Road and Driver Safety
A while back, I wrote about everyone’s favorite topic – golf cart and community path safety. Wait! Don’t stop reading yet. I promise this is not another golf cart article, but some of what I said in that article actually applies to everyone’s second favorite topic – road and driver safety. As you may recall, I mentioned some very general guidelines such as sharing the roadway, keeping to designated roadways, and maintaining a safe driving speed. Although I was referring to golf carts when I wrote that article, those same concepts apply to your standard vehicles as well. Pretty simple, right? So instead of boring you with all the details that everyone learned in driver’s ed, let’s talk about some changes that have taken place since we last took a driver’s test.
First and foremost, as of July 1, 2018 Georgia is a hands-free state. Yes, it means exactly what you think it means. When you are in the driver’s seat of a vehicle that is not parked, you should not have a phone in your hand – not even at a stoplight. Unfortunately, we continue to observe drivers of both automobiles and golf carts violating this law. Oh, did I forget to mention that it applies to golf carts as well? So please, for the safety of yourself and those around you, put your phones down!
Did you know that Georgia is one of more than 30 states with a Move Over Law? This particular law was put into place due to the increasing numbers of first responders and Department of Transportation (DOT) workers being killed during routine traffic stops and construction projects around the country. Simply stated, drivers are required to move over one lane when possible if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights is parked on the shoulder of the roadway. If it is not possible to move over safely, drivers are required to slow down below the posted speed light AND be prepared to stop if necessary. This law applies to all first responders (law enforcement, fire, and EMS), utility vehicles, DOT vehicles, HERO vehicles, and wreckers tending to an accident. Although the law applies only to those vehicles mentioned, moving over is the courteous thing to do when you see any vehicle on the side of road, especially if a person is outside the vehicle.
I often think four-way stops are the bane of every driver’s existence, whether you have been driving for decades or only for a few weeks. There should be a sign that lights up and reads, It’s your turn, that would be triggered by a sensor when a car pulls up to the stop sign. It would make navigating an intersection a little easier in my opinion. Since that option is not currently available, how do you handle it? The correct answer is you should yield the right-of-way. Generally, the driver who arrives last gives right-of-way to those who were already there. However, do not assume that everyone else will yield to you when they should. If it is your turn and you think the other driver may not be following standard yielding practices, go ahead and yield to them. It is better to wait those extra few seconds than to have a collision.
Construction zones can be stressful, and although we do not have a lot of them on our lovely island, it still is important to keep these tips in mind to make it less stressful for everyone involved. Always stay alert and pay attention to the road so you can be prepared to react. Pay attention to signs as well, and if there are flaggers, obey their directions. If there is a lane closure, merge into the proper lane well before you reach the end of the lane and follow other vehicles at a safe distance. Finally, expect the unexpected, as other vehicles may slow, stop, or change lanes without notice. Just because you are driving safely does not mean that everyone else is!
As I was heading home one evening, I witnessed a vehicle in front of me pass someone…on a double yellow line on the uphill side of the bridge! Two emotions went through me when I saw this happen – fear and anger. I was terrified that a car was going to come over the bridge at that moment and there would be a head-on collision. And I was angry that someone would willingly put lives in danger to get a few seconds ahead because, inevitably, I ended up a couple cars behind them at the stoplight by Kroger.
Although all these tips are fairly basic and common sense, even the most experienced driver needs a refresher at some point.