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!

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.

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!

Stop. Think. Act.

June is National Safety Month and there is no better time to brush up on your summer safety skills than right now. Temperatures are rising and schools are closing their doors for the summer. So whether you are at home, on the road or at play, safety should always be your first priority.

  1. While driving, you should: Make sure everyone in the car is wearing his or her seatbelt. Never drive under the influence or when drowsy. Never talk on your cell phone or text. Avoid aggressive driving and speeding. Be aware of children at play and other pedestrians.
  2. While riding a bike, you should: Always wear a helmet. Wear sneakers and/or another type of closed toed shoes. Be aware of your surroundings and cars on the road. When at an intersection always walk your bike across the street.
  3. While simply enjoying the outdoors, you should: Be aware of the temperature and heat. Always protect your skin by using sunscreen and wearing a hat. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water.

There are 92 days in the summer season, here on the northeast.  Make the most of each day – safe and smart.

Happy Summer, Friends!

PS.  we do not recommend driving with legs out of the car window – only when safely parked enjoying summer sunrises, days, or sunsets 😉

Distracted Driving Education Program

In 2017, KMM added a new Distracted Driving presentation for young drivers to our safety outreach program. The 45-minute interactive presentation, created by the Robert Wood Johnson Trauma & Injury Prevention Department, walks teens through sobering videos and interactive exercises that emphasize the life-threatening dangers of distracted driving. With assistance from the local Police Departments, more than 1400 students in Colonia, Woodbridge, John F. Kennedy High School in Iselin, Highland Park, South Amboy, and South River High Schools participated in this program.

Sometimes, the discussion gets personal.  During a presentation in South River High School, a police officer shared how his father died after a young distracted driver side-swiped him as he helped a disabled vehicle on the Garden State Parkway.  In Highland Park High School, a teacher recognized the smiling faces of a young couple in a prom photo. They were her neighbors’ children and they died in a car crash shortly after that picture was taken. With tears streaming down her face, she described the anguish of losing these young adults and the impact it had on the entire community.

KMM’s goal is to empower and educate Middlesex County’s young drivers to act responsibly and pay attention behind the wheel so they don’t become another statistic of distracted driving. If you would like to bring this program to your local high school, please contact KMM at 732-745-4465.

Everyone Needs to Know the Rules of the Road

 

East Brunswick Mayor Brad Cohen welcomed 35 municipal officials and police officers to the Township’s Cultural Center in October to discuss The Rules of the Road, a pedestrian safety seminar sponsored by KMM.  Bill Neary, Executive Director, and others discussed the various motorist and pedestrian safety programs available from KMM.

Will Yarzab of the North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority introduced Street Smart.  This statewide community-based campaign educates motorists and pedestrians about safe behaviors such as using crosswalks, waiting for the walk signal, obeying speed limits, and stopping for pedestrians.  And, everyone must avoid distractions.  Communities may enhance Street Smart with KMM’s pedestrian Safety Flags or Paint the Pavement programs.

Teenagers are the primary audience for KMM’s Distracted Driving presentation.  Videos and interactive exercises emphasize the importance of paying attention when driving.  Youngsters can benefit from Safe Routes to School which includes walk and bike to school events, bike rodeos, and classroom activities.  Senior citizens will enjoy “The Jay Walker Show” which reminds participants of safe walking tips.

Jay Muldoon, Borough Administrator for Metuchen, pulled all of the programs together as he described his experiences with KMM.

For more information, please contact Program Coordinator Arlene Holt at aholt@kmm.org or 732-745-4368.

Be Street Smart and Save Lives

In December 2017, in conjunction with Mayor Brad Cohen of East Brunswick, KMM conducted a #BeStreetSmartNJ pedestrian safety education campaign aimed at increasing awareness and education in busy shopping centers during the busiest part of the year – holiday shopping!

The Street Smart NJ campaign is a collaborative effort among public, private and non-profit organizations and comes at a significant time. New Jersey is ranked 15th in the nation in pedestrian fatalities in 2015, according to a recent report from Governors Highway Safety Association. The federal government has designated New Jersey a “focus” state and has provided funding to help NJ combat its higher-than-average pedestrian fatality rate.

East Brunswick joins over 40 towns across NJ, including Metuchen, Woodridge and Middlesex Borough, that have implemented Street Smart campaigns.  This Spring, the Borough of Milltown will join the growing list of cities committed to pedestrian and driver safety.  For more information, please contact Director of Operations at rkarpinecz@kmm.org or 732-745-4490.

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.

Teen Driver Safety Week

National Teen Driver Safety Week is recognized each year during October.  Designated by Congress to raise awareness of teen driver safety topics and to encourage safe teen driver and passenger behavior when driving on the road, the program is now in its 10th year!

Research done by the American Automobile Association (AAA) shows that even though there has been a decrease in vehicle crashes, teen drivers still continue to have the highest crash rate. One of the major factors that increases the risk of a crash is impaired driving. This doesn’t only include alcohol or drug use, but this can also be caused by a distraction, fatigue, and strong emotions. Another major factor is the use of cell phones while on the road. Taking your eyes off the road for one second to check a text message, or to change the music playing can be a matter of life and death.

Teens (driving or not) understand that they are vulnerable and they are well aware of the many risks that affect safety both on and off the roads. It’s our job to make sure that they understand the importance of keeping their eyes on the road at all times and that following the law is a must when it comes to driving. Make sure you take part in Teen Driver Safety Week by spreading the word about #drivingsafety and other tips to help teens more aware of the risks they can face on and off the roads.