Fall safety tips: share the road

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah — We have all experienced a long hot summer and are accustomed to dealing with hazards associated with summertime. 

We now find ourselves approaching the fall season. Before we know it the days will be shorter and we will be spending more time driving in the dark during morning and afternoon commutes. 

School has begun and we need to pay close attention to pedestrians in crosswalks. The majority of pedestrians will be children during morning and afternoon timeframes. There are far too many near misses in crosswalks, both on and off base. As vehicle operators, it is our responsibility to keep an eye out for pedestrians because, all too often, children and adults fail to look before they enter the street. 

As drivers and pedestrians, we need to practice better communication with each other at crosswalks. Pedestrians should establish eye contact with vehicle operators in the area before taking that first step into a crosswalk. Drivers should make eye contact as well, to let pedestrians know they can safely enter the street. This simple method of communication can save many lives if practiced by everyone. This is a very important part of sharing the road. Pedestrians’ lives are just as important as vehicle operators’ lives.

According to the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Zero Fatalities Campaign, drivers need to increase their alertness and awareness of pedestrians and cyclists who may be harder to see when it’s dark. Drivers need to slow down and follow slower speed limits around people on the street or in low light situations. Speed is a leading cause of pedestrian-motor vehicle crashes. Distracted driving, bicycling and walking are ongoing threats to everyone’s safety. 

Daylight saving time ends on Nov. 1 and for the next month and a half, the days will grow shorter and nights will grow longer. Everyone using the roadway must be aware of the risks associated with fewer hours of daylight to help prevent pedestrian crashes and save lives. At times, we will experience dark mornings with wet roads. This makes seeing pedestrians very difficult so drivers must use extra caution. With the increase in the amount of nighttime hours, pedestrians and cyclists need to understand the risks that low light situations present to them, and take steps to increase their safety. Similarly, drivers need to be extra cautious and share the road with our most vulnerable users. 

Drivers play a key role in keeping pedestrians and bicyclists safe on our roads. Pedestrians and bicyclists are far more vulnerable than people in vehicles.

Drive like you would want people to drive around you and your family. Slow down when you see pedestrians or cyclists or when visibility is reduced, such as in bad weather or when it’s dark. Understand that higher speeds lead to greater injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. Recognize that you are driving through our community and your choices can have significant impacts on other people’s lives.

During this fall season, let’s stay alert and help everyone stay alive on our roadways.

Share the road.