Planning on taking a getaway for Valentine’s Day weekend? Read this first to help keep you and your Valentine safe on the road.
FLORIDA—The “love bug” is in the Florida air. It’s that time of year again for flowers, chocolate, and a romantic night out with your special someone. With Valentine’s Day falling on a Sunday this year, many will prepare to extend the fun for the entire weekend. Some couples may decide to hit the road to reach their travel destination or dinner reservation.
If you are planning on hitting the road this Valentine’s Day weekend, Tripp Law Firm recommends that you brush up on a couple of safety tips issued by Florida’s Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DHSMV”) to help you stay safe and ensure your Valentine’s Day isn’t burdened by a car accident.
Don't Drink and Drive
First, it is important to note that alcohol consumption rises on holiday weekends, and police are on high alert, searching for reckless or drunk drivers. To wit, a study from BACtrack.com has even deemed Valentine’s Day as one of the most popular holidays for consumption, with some of the highest BAC levels recorded, just after New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.
FHP has provided the following tips to help you make that celebration fun and safe:
- Plan a safe way home before the fun begins.
- Buckle Up. A seatbelt is your vehicle’s most important safety feature, but it only works if you use it.
- Before drinking, designate a sober driver.
- If you are a designated driver, do not drink. One drink is one too many.
- If you’re impaired and did not designate a driver, use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation so you are sure to get home safely.
- If you happen to see a impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement or dial *FHP (*347). This call could save a life.
- If you know people who are about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
- And remember, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle (in motion or stopped) by the driver and or the passenger(s) is a violation of Florida law.
Share the Road
On Valentine’s Day many restaurants have specials on meals and drinks, but they also tend to be very crowded, leading to impatient and irritable guests. Being in a hurry can ruin your evening, so do your best to remain patient and relaxed, especially when driving. All drivers should use courtesy when driving and watch out for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists. After all, the road belongs to everyone, so do your part and follow the tips below to help make everyone’s road safer:
- Cut Out Cutting In: Cutting in front of another vehicle may create an emergency braking situation for the vehicles around you, especially in heavy traffic. If you force a larger vehicle to stop quickly this could cause a serious, even fatal accident.
- Check Your Blind Spot and Avoid the No-Zone: Large trucks have blind spots known as “No-Zones,” which are around the front, back and sides of the truck. Don’t linger in the No-Zone, and remember that if you can’t see the truck driver in the truck’s mirror, the truck driver can’t see you.
- Chill Out: Aggressive drivers put themselves and others at risk. Speeding, running red lights and stop signs, pulling in front of trucks too quickly when passing and making frequent lane changes, especially in the blind spots of trucks, can create dangerous and potentially fatal situations on the road.
- Give Large Trucks Room to Maneuver at Traffic Lights: Truck drivers sometimes need to swing wide to the left in order to safely negotiate a right turn especially in urban areas. They can’t see cars directly behind or beside them, so give them plenty of room to maneuver.
- Think Before You Drink: Alcohol affects a person’s ability to make crucial driving decisions, such as braking, steering or changing lanes. Remember, you are not the only one in danger when you decide to drink and then drive.
Avoid Driving Distractions
Driving with another passenger in the car can make your chances of getting into an accident even higher, making Valentine’s Day a dangerous day to drive. In fact, one of the biggest causes of accidents in Florida is distracted drivers. To law enforcement officials, distracted driving is characterized by any mental or physical activity that takes the driver’s focus off the task of driving. This increases the risk of driver error and crash involvement.
Although most distractions are avoidable, some distractions are impossible to completely prevent – instead they must be managed. To help you manage these distractions and focus on the road ahead, AAA has released the following rules:
- As a general rule, if you cannot devote your full attention to driving because of some other activity, it’s a distraction. Take care of it before or after your trip, not while behind the wheel.
- If another activity demands your attention, instead of trying to attempt it while driving, pull off the road and stop your vehicle in a safe place. To avoid temptation, power down or stow devices before heading out. Drivers should use caution while using voice-activated systems, even at seemingly safe moments when there is a lull in traffic or the car is stopped at an intersection, because potentially dangerous distractions can last longer than most drivers expect.
- If you have passengers, enlist their help so you can focus safely on driving.
- Put aside your electronic distractions. Don’t use cell phones while driving – handheld or hands-free – except in absolute emergencies. Never use text messaging, email functions, video games or the internet with a wireless device, including those built into the vehicle, while driving.
- Secure children and pets before getting underway. If they need your attention, pull off the road safely to care for them. Reaching into the backseat can cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Snack smart. If possible, eat meals or snacks before or after your trip, not while driving. On the road, avoid messy foods that can be difficult to manage.
- Finish dressing and personal grooming at home – before you get on the road.
- Make adjustments before you begin your trip. Adjust vehicle systems like your GPS, seats, mirrors, climate controls and sound systems before hitting the road. Decide on your route and check traffic conditions ahead of time.
- Store loose gear, possessions and other distractions that could roll around in the car, so you do not feel tempted to reach for them on the floor or the seat.
- Fully focus on driving. Do not let anything divert your attention, actively scan the road, use your mirrors and watch out for pedestrians and cyclists.
AAA Exchange, Tips For Preventing Distracted Driving (2015), available at http://exchange.aaa.com/safety/distracted-driving/tips-for-preventing-distracted-driving/#.VnMtozYaD7Y.
BACtrack®, BACtrack® Consumption Report – Holiday BAC Levels (2013), available at http://www.bactrack.com/pages/bactrack-consumption-report.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Safety Center – Be Responsible. Don’t Drink and Drive (2015), available at http://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/be-responsible-dont-drink-and-drive/.
Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Safety Center – Share The Road (2015), available at http://www.flhsmv.gov/safety-center/share-the-road/.
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