

 

Employers and Schools Recognized at KMM’s Annual Meeting

wisnewski speakingOver 125 people attended the Annual Membership Meeting of Keep Middlesex Moving, Inc. (KMM) to hear Assemblyman John Wisniewski, Chairman, Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee discuss the looming depletion of the Transportation Trust Fund and his comprehensive plan to remedy the problem.  The May 19 meeting took place at the Forsgate Country Club.

Thirty-Six Middlesex County companies received the prestigious 2016 NJ Smart Workplaces Award.  These awards honor companies for their outstanding achievements in providing commute alternative opportunities for their employees, thus reducing traffic and congestion and improving air quality.  (List featured below)

sponsors“KMM’s programs promote mobility, safety, and sustainability.  But these programs can only be implemented with the help of our partners, like the employers we are honoring with Smart Workplace Awards,” said KMM’s Executive Director William Neary.

Neary recognized the sponsors of the Annual Meeting, Saint Peter’s University Hospital, Johnson& Johnson, Magyar Bank, Provident Bank, GoCentralNJ, Magic 98.3, 1450 WTC and Northfield Bank.

In addition, KMM recognized four Middlesex County schools and one municipality in the NJ Safe Route to School Recognition Program, part of NJDOT’s statewide Safe Routes to School program.  The awards are given based on their commitment and involvement in the Safe Routes to School program. This year, two schools achieved First Step, one achieved Bronze, and two achieved Silver level recognition.  (List featured below.)bookmarkwinnersrts

“The NJ SRTS Recognition Program is a way for KMM to thank our school and municipal partners for their hard work throughout the year making it safer and easier for children and their families to walk and bike to school. We hope that our combined efforts can create a better neighborhood not just for schoolchildren, but for everyone who lives, walks, and bikes in these neighborhoods,” said SRTS Coordinator Peter Bilton.

2016 New Jersey Smart Work Place Recipients

Borough of Sayreville Bronze
Granville Y. Brady Jr. Au.D. P.A. Bronze
Magyar Bank Bronze
Hoagland Longo Moran Dunst & Doukas LLP Bronze
Township of North Brunswick Bronze
Middlesex County Regional Chamber of Commerce Bronze
County of Middlesex Bronze
Northfield Bank Bronze
Wilentz Goldman & Spitzer Bronze
State Theatre Bronze
South Brunswick Township Bronze
Wells Fargo Bronze
Bristol-Myers Squibb Bronze
Middlesex County Workforce Development Bronze
Township of East Brunswick Bronze
Monroe Township Bronze
Piscataway Township Bronze
New Brunswick Parking Authority Silver
Greater Media Silver
Borough of Metuchen Silver
Keep Middlesex Moving, Inc. Silver
City of Perth Amboy Silver
City of New Brunswick Silver
North Brunswick Township High School Silver
St. Peter’s University Hospital Gold
Township of Woodbridge Gold
Hyatt Regency New Brunswick Gold
Firmenich, Inc. Gold
Township of Plainsboro Gold
Township of Edison Platinum
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Platinum
IEEE Platinum
Johnson & Johnson Health Care Systems Platinum
Johnson & Johnson Platinum

2016 NJ Safe Routes to School Recipients

Silver:
City of New Brunswick
Oak Ridge Heights Elementary School, Woodbridge

Bronze:
Campbell Elementary School, Metuchen

First Step:
William C. McGinnis Middle School, Perth Amboy
Samuel E. Shull Middle School, Perth Amboy

Halloween Pedestrian and Driver Safety Tips

halloween safety tips The ghosts, monsters and other creatures walking the streets on Oct. 31 aren’t the most frightful thing about Halloween. Here’s a scary fact: Halloween is the most dangerous night of the year for children walking on roadways across the country.

Children are more than twice as likely to be hit by a car and killed on Halloween than any other night of the year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that children are four times more likely to be hit by a vehicle on Halloween. That makes following safe pedestrian and driver practices all the more important as children set out to trick or treat this year.

The Street Smart NJ campaign wants to make sure that costumes are the only thing causing a scare this year. Be sure to follow these tips to make your Halloween happy and safe.

