Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Have a Happy & Safe 2011

Contributed by Norm Nyhuis, Trainer, Evergreen Safety Council
Many of us take a moment at the end of the year to look back to see where we were, where we’ve been and what’s ahead. We’ve had quite a year. One place where this fact is evident is in the area of issues surrounding driving, new laws, and new technology to make it all better.

Following are examples of each:

The State of Washington is now well on the way with the Target Zero program. The goal is simply to eliminate ALL highway traffic deaths by the year 2030. I believe it is possible, and recent results show that the increased efforts toward this end have been effective. Comparing highways fatalities from Christmas 2009 to 2010, the only fatality reported to date is a hit-and-run Saturday night in Auburn. During the slightly-longer 2009 Christmas holiday weekend, four people died in collisions statewide. “Even one death is too many,” said WSP Chief John R. Batiste. “But it seems we had a much safer holiday weekend than in previous years.”

Whether we agree in principal or not, there are new laws that affect all drivers. By now all of us should be aware that it is now a primary offense to operate a motor vehicle while talking on a mobile telephone, while holding it to your ear. Texting while driving is also a primary offense.

However, here’s a new law that you may not yet have heard of: RCW46.61.212 has been in effect, but has now been enhanced to increase the safety zone around emergency vehicles parked on the side of the roadway. Essentially, you must change lanes where it is safe to do so, at least two hundred feet ahead of coming to an emergency vehicle – with it’s warning lights flashing – or if you can’t safely change lanes, reduce your speed while passing though the “emergency zone”. The RCW continues by saying, “A person who drives a vehicle in an emergency zone in such a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any emergency zone worker or property is guilty of reckless endangerment of emergency zone workers.” If convicted, you could have your driver’s license suspended for 60 days.

New technology in our cars is amazing. Things Henry Ford, Gaston Chevrolet or the Dodge Brothers never dreamed of, are now commonplace. Just for fun, here’s an automotive technology advancement we may see become common, soon.

We at Evergreen Safety Council, wish all of you a Safe and Happy 2011.

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