Another school year has come and gone. Summer has arrived and with it the excitement of vacations, parties, and family outings. No more setting the alarm clock unless you have a summer job or unfortunately summer school. Responsibilities have fallen to the wayside unless you have stopped driving your car. Driving a vehicle is a constant responsibility, which rests with not only the driver but also with any passengers.
Driving a car is an activity that takes constant attention to all your surroundings, such as weather, road conditions, and other traffic. Believe it or not, a passenger sets the attitude of the driver. Of course, all the occupants will talk to each other and that includes the driver. Conversation can cause the driver to take his attention off the road and that can lead to a severe accident, an accident which could have been avoided. Looking away from the road can cause the driver to run off the roadway and in an effort to get back on the road the driver snatches the wheel and/or applies the brakes, which causes a loss of control. The car then begins to slide sideways into the path of oncoming traffic. Many accidents occur this way because we instinctively jerk the steering wheel and brake in a panic situation. Also if the driver takes his attention off the roadway, he could hit the car in front of him if it stops at a traffic light or stops for some other type emergency.
Being the passenger in a car, you can do several things to help the driver keep his attention on the road. You can adjust the radio or CD controls, climate control for the air conditioner, talk on the cell phone for the driver and a host of other things. Let’s say you are headed to Panama City and the driver starts getting sleepy. Change drivers or at least get him to stop for a short break.
I hope all of you have a safe summer and look forward to your responses.
Lane Tyson, Gwinnett County Police
Posted July 15, 2002