Give Yourself Room to Live: Buckle Up and Slow Down

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Now more than ever driving is one of the most dangerous things that you do every day. Vehicle crashes and fatalities on our Texas roads and across the nation have gone way up! According to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) there were more than 4,480 people killed on Texas roads in 2021, making it the second deadliest year since TxDOT began tracking fatalities in 1940. Nationwide, an estimated 20,160 people died in motor vehicle crashes in the first half of 2021, up 18.4% over 2020. In Texas, traffic fatalities were up 15 percent from 2020-2021. Driver behavior is one of the causes and also one of the most important solutions. Failure to wear a seat belt and speeding are the main reasons for this increase in fatalities. Of the 4,480 people who died in vehicle crashes in 2021, 1,522 were killed due to speeding and 1,219 were killed because they were not wearing a seat belt. By simply always wearing your seat belt, reducing your speed and remembering to keep your distance behind the vehicle in front of you, you can give yourself room to live!
Making sure that children are in the proper car seats, and older children and adults are using seat belts is the most crucial step you can take to protect yourself and those you love in a crash. Those few seconds it takes to buckle can save your family and friends from having to go through a needless tragedy. Seat belts are your best defense against injuries and fatalities in vehicle crashes.
Speed matters in a crash. The higher the speed you are traveling, the more energy is developed which translates into more damage to the vehicle and to the occupants. Most people underestimate the time it takes to stop a vehicle. When you see a vehicle ahead of you suddenly stopping, or some other reason to stop, the first thing you need to do is to react and decide to take action. Typical reaction time is three-fourths of a second then another three-fourths of a second to move your foot to the brake pedal. That is a total of 1.5 seconds. At 70 mph, it would take 387 feet to stop your vehicle. Keep in mind that a football field is 360 feet long. That is why it is so dangerous to follow too closely.
Follow the 3 Second Rule. When the vehicle in front of you passes a fixed object, you should be able to count at least three seconds before you pass the same object. Increase your following distance in bad weather. Again, give yourself room to live and leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front.
What is your hurry? Consider that 30-mile trip at 55 mph would take 32.7 minutes, when you increase your speed to 65 mph, you save 5 minutes. At 75 mph, only 8.7 minutes are saved. Is it worth it to put your life and the lives of others at risk to save less than 9 minutes of saved time?
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Passenger Safety and KidSafe Initiatives along with Family and Community Health Educator Lorie Stovall, Navarro County reminds drivers and passengers of these important safety tips.
· Make sure everyone in the vehicle is buckled and that child passengers are correctly in their car seat and the car seats are buckled securely to the vehicle.
· Unbuckled passengers are also dangerous to others in the vehicle. In the event of a crash, the unbuckled passenger becomes a large projectile flying around the vehicle, who can injure or kill other occupants in the vehicle — including those who are buckled up!
Do not drive over the speed limit
Remember that speeding also means driving too fast for road or weather conditions
Use the 3 Second Rule to make sure you are not following too close behind the car in front of you.
Give speeding drivers plenty of space. Speeding drivers may lose control of their vehicle more easily.
Be an active driver and be watching for other drivers who may be driving recklessly and give them more space.
In Texas there has not been a day without a fatality on our roadways since November 7, 2000. Let’s end this deadly streak! Remember as a driver your behavior can make a difference! Follow these safety trips and give yourself room to live!

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