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.

Drive Safely Work Week

Drive Safely Work Week is an annual campaign sponsored by the Network of Employers for Traffic Safety (NETS).  Each year this campaign aims to improve the safety of employees, families, and the community by preventing traffic crashes that occur both on and off the job. Drive Safely Work Week  is recognized nationally each year during the first full week of October, making this year’s campaign October 2-6.

Here are some tips to help you take part in Drive Safely Work Week:

Always be aware of what other drivers around you are doing. Not only does this safety tip apply for Drive Safely Work Week, but it applies for everyday driving and you should always expect the unexpected. Assume that the other motorists around you will do something crazy, and that way you will always be prepared to avoid it.

Keep a 2-second cushion between you and the car in front of you, that way you can be prepared to stop at a safe distance at any time.  If the weather happens to be bad, you should turn the 2 seconds into 4 seconds so you have extra time. Be sure that you always drive at the speed suitable to the conditions. The speed should allow you to stop well within the distance that you see to be clear.

According to the NETS, in 2010 there were nearly 5000 organizations that participated in Drive Safely Work Week. The campaign reached an estimated 20 million employees that participated in some way, shape or form. In order to continue this successful campaign, help spread the word about Drive Safely Work Week and take every precaution necessary to help prevent accidents.

Is Your Child in the Right Seat?

Picture Source: http://www.trafficsafetymarketing.gov/cps

Every 33 seconds, a child under the age of 13 is involved in a motor vehicle crash, making them the leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. After hearing that statistic, you’d certainly take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of the passengers in your car.  On Saturday, September 23rd,  you’ll have that opportunity during National Car Seat Check Saturday.

These deaths and injuries can always be prevented by proper use of car seats, boosters, and seat belts.  Here is what you need to know to help you and  your passengers stay safe on the road at all times.

All children ages 12 and under should ride properly buckled up in the back seat of all motor vehicles at all times. Children should stay in booster seats until they are big enough to fit in a seat belt properly. For a seat belt to fit properly, both for children and adults the lap belt must lie across the thighs, never the stomach. The shoulder belt should lie snug across the shoulder and chest, and never across the neck or face. Once children have reached the proper height and weight to use a seat belt, remember that for the best protection they should remain in the back seat until age 12.

For all children 2 and under, they should always ride in a rear-facing car seat that is placed in the back seat of the vehicle. A rear-facing car seat should never be  in the front seat or in front of an airbag. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat, if they are not the proper height, weight and age. Keeping a child in a rear-facing car seat is best until they reach the maximum height or weight limit allowed for that particular car seat. Once they outgrow a rear-facing car seat, your child is now ready to travel in a forward-facing car seat with a harness. Roughly around ages 4-7, the child will outgrow the forward-facing car seat, and move to a booster seat, which is still placed in the back seat of the vehicle.

Safety Tips for Back to School

bigstock-Watch-Out-For-Children-427446As children across Middlesex County head #backtoschool this week, they will again be sharing the roads with school buses, other young pedestrians, and bicyclists.  Whether your children walk, ride their bike, or take the bus, help ensure they take the proper safety precautions​.

Children who walk to school:  When walking, stay on the sidewalk if one is available. If the street does not have a sidewalk, walk facing the traffic so as to have a clear view of the traffic.  When crossing a street,  look left, right and left again to see if any cars, buses, or bicyclists are coming.  If possible, make a point to set time aside to practice walking their route to school.  Together you can use pedestrians signals, ensure they are crossing streets correctly, and get a good idea of the path they are taking.

Children who bike to school: When riding a bike to and from school, children should always wear a proper fitted helmet and sneakers at all times. The same procedures apply when crossing the street.  Riders must come to complete stop, look left, right and left again, and always walk their bike across the street. Parents should practice and teach children the rules of the road to help insure they get to school safe and sound.

Children who ride the bus to school: Rain or shine, the big yellow bus gets the children to school. To ensure a safe ride to school, make sure children stand six feet away from the curb when a bus is pulling up or driving away. Remind children to fasten their seat belts and to remain seated throughout the ride.  While it’s exciting to chat with friends, children should keep  screaming and jumping for the playground and home so that the driver can focus on the road.

Regardless of how children make their way to school, we wish everyone a safe and enjoyable school year!

Avoid Tragedy During Prom Season!

Now that June is here, prom season is at it’s highest peak. It’s an event many teenagers diligently plan for months and eagerly await. However, all too often the excitement on prom night is overshadowed by a tragic event. IMG_7403

Vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for young people aged 12 to 19. On prom night, it can be a particularly dangerous time with so many teens on the road late at night. According to AAA, 87% of teens reported that their friends have driven after drinking rather than calling home for a ride, just on prom night alone. On prom night, friends may try to use peer pressure to entice you to have a drink or two, but be sure to think about the dangers that come with underage drinking. Too many tragic incidents have already taken place where underage drinkers have gotten into driving accidents — causing lifelong injuries, paralysis, and for many even death.

