August 21st is National Senior Citizens Day. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed this holiday to raise awareness about issues that affect senior citizens and their quality of life. The best way to express your love is by driving safely. After all, if we drive like Maw Maw’s watching, accident rates would plummet.
Did you know kids are twice as safe when their grandparents are behind the wheel? According to a study by Dr. Fred Henretig, emergency medicine attending physician at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, youngsters aboard make grandparents aware of potential dangers and therefore more cautious. Dr. Henretig and his colleagues took into account the smaller proportion of crashes among grandparents, but even after adjusting for that and other factors like drivers’ gender, drivers’ seatbelt use, children’s use of seat restraints, whether children sat in the front or back seat, and the vehicle type, the lower injury rate among grandparents remained statistically significant.
So, whether it is for National Senior Citizens Day or every day, honor Maw Maw by driving safely.
It is the start of another school year, when students can be heard grumbling and parents celebrating all across our great Nation. For some teens, back to school also means the new found freedom of driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teens are the largest age group reported as distracted at the time of a fatal crash. Texting is clearly a dangerous distraction and for inexperienced teen drivers, it is double trouble.
Parents can take steps to change distracted driving habits and make the roads safer for everyone by taking these steps.
1. Parents should set a good example for safe driving for their children.
2. Parents can also encourage driving safety by not calling when they know their teen is driving.
3. Parents should limit peer passengers for their newly licensed teens, a major crash risk. Two or more peer passengers more than triples the risk of a fatal crash with a teen behind the wheel.
The key to getting a teenager to change a habit or do something differently, like driving safely, is to involve them in the process. Parents should start a discussion with teens and keep an open line of communication about the dangers of distracted driving. Let’s do our homework and drive safely.
We should all know by now that checking your phone while hitting the road can have disastrous effects but why do some continue this potential devastating habit? The Center for Internet and Technology studies discovered that receiving a text message lights up the same area of the brain stimulated by highly addictive drugs. When drivers hear their cell phone ding, our brain feels compelled to check it. A notification on your phone releases a brain chemical called dopamine into the body’s system. This affects the reward part of the brain. As the dopamine is released, it also shuts down the part of the brain that has to do with judgment and reasoning.
However, this is no excuse for continuing to check your phone while driving. When a person is behind the wheel their most important job is to focus on the task of driving. The only line of defense against distracted driving is the choices each driver makes behind the wheel. If you know someone is driving, don’t tempt them by calling or texting them. If you’re driving, don’t respond to calls or text messages until you have pulled over to a safe location.
The first of 12 long-awaited safety shoulders on the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway — the first major additions to the bridge in decades — could be completed within days, according to Carlton Dufrechou, general manager of the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission. After that, new segments should be added about every six weeks, he said.
A flat tire or blowout on the Causeway Bridge can be chaotic. Due to the Bridge’s original design, all disabled vehicles must be moved out of the roadway to prevent rear-end accidents. Although the Causeway’s response time is less than four minutes, a stalled vehicle is susceptible to being rear-ended by a distracted driver. Out of the 170 accidents on the Causeway in 2018, 57 were rear-ends into disabled vehicles.
To cut down on the number of rear-end accidents, the Greater New Orleans Expressway Commission is constructing safety bays / segmented shoulders midway between each of the existing crossovers on the Causeway Bridge. When construction is completed, the Bridge will have six safety bays / segmented shoulders on both spans (Southbound and Northbound). The first safety bays / segmented shoulders will be open to the public soon. These segmented shoulders will significantly increase emergency stopping areas for all commuters.
If you have a flat tire or blowout on the Causeway Bridge, as King Julian sings in the movie Madagascar, you got to move it….move it. If you, or another vehicle, are in distress on the Bridge, please contact Causeway Police by dialing 504-835-3116. We’ll be there to help you in minutes.