Summer is deadly for traffic crashesPublished 9:00am Sunday, July 13, 2014
Families First by Maryanne Law
Question: What is the deadliest season for traffic crashes?
Response: Summer is the deadliest season on our roads; during the summer, there are typically more than 900 crashes involving teen drivers each month and illegal and unsafe speed has been one of the top three contributing factors in these crashes. Speed was a factor in 213 fatal crashes in the last three years (2011-2013), causing 235 fatalities and 666 serious injuries.
In addition to putting other motorists at risk, speeding: 1) increases the potential for loss of vehicle control; 2) requires greater stopping distance — it takes more than the length of a football field to stop when traveling 60 mph; 3) decreases the time available for driver response and crash avoidance; and 4) increases crash severity — the faster the speed, the more violent the crash.
Nearly 400 Minnesota law enforcement agencies will increase patrols from July 10-27, the enhanced enforcement and education campaign period for speed compliance. Driving at least 20 mph over the speed limit doubles the fine, and those ticketed at more than 100 mph can lose their license for six months. Besides obeying the posted speed limit, the Minnesota statute on speed limits requires motorists to drive with due care, which means driving at a speed that is reasonable and prudent for the conditions (which may be slower than the posted speed limit) and being aware of actual and potential hazards on the highway (that may require driving at a slower than posted speed limit).
Defensive driving includes knowing what to do if you are on the road with a speeding or aggressive driver: 1) get out of his/her way; 2) avoid eye contact; 3) ignore gestures; 4) find a safe place to call 911; 5) be prepared to provide the vehicle description, license number and location. In addition, keep a three-second following distance to allow for safe stopping and reaction to other vehicles.
To talk with a parenting specialist about the challenges in child-raising, call the toll-free Parent WarmLine at 1-888-584-2204/Línea de Apoyo at 1-877-434-9528. For free emergency child care call Crisis Nursery at 1-877-434-9599. Check out www.familiesandcommunities.org and Not So Fast: Parenting Your Teen Through the Dangers of Driving at the PRC Specialty Library (105 First Street S.E., Austin).
Maryanne Law is the executive director of the Parenting Resource Center in Austin.