For parents, make prom safety just as important as the dress your daughter will wear or the style of your son’s tuxedo. Giving teens your advice will play an important role when discussing teenage driving tips that might prevent them from becoming a tragic statistic on their prom night. Some tips you should cover are:

  1. Limit the number of kids in the car and make sure all passengers (including the driver) are wearing their seat belts.
  2. Instill the importance of concentration behind the wheel. Being distracted behind the wheel is a major cause of vehicle accidents, but its something that is very easy to avoid. Put down the phone, don’t listen to loud music and be sure to focus on the road.
  3. Discuss the dangers of drinking/drug use and driving. There will always be peer pressure and temptation on prom night. Be sure to remind your teen that the number one killer of teenagers is car accidents caused from driving under the influence.

Prom night is supposed to be something special and night full of great memories. As a teen you have your entire future ahead of you, so make sure it doesn’t get ruined by one night.

Memorial Day & Summer Kick-Off Driving Tips

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Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service and over the course of the years has been considered the unofficial  “kick-off” of the Summer season.  The day and long weekend are often marked by family gatherings, parades, barbecues, and road trips.  As a result, highways and local roads alike, see high volume of cars on the road along with traffic and impatient drivers. According to the National Safety Council, more than 400 people will be killed during their Memorial Day weekend travels.

When driving to your destination this weekend, here are a few tips to help insure you have a fun and safe travel weekend:

 

  1. Buckle Up  Always wear your seat belt on every trip and make sure your passengers are wearing theirs. If you are traveling with children, make sure they are restrained in safety seat that is appropriate for their height, age and weight.
  2. Don’t get Distracted  Never use your cell phone while driving, even if your hands are free. Avoid listening to loud music and eating during your drive, these can be more distracting than you think.
  3. Take Breaks  Get plenty of sleep and take regular breaks to avoid fatigue while on the road. If you know you have a long trip ahead of you, plan to have another driver to switch off with or plan to make a few rest stops during your travels.
  4. Plan Ahead  Don’t be in a rush to get to your destination. There will be plenty of cars on the road so it is important to keep a safe distance and go the speed limit while driving.  If you know you will be going to a party or gathering, always assign an alcohol and drug-free driver or arrange alternate transportation. Impairment begins with the first drink you have and its not worth getting behind the wheel afterwards.

Make sure you have fun by planning ahead so you, your family, and friends are sure to have a great time!

 

 

Winter is Here!

Car tires on winter road covered with snow

The winter is upon us and sooner or later, New Jersey will see itself covered in a freezing blanket of billowy snow. But as New Jersians, life doesn’t just stop because of a few flakes (or feet) of the white stuff. Getting your car “winter ready” before the first snow will ensure you’re ready to face the road ahead. Ensure vehicle fluids are changed, tires are checked or replaced, and ensure all exterior lights are in proper working order. Then follow these driving tips if you need to travel in the cold and snow:

  • Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Most vehicles keep the tire pressure information on the driver side door panel.
  • Check and replace (if necessary) windshield wipers.
  • Top off wiper fluid.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Do not use cruise control in wet, wintery, icy weather.
  • Avoid hard breaking in wet weather as this can make your vehicle spin out of control.
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds.
  • Keep non-clumping kitty litter or wood chips in the trunk of your vehicle. This will help your tires gain traction if you become stuck in snow.
  • When traveling long distances, make sure to keep a blanket, flash light, water, and snacks in your vehicle in case you become stranded.
  • When in doubt, stay home. If driving conditions make it extremely difficult to travel, please do not attempt to go out.

For more information on winter driving visit http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/roadway-safety/winter-driving-tips/#.WG0-FxsrJPY

Keep the Privilege – Drive by the Rules!

Picture Source: https://www.lakecountyfl.gov/media/news_releases/news_release.aspx?id=1962
Picture Source*

Did you know that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens ages 14-18 in the US?

In fact, in 2014, there were a total of 2,614 teen drivers (ages 15-19) involved in fatal crashes. There was an estimated 130,000 teens injured in motor vehicle crashes. Would you be prepared if your child was seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash?

A recent survey done by the National Center for Health Statistics, shows that only 25% of all parents have a serious talk with their children about the key components of driving; the positives and the dangers that they can face while on the road. This need to change.  All parents need to take the time to talk with their children about the many dangers of driving including alcohol, seat belts, using your phone, speeding, and extra passengers.

Impaired driving is one of the main reasons why teen drivers get into car accidents. Their vision, hearing and all other senses are off. Not being able to focus the correct way can cause drivers to swerve into other lanes, avoid spot signs and even prevent them from seeing other cars/pedestrians coming their way.

Here are 3 things you should cover with  your teen drivers before they go out on the road:

1. No one should drive after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

2. Even if the driver seems okay, do not accept a ride from someone who has been drinking or using drugs.

3. If you feel unsafe, call a friend or family member to pick you up before you get on the road.

 

* https://www.lakecountyfl.gov/media/news_releases/news_release.aspx?id=1962