This month, we are focusing on the fastest growing cause of accidents: Driver distractions. We are also offering tips for safely changing lanes and merging, as well as proper lifting techniques to avoid injuries.

Driver Distractions

  • Always keep your focus on the road you are traveling on.
  • TLC regulations state that FHV and medallion taxi drivers are NOT permitted to talk on a cell phone while operating a vehicle. “Hands free” devices and Bluetooth earpieces are also prohibited while driving.
  • Never talk on a two-way radio while your vehicle is in motion. Pull over to a curb or rest area to accept a radio call or to review an email or text.
  • Alternate radio stations to avoid getting too focused on music, talk radio, weather, sports or news.
  • Do not eat, drink liquids, count money, apply makeup or groom yourself while your vehicle is in motion. Refrain from grooming at red lights as well.
  • If someone asks for money or directions when you stop at a light always be sure they are completely out of your way before proceeding.
  • Do not engage in a lengthy conversation at a traffic signal. You could get dragged into a road rage incident.

Safe Lane Changes and Merging

  • Periodically scan your mirrors to be aware of the traffic around you. On a highway, check blind spots prior to changing lanes and signal your intentions well in advance.
  • Always allow trucks and other large vehicles to change lanes after they signal their intentions. Remember: If you can’t see their sideview mirrors, the driver cannot see you.
  • Do not change lanes if you cannot proceed with the flow of traffic. Do not change lanes and slow down, this may cause the vehicle behind you to rear end your vehicle. Always look down the highway and evaluate the big picture prior to changing lanes.
  • In New York, drivers often have to change lanes due to another driver’s unsafe actions. Always anticipate a taxi or vehicle for hire changing lanes to respond to a street hail.
  • Always anticipate a taxi or vehicle for hire changing lanes after loading a passenger and discovering their destination.
  • If you pick up a passenger and discover you need to change lanes abruptly (at the passenger’s request) let them know you will do so only when it is safe, and that safety is your primary concern.
  • Always allow a vehicle in front of you signaling a lane change the same courtesy you would appreciate.
  • Do not pass a bus or a truck on the right side (unless it is making a left turn). Always use the left lane for passing on a highway.
  • Being courteous to vehicles changing lanes not only prevents accidents but establishes good public relations for our often-maligned industry.

Safe Lifting Practices

  • You will have more strength and stability if you hold an object close to your body rather than at arm’s length. Make sure you have a firm hold on the object you are lifting and keep it balanced close to your body.
  • Avoid slippery surfaces when preparing to lift a heavy object. Wear shoes with rubber soles to avoid slipping when lifting.
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart and take small steps. A solid base of support is important while lifting. Keeping your feet too close together will be unstable, too far apart will hinder movement.
  • Bend your knees, keep your head up and your back straight. Practice a proper lifting motion before you lift an object. Think about what you are doing. Focus on keeping your spine straight – raise and lower to the ground by bending your knees. Your legs are much stronger than your lower back muscles, let them do the work.
  • Never bend your back to pick something up. It’s not worth the damage improper lifting can cause.
  • Tighten your abdominal muscles and engage your core when you lift. This will help keep your back in the right position and prevent spinal damage.
  • If you’re straining, get help. If an object is too heavy or awkward in shape, find someone who can help you lift. Doormen and bellhops can often assist.
  • Consider wearing a belt designed for back support. If you are often lifting in your job or at home, a lifting belt can help you maintain a better posture.
  • Don’t twist or bend. Face in the direction you are walking. If you need to turn, stop, turn in small steps and then continue walking.
Article by Bertram Merling

Bertram Merling is the Loss Control Coordinator for the Hereford Insurance Company.

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