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The traffic risks that arise from empty roads and many pedestrians

(Jessie Jacobson / CC BY-SA 2.0, License Link)
(Jessie Jacobson / CC BY-SA 2.0, License Link)(KWQC)
Published: Apr. 3, 2020 at 1:22 PM CDT
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With shelter-in-place orders across the state, there are fewer cars and drivers on the road. However, Mary Jo Prince with the Brazos Valley Injury Prevention Coalition will remind you that the same laws and risks apply—sometimes even more so.

See the video player above for the full conversation.

Distracted Driving
Risks

Prince: “We are all human, and worrying about personal situations is perfectly normal: jobs, families, bills, childcare, ordering food on the way home, school, family & friends calling to check on loved ones. We must be aware of our surroundings–there may be fewer vehicles, but there are still pedestrians, bicycle riders, skateboarders–and more children at home during the day, playing outside, taking family walks.”

Solutions

Prince: Make your calls, check your schedules, call your family and friends before you get behind the wheel; place your pick-up order before you get behind the wheel or pull over in a safe place to place your order. When you get home, meditate, watch uplifting movies, listen to inspirational music or blogs. Please, reach out to local resources for help for any serious emotional concerns.”

Drowsy Driving
Risks

Prince: “Stress brings sleepless nights, especially if our schedules–and everyone else’s in the family--have been turned upside down. Many currently have to pick up extra jobs or extra shifts.”

Solutions

Prince: “Do your best to get a good night’s sleep, even take power nap in the afternoon. Adjust your work schedules if necessary. Your bosses will understand. Especially if you’re a health professional and working extended shifts, find a place to get a little sleep at your place of business instead of trying to drive home.”

Impaired Driving
Risks

Prince: “The combination of extra time on our hands + stress + depression, or either individually can lead us to make bad choices and relapses into bad habits, and that includes making the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. We know our bars and restaurants are closed to on-site service, so it’s fair to assume that drinking is being done in homes That’s not a threat until one makes the choice to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Driving impaired during the day is no less risky than it is at night. Your vision, depth perception and reaction times are affected, and the consequences can be just as fatal.”

Solutions

Prince: “First, don’t let this crisis define you. Try not to occupy your time with increased use of alcohol or drugs, but if you make the choice to do so, do so at home. And when you drink to excess, this is when bad choices are made and risky behaviors increase, like ignoring our current shelter-in-place directives, you leaving your safe space, or inviting others who may also have been or will be drinking before they return home. Stay aware. Driving impaired is not going to make this crisis go away. Ultimately, the consequences and effects of choosing to drive impaired could certainly last long after COVID-19 crisis over.”

Speeding
Risks

Prince: “We think just because there are fewer cars on the road or because public safety enforcement is restricted, we can go a little faster or not come to a full stop at a stop sign or run a red light. Our traffic laws are not on quarantine. They are still in effect and still the law and still subject to enforcement, citations and penalties.”

Solutions

Prince: “Just as you should have before the COVID-19 crisis struck, follow the posted speed limits, control your speed and be prepared to react to any surprises on the road–remember others are facing the same challenges that may not affect our best driving practices under normal conditions.”

Seatbelts
Risks

Prince: “We think we don’t need to wear a seatbelt because we’re just running a few blocks away to the grocery store, or around the corner to pick up a call-in order, or put gas in the car. Nothing could be further from the truth. More crashes occur within 5 miles, or just 10 minutes of our homes. Wearing your seatbelts is the single-most important way to save lives in the event of a crash.”

Solutions

Prince: “Support our local businesses, and buckle up while you do it.”

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