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Department Secretary,
Hook & Ladder Co.

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Safety Message from the Chief: Driving Safety and Back to School on the Roads

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Did you know that August is National Traffic Awareness month? It's a time when summer is fading fast, and we are hanging onto to the last few weeks of pool parties, beach picnics and summer fun before we head into Fall again.

Last year, Halesite responded to 13 motor vehicle accidents; our small community has nothing on New York's number of 110,834 incidents reported in 2020 (32,154 of which occurred in Suffolk county alone, the highest number in the state!) Sadly, the leading cause of this astronomical number of car accidents is incredibly avoidable; distracted driving. From talking on the phone and texting, paying more attention to children than the road, and eating, there are plenty of opportunities for drivers to become preoccupied enough to cause an accident. Sometimes these accidents are a fender bending reality check, and sometimes they shatter lives. We'd like to take this time to remind you of some safety tips to remember while driving.

1-Buckle Up! Make sure you and your passengers are properly restrained. This is the single most important thing you can do to protect your life and the lives of your loved ones if involved in a motor vehicle crash.

2-Never Drive Impaired. If you've been drinking, have a designated driver or arrange for a car service.

3-Drive Attentively. Avoid the three most common distractions: cell phones, music, and snacks or drinks.

4-Follow Traffic Signals. Be aware of speed limits (and where they change, especially near schools), traffic lights, and stop signs. Be sure to come to a Complete Stop - When you see a stop sign or a red light, it's important to bring your vehicle to a complete stop, even if you think no other vehicles are coming. Most motor vehicle accidents occur at intersections.

5-Share the Road. Look out for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcyclists.

If you are walking, running or biking on the roads, there are rules that apply to you as well.

1-Pedestrians should walk against traffic, where cyclists ride with traffic.

2-Pedestrians should walk on a sidewalk when available, whereas cyclists are not permitted on the sidewalk and should ride on the side of the street.

3-When biking, you should wear a helmet, regardless of age, but those 14 and younger are required to do so.

4-Don't be distracted! Whether walking, running or cycling, you should prioritize being able to hear traffic moving around you. When you have music that you can't hear over, you become vulnerable to what's happening around you. Being aware of cars, other bikers or pedestrians around you may save your life.

5-Pedestrians should follow all "Walk" "Don't Walk" signals and only cross the road at designated crosswalks or intersections.

Finally, as our youngest residents get ready to head back to school, we must be mindful that we will be sharing the roads with buses, kids who are walking or biking to school, who are waiting for the bus on corners, and even new drivers who are heading off to school on their own for possibly the first time.

1-Stop Means Stop! When you see a bus with yellow lights flashing, be prepared for the red lights that will soon follow. When a school bus stops and flashes its red lights, traffic approaching from either direction must stop before reaching the bus (this includes on both sides of a two-lane road, on multi-lane highways, and on divided highways). Most of our school buses are now equipped with cameras that will record motorists failure to comply with a stop, and the consequences apply not only to the driver but the owner of the vehicle. The punishments include fines of up to $1000, jail time up to 180 days, and points on your license.

2-Be mindful of your speed when driving through School Zones. The 15 MPH limit is in place to ensure that children who are walking or biking to their school are kept safe while they are en route. Look out for them at intersections and watch for them to be coming out of their driveways.

As they say, better safe than sorry. From following the traffic rules when driving or riding a vehicle, to walking on the correct side of the road as a pedestrian, together we can bring positive changes to our lives and others. And while our membership will always be ready to respond when you need us, we hope that by following these safety tips, we won't have to.




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