For Pedestrians

• Make sure costumes don’t impair your child’s ability to walk or see. KidsHealth.org warns against wearing masks that can limit visibility.

• Before crossing look left, right, and then left again.

• Use sidewalks. When there are no sidewalks, walk facing traffic.

• Be visible. The Safe Kids Worldwide campaign suggests adding reflective tape to costumes or having children carry a light or glow stick. A survey by the group found that only 18 percent of parents have their children use safety lighting on Halloween.

• Cross at corners and intersections and use marked crosswalks when possible.

For Drivers

• Obey the speed limit. AAA suggests driving 5 mph below the posted speed limit on Halloween.

• Stop for pedestrians. New Jersey law requires motorists to stop for pedestrians in cross-walks. Violations of the law carry a $200 fine and two points on your license.

• Don’t drive distracted. New Jersey prohibits talking and texting while driving. Fines range from $200 for first-time offenders to as much as $800 for repeat offenders.

• Drive sober. On Halloween Night between 2009 and 2013, 119 people were killed by drunk driving, according to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration.

Want more suggestions on how to stay safe? Check out our Street Smart Safety Tips page.

This post was written and created by Street Smart NJ Pedestrian Safety Campaign in conjunction with NJTPA.

 

Riding in the Road: 8 Tips for Safe Cycling

Andrew_Peter_May07-001As a bike rider, it can be challenging to feel comfortable riding in the road with motor vehicles, but roads are often the best way to get from A to B whether for shopping, commuting or enjoying a ride. Learning to ride defensively can increase your comfort and safety, and expand the number of roads where you can ride. Here are some tips for defensive bicycling.

  • Choose your route 
    • Before your ride, select a route with the lightest or slowest traffic or the widest shoulder that gets you where you want to go. Select a route where you’re comfortable riding.
  • Ride predictably
    • Ride in a straight line, in the direction of traffic on the right side of the road. However, don’t hug the curb. Leave room to safely navigate issues such as pot holes, debris, sewer grates and other obstacles.
    • Obey traffic signs and signals, they’re for both bicyclists and motor vehicles.
    • Use extra caution around turning vehicles and at intersections. Avoid passing stopped vehicles on the right.
    • Use extra caution around large vehicle like trucks and buses, which have a larger blind spot and make wider turns.
    • When there is a short gap between parked cars, ride in a straight line rather than weaving in and out. This way, drivers see where you want to go and you can avoid merging back into the travel lane when you have to pass the next parked car.
    • Don’t swerve at the last second to avoid potholes or debris. Instead, move over early when you notice an obstacle up ahead.
  •  Be visible
    • When a travel lane is too narrow for both a bike and motor vehicle to share, move towards the center of the lane to make yourself more visible to motorists.
    • Use a front white light and red rear light in low-light conditions and at night. It’s New Jersey law.
    • Wear bright, highly visible clothing, preferably with reflective tape or patches.
  • Avoid distractions and hazards
    • Keep your head up and be aware of your surroundings.
    • Ride four feet from parked cars to stay out of the “door zone,” where you could collide with an opening car door.
    • Avoid drinking, eating, using your phone, or anything that requires your hands while bicycling.
    • At large, complicated or busy intersections, consider getting off your bike and walking across.
  • Communicate
    • Look behind you and scan for oncoming vehicles before making all turns.
    • Signal your turns, especially in mixed traffic and around other cyclists.
    • Make eye contact with drivers and pedestrians.
  • On the trail or sidewalk
    • When riding near pedestrians, let them know you’re there using a bell or your voice.
    • Reduce speed when passing pedestrians and other cyclists.
    • Slow down and use extra care at intersections and blind corners.
  • Have the right equipment
    • Wear a helmet every time you ride.
    • Ride a bike that’s the right size for you.
    • Keep your bike in good working order. Check tire pressure, brakes, and chain regularly.
  • Ride more and learn more!
    • When driving look carefully for bicyclists before turning left or right, merging into bicycle lanes and opening doors next to moving traffic. Respect the right of way of bicyclists because they are entitled to share the road with you.
    • Consider taking a Smart Cycling class from the League of American Bicyclists.

