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Crime Prevention: Traffic Safety Tip for September

PURPOSE

The purpose of this circular is to provide information to Department personnel and the community to enhance awareness on traffic enforcement and safety issues. The information in this circular can be used for crime prevention meetings, community presentations, enforcement efforts, or in any other forum deemed appropriate. The emphasis this month is on Driver Safety and Railroad Crossings in honor of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Stop on Red Week, September 7–13, 2002, and Drive Safely to Work Week, September 8–14, 2002.

PRESENTATION

Each year, traffic collisions are responsible for more than 200 deaths and over 14,000 injuries in the City of Los Angeles. Because your life, and the lives of others, depend on your skill as a driver, improving driving skills is an effort worth making. Everyone agrees that nearly all traffic collisions can be prevented if drivers stay alert, think ahead and practice safe driving habits.

Safe driving begins before you get behind the wheel. Make sure you are:

Physically healthy and alert.

  • Obtain regular medical checkups and eye exams.
  • Fatigue affects alertness and judgment.
  • Drug and alcohol use greatly increases the chance of a collision.
  • Be aware of other physical factors that could interfere with safe driving.

Emotionally ready to drive.

  • Don’t drive when you are angry or frustrated.
  • Don’t take your anger out on other drivers, it could be dangerous!
  • Don’t drive when you are worried or preoccupied.

Armed with the right attitude.

  • Concentrate on what is happening now and anticipate what will happen next.
  • Be confident in your skills and driving knowledge.
  • Be courteous toward other drivers and pedestrians.
  • Use your safety belt. It protects you and helps you stay in control of your car.

Additionally, safe driving practices include:

Scanning the Road

  • Scan the road and concentrate on your intended path.
  • Look down the road 10 to 15 seconds ahead of your vehicle so you can anticipate problems and see traffic patterns.
  • Keep your eyes moving -- look far and near, side to side. Check mirrors, too. Don’t focus on just one area.

Accelerating

  • Pick up speed smoothly and gradually. It’s safer and saves gas.
  • Wear shoes that don’t interfere with smooth operation.

Braking

  • Be prepared to brake each time you enter an intersection.
  • When braking use firm and even pressure on the pedal.
  • If your vehicle is not equipped with an anti-lock braking system, remember to pump the brake pedal to prevent lockup and lost of steering control.
  • Tap your brakes to signal cars behind that you intend to stop.

Steering

  • Plan ahead so you can avoid sudden stops or turns.
  • Signal before changing direction.

Backing up

  • When backing up, check behind the car before you get in. Children and pets are hard to see from the driver’s seat.
  • Get help in backing up if your vision is blocked or if you have other problems.
  • Always back slowly to avoid collisions.

Following

  • Keep a safe following distance to see better. The more space you allow between your car and the car ahead, the more time you will have to see a hazard or accident down the road.
  • Use the three-second rule. When the vehicle ahead of you passes a certain point, such as a sign, count one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three. If you pass the same point before you finish counting, you are following too closely.

Passing

  • When passing, do so only if it’s necessary, safe and legal.
  • Be sure to check the front, rear and any "blind spots" before pulling out.
  • Signal before changing lanes.

Being Passed

  • When being passed, maintain your speed. Slow down if necessary to allow a vehicle to safely complete a pass.

RAILROAD CROSSINGS

About every 90 minutes, a vehicle and train collide in the United States. Did you know you are 30 times more likely to die in a crash with a train than with another motor vehicle? To avoid a crash with a train, always obey pertinent laws and traffic warning signals. Use caution and be prepared to stop, look, listen and live. Remember:

  • Don’t walk on or near rails or climb on railroad cars.
  • Don’t walk on railroad bridges.
  • Don’t drive or walk around gates. If the gates are down, stop and stay in place.
  • Don’t get trapped on a grade crossing. Never drive onto a grade crossing until you are sure you can clear the tracks. If your vehicle stalls on a crossing, get everyone out of the vehicle and off the tracks immediately.
  • When crossing the railroad tracks on foot, always cross the grade crossing and obey all signs and signals.

OFFICER AND COMMUNITY RESPONSIBILITIES

It is the responsibility of every uniformed officer to enforce the State’s traffic laws and to educate the community on the importance of traffic safety. These efforts, combined with the active participation of community members following the rules of the roads, will help ensure the safety of motorists throughout the City.