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Be safe when returning to the roads

After months of staying at home because of COVID-19, drivers are beginning to get back on the road.

AAA urges that motorists avoid falling back into dangerous driving habits.

“The pandemic has highlighted the extent to which individual decisions and behaviors can impact the health and safety of others,” said Adrienne Woodland, spokesperson for AAA — The Auto Club Group. “We need to remember that we are all ‘in this together’ when it comes to safety on the road as well.”

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s annual Traffic Safety Culture Index was conducted before the pandemic hit. It shows a significant gap between what drivers consider dangerous and what they report doing themselves.

It found that drivers perceive distracted, aggressive, drowsy and impaired driving as dangerous, yet many admit to engaging in at least one of these exact behaviors in the 30 days before the survey.

For instance, reading on a cellphone while driving was perceived as dangerous by 94.3% of respondents, yet 38.6% had admitted to having done it in the past 30 days. An alarming 23.6% of drivers reported driving while being so tired that they had a hard time keeping their eyes open.

AAA recommends these safety tips to keep everyone safe on the road:

— Out of sight, out of mind. Stow your smartphone away, turn it to airplane mode, or activate call/text blocking features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb.

— Slow down. Drivers tend to overestimate time saved by speeding. You’d have to travel 100 miles to save roughly 5 minutes, moving at 75 mph instead of 70 mph. Speed kills and isn’t worth the cost.

— Stay alert. Get adequate rest and stop driving if you become sleepy. Fatigue impacts reaction time, judgment and vision, causing people who are very tired to behave in similar ways to those who are drunk.

— Drive sober. If you consume marijuana, alcohol, or use potentially impairing prescription medications, then don’t drive. And if planning to drive, then don’t consume these substances. If you are taking prescription medications, go to Roadwise Rx to learn if they can impair driving.

— Watch for vulnerable road users. Biking and walking have soared in popularity this year, and it is the responsibility of every driver to watch and share the road safely with cyclists and pedestrians.

In addition to remembering these safety tips, AAA recommends drivers make sure their vehicle is ready to roll by having it inspected at a AAA-approved auto repair facility.

The annual TSCI identifies attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety. The survey data are from a sample of 2,714 licensed drivers ages 16 or older who reported driving in the 30 days before the survey, which was administered between Sept. 6 and Oct. 8, 2019. The AAA Foundation issued its first TSCI in 2008, and the latest report is online at AAAFoundation.org.

Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research develops educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

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