Sunday, November 30, 2008

Be Watchful! Be Alert! Keep Kids Alive!

Dear Friends in Safety,

As winter approaches, it seems only appropriate to remind ourselves to, “Be watchful! Be alert!”

I was reminded of this recently when reading an article authored by a man who was very familiar with his surroundings. He was sitting in an easy chair in his room when the phone rang. He got up to answer the phone, as he had thousands of times before, but was not paying attention to his surroundings, tripped, fell, broke his hip, and ended up in the hospital for 6 weeks and in a wheelchair after that.

What does this have to do with traffic safety?

The familiar can often be our downfall as drivers. We’ve driven down our neighborhood street thousands of times without incident, when one moment on our 10,00th trip down the street, a child dashes out in front of us. Or, we’ve rolled through a stop sign thousands of times, when, in an instant, on one particular day, a runner appears crossing the street, or a child on a bike comes into view a moment too late.

It is for moments like these, which truly can pop up at any time on any day of any year of our lives, that we must be watchful and be alert each and every instant we are behind the wheel.

What does being watchful and being alert look like?

It looks like:

1. Checking around the car before starting out on a trip. Make sure no children, or anyone of any age, is lurking around the vehicle.

2. Buckling up every one (including ourselves), every trip (no matter the distance), every time.

3. Observing the speed limit, or going slower. This is especially important in winter when stopping distance may well be increased or otherwise effected by the weather.

4. Practicing safe space management; making sure that we are not following too close is a start. Remember the 3 second rule. Watch the vehicle in front of us pass a fixed object – a sign or a bridge – and then count the seconds it take us to arrive at that same object. If 3 seconds or more elapse in good weather, than our spacing is good. If weather is bad, double this to 6 seconds. Practicing safety can help to avoid a great deal of sorrow. Check out for a great tutorial on space managment at Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life site (Select Unit 4).

5. Stop at every Stop sign every time. Even if no one is present, this is great practice for the time when someone is. We’ve all heard the question, “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The answer, of course, is, “Practice, practice, practice!” Practicing safe driving skills and behaviors will get us to and from home safely as well. So, let’s all keep practicing.

Also, an invitation to support KEEP KIDS ALIVE DRIVE 25® financially in the year to come. Our goal is 1000 donors at $10.00 per month in observance of our 10th anniversary this year. Log on at The Network for Good to make a difference.

Thanks for your support!

All the best to you and your family in preparing for the holidays.

In safety,
Tom Everson
Keep Kids Alive Drive 25