The Best Commute in New Jersey

kmm guest post blogI boast to myself often, and sometimes to co-workers, that I have the best commute in New Jersey!   My name is Sam Gilbert, and I bicycle several days a week from Middlesex Borough to the Johnson and Johnson campus in New Brunswick.  Approximately 6 miles of my 9 mile commute is along the Delaware and Raritan Canal towpath. I enter the towpath at the Queen’s Bridge in South Bound Brook, and exit it at the Landing Lane Bridge.  And, it is a truly a pleasurable ride.

I average 70 or 80 bike commutes a year, excluding the winter.   Though I carry rain gear in my back pack when the weather is “iffy,” I tend to ride on days when the weather reports are favorable.  And, in case you’re wondering, I do have access to a shower at work!!

An added treat is the wildlife I enjoy along the canal.  A casual birder, I have seen herons, osprey, a great Horned Owl, a Bald Eagle and more!  Deer are a given.  But, raccoons, foxes, squirrels, muskrats are also to be seen.  And then, there are the beavers.

KMM guest post blogIn the past few years, there has been a population explosion of Beavers in NJ. I’ve seen few of them along the canal in the past.   But this year, beavers are swimming in the canal almost every day! There is beaver hut on the bank of the canal approximately 100 yards south of the footbridge near where Demott Lane meets the canal.  A beaver is often seen in this area, and I see another near the Landing Lane Bridge.  I suspect there is a beaver hut in this area.

“The best bicycle commute in NJ?  OK, maybe I exaggerate, but only slightly.   I REALLY do enjoy my ride.  Perhaps some other NJ Bike commuters will share their experiences of cycling to work.  If there is a better bicycle commute than mine, I’d sure like to read about it.

Post written by guest blogger, S. Gilbert.  Photos by guest blogger, S. Gilbert

#BikeToWorkNJ – Come be a part of it!

#biketoworkNJ

Have you registered your ‪#‎biketoworkNJ‬ ride with KMM?

Everyone who registers not only helps add to our total miles in May,

but has the chance to win 2 tickets to the State Theatre!

Every Ride Counts!
 Register your ride with KMM.
Track your miles biked for each ride and KMM will
send you a survey so that we can tally our miles.
Together we can do it!

Bike to Work Week is an international event that encourages commuters to ride their bike to work at least once during the two weeks. The event ultimately raises awareness about the ease of using a bicycle for everyday transportation needs and the environmental and health benefits of doing so.

#biketoworkNJ

AND…

If you find yourself in New Brunswick on May 20th between 11am and 2pm, join us at the #BiketoWorkNJ  event at Kilmer Park.  This free, fun-filled event will feature live music, a bike safety demo and safety information.  Brown bag your lunch or grab lunch from one of the dozen delicious eateries in downtown New Brunswick and lunch with us.

The Winter Doldrums

kmm.orgDon’t let winter weigh you down.  Lift your family’s spirits with a brisk walk.  A walk around the corner, to a friend’s house, to the park, to the skating rink or sledding hill, or even to school in the sunshine and fresh cold air can put everyone in a better mood. Sound impossible? Here are some winter walking tips to put the spring in your step.

  • Be role model! If winter walking is normal to you, it’ll be normal to your children.
  • Being warm is not just about clothing.  Start out with a good breakfast and drink fluids to stay well-hydrated.
  • Dress appropriately. Bundle up in coats, hats, gloves, and scarves, of course. But also consider warm, waterproof boots (snow boots) and snow pants for snowy or very cold days.  Dress in layers.
  • Walking is more fun with friends! Recruit friends and neighbors to join you.
  •  Short winter days means dusk comes earlier.  Be visible.  Consider carrying a flashlight or clipping reflective tags to coats and backpacks.

Spring will be here before you know it, and April is New Jersey Walk and Bike to School Month. Now is a great time to bring in KMM for a school Walking Safety Assembly and to start planning a Spring Walk to School Day. Contact Safe Routes to School Coordinator Peter Bilton at (732) 745-3996 to find out more.