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Pack Safety in Your Summer Tote Bag

Summer means different things to different people. To me, it means hot weather, fun in the sun, pool days with friends and backyard cookouts. It means there will be opportunities to eat ice cream and go boating. And it means the time is ripe to reaffirm your commitment to road safety.

Just as it is OK to reach for a cold drink from time to time, it also is right on the mark to talk about responsible choices and safe driving behaviors. Start with this: If you are the host and local and state COVID-19 guidelines allow for party guests, monitor their alcohol intake. Alternatively, consider throwing an alcohol-free event and serving mocktails. You might even want to share these delish recipes that everyone can enjoy.

If you are going to an event, plan ahead for a safe ride home. Appoint a designated driver or use a ride-share service. Impairment begins with the first drink. Here’s how: You can experience a decline in visual function, mental judgment and motor skills. All of these are essential to safe driving. Research shows most people recognize the dangers associated with drinking and driving. Yet, in a recent drunk driving survey conducted by insurance provider The Zebra, the results show too many are willing to take risks:

  • 18.9% admitted to driving while buzzed
  • 5.6% admitted to driving while buzzed and high
  • 2.1% admitted to driving while high

Summer should be about joyful days and starry nights, not about physical and mental health or tragic crashes. The warm weather is made for outdoor activities. As such, we need to understand there will be more pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists on the sidewalks and streets.

In fact, so many people are biking during the COVID-19 pandemic, retailers in the U.S. are running out of bikes to sell. In many cities, biking is a direct response to limited public transportation options. For some, it’s the only way to get around. For me, it’s a reminder about sharing, a value I learned from my mamma. To always be at our best, we need to share the road.

  • Bicyclists need to take steps to be seen, even when riding in daylight hours, and that means wearing bright clothing and using reflectors
  • Motorists need to give bicyclists adequate space and need to be on high-alert when traveling in areas frequented by bicyclists, particularly at intersections and around curbs

In pickup trucks and SUVs that sit up higher than normal vehicles, drivers can miss low-lying objects, and it can be difficult to spot little kids. Get in the practice of doing a 360-degree walk-around before you depart for your destination. Follow the rules of the road, and drive defensively.

Speed limits are set to ensure road safety and to strike a balance with concerns related to travel times and mobility. There is no need to rush, particularly during the summer months. The warm days go by fast enough. Slow down and enjoy the ride.

– Lisa Robinson is a senior program manager at the National Safety Council

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