The month, we will address the benefits of maintaining proper posture when seated in your vehicle, the importance of seat belts, the dangers of drowsy driving and what to do in the event of an accident.


Proper Posture While Driving

The way you sit and hold the steering wheel affects your driving. Good posture can help you stay alert and in full control of your vehicle.

  • Sit with your back straight, upright and relaxed against the seat.
  • Move your seat close enough so you can easily reach the pedals, but far enough away that your elbows are in front of you when you hold the steering wheel.
  • Keep both feet within reach of the floor controls.
  • Keep both hands on the steering wheel.


The Dangers of Drowsy Driving

Just like driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, drowsy driving can be fatal. Sleepiness slows reaction time, decreases awareness and impairs judgment. Drivers at highest risk are people who drive a substantial number of miles each day, people with unrecognized sleep disorders and those who take prescribed medications with sedatives.

The symptoms of fatigue include eyes closing or going out of focus; irritability, restlessness and/or impatience; wandering or disconnected thoughts; an inability to remember driving the last few miles; drifting between lanes or onto the shoulder; abnormal speeding, tailgating or failure to obey traffic signs; and back tension, burning eyes, shallow breathing or inattentiveness.

Please heed the following safety tips:

  • Maintain a regular sleep schedule that allows adequate rest.
  • When the signs of fatigue begin to show, get off the road. Take a short nap in a well-lit area. Do not simply stop on the side of the road.
  • Try to avoid driving between 12:00am and 6:00am.
  • Keep the temperature cool in your vehicle.
  • Stop every 100 miles or two hours to get out of the car and walk around; exercise helps combat fatigue.
  • Stop for light meals and snacks.
  • Drive with your head up, shoulders back and legs flexed at about a 45-degree angle.


Safety Belt Safety and Usage

Each year, motor vehicle accidents kill more than 44,000 drivers and passengers, and seriously injure more than one million additional motor vehicle occupants. They are the leading cause of death for people 1-35 years old, and the number one cause of on-the-job deaths. In many cases, these fatal and serious injuries could have been prevented or lessened substantially if safety belts had been used. When used, safety belts reduce the number of fatalities by 50% and cut the number of serious injuries by about 55%.

  • Do not start the vehicle until all belts are fastened. Any extra belts should be secured so they won’t flop around and cause injury in the event of a crash.
  • For lap/shoulder belts, adjust the lap portion so that it fits snugly over your hip bones; the width of your hand should easily slide between you and the shoulder portion of the belt.
  • Limit the maximum number of vehicle occupants to the number of belts in the vehicle.


In the Event of an Accident, Please Obtain the Following

In the event of an accident, it’s important to take pictures of all vehicles involved. Make sure you take photos from the point of impact and all sides of all vehicles involved from all angles. Take photos of any skid marks, traffic signals and any related factors that may have caused the accident. Take photos of the scene from up close and at a distance. Photograph nearby buildings and stores as witnesses may have witnessed the accident but were unable to come forward at the scene. Under no circumstances should you attempt to settle the accident at the scene by offering to or accepting cash from any involved driver or passenger.

Please obtain the following prior to leaving the scene of an accident and submit it to your insurance company.

  • All involved drivers and passengers’ names, addresses, license numbers and phone numbers
  • Car owner’s name, address and phone number (if different from driver)
  • Insurance company names (or 3-digit code), policy number and expiration date
  • Witness’s names, addresses and phone numbers
  • The phone number and precinct number of responding police officers
  • The names of all responding police officers and the accident report number
  • The name, address and phone number of any medical facility anyone is taken to from the scene by ambulance
  • The name, address and phone number of any tow trucks responding to and removing vehicles from the scene

Under no circumstances should a driver leave an accident scene, no matter how insignificant or minor it may appear. Do not leave the scene without exchanging information with all involved. Many uninjured pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists will say they are OK at the scene only to later file a claim. Call police to the scene whenever an involved pedestrian requests it. If you leave an accident scene with an alleged pedestrian injury you may be arrested and charged with a crime. Always invest a few minutes to avoid losing a far greater amount of time in the future.

Article by Bertram Merling

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

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