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Responsible Driver Tips



Fall and winter are peak seasons for deer related car crashes. According to the Insurance Information Institute, more than half a million drivers are involved in crashes caused by a deer. In 1995, there were a total of 24,811 deer-vehicle crashes in Ohio.

Tips to minimize your risk:

  • Deer are most active during early morning and evening hours. Be particularly careful at these time, and drive with your high-beam headlights on when traffic and the law permit.
  • If a deer crosses in front of you, brake firmly but do not swerve; you might hit another car. Blow your horn to frighten off the deer, and stay alert for other deer; they usually travel in groups.
  • If you spot a deer on the side of the road, slow down and honk your horn.
  • Deer tend to fixate on headlights, so flashing your headlights may prevent a direct collision.
  • Finally, always wear your safety belt. Most people injured in deer-related crashes were not buckled in.

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The majority of school bus and zone injuries occur outside of the school bus. So, the responsible motorist must take extra caution when approaching a school bus or zone.

  • The speed limit in school zones is 20 mph.
  • If a school bus is stopped to pick up or drop off children, you must stop at least 10 feet from the front or rear of the bus. Do not resume driving until the bus has departed. The bus will not proceed until the children have safely arrived on their residence side of the road.
  • If a bus is stopped on a street or road which has fewer than four lanes, all traffic proceeding in either direction must stop. If a bus is stopped on a street or road which has four or more lanes, only traffic proceeding in the same direction as the bus must stop.
  • If you fail to stop, the bus driver can report your license plate number and a description of you and your vehicle to the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction in that area. The law enforcement agency will conduct an investigation to conform the driver of the vehicle and can issue a citation for the violation. If the identity of the driver cannot be confirmed, the law enforcement agency can issue a warning to the owner of the vehicle at the time of the violation.
  • If you are issued a citation, you must appear in court, and you can be assessed a fine up to $500 and a maximum of one-year license suspension.

Teach Children

  • Safe walking practices to and from the bus stop
  • To wear light colored or reflective clothing when going to and from the bus stop in darkness
  • How and where to wait safely for the bus including how to avoid personal risks involving strangers
  • What to do if the bus is late or does not arrive
  • How to enter and leave the bus safely
  • Safe riding practices
  • How to safely cross the roadway before boarding and after leaving the bus
  • Proper respect for the rights and privileges of others

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Ohioans travel about 81 billion miles each year on the highways. Extra care must be given to driving in the winter months because it is much more difficult and sometimes even dangerous because of hazardous weather. Below are practical tips that should make driving safer during the winter months.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

  • Slow down and increase your following distance. The braking distance for road surfaces with rain, snow, sleet or ice can be three to nine times greater than breaking distances on dry clear road surfaces.
  • Bridges and overpasses get slick and icy even before the roads since their temperatures are five to six degrees colder than the roadway. Be especially cautious when temperatures drop to freezing or just below.
  • Plan your route to avoid icy streets and leave early.
  • Slow down in advance for intersections, curves, and downgrades. Keep at least a four-second following distance.
  • Use low beams in wet weather.

Remember: if there is a need to turn wipers on, there's a need to turn the lights on!

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The Emergency Management Agency recommends these tips for planning for emergencies with your car during the winter:

Prepare an emergency kit and keep it in your trunk. Include at least two blankets, waterproof matches and candles, extra clothing, particularly boots and mittens, a steel shovel and sand, dry food rations like raisins, nuts and candy, a flashlight with spare batteries, garbage bags for insulation against the wind and change for a pay phone. Also, prepare a first aid kit and keep it in the trunk or glove compartment

Survival Tips in Case You Get Stuck

  • Tie a red cloth on antenna.
  • Make sure your exhause pipe is free of snow.
  • Keep warm. Clap your hands and stomp your feet to keep blood circulating.
  • Run the car engine for 15 minutes every 15 minutes.
  • Watch out for other vehicles to signal for help; place a sign in the window saying "Help Needed."
  • Don't panic.
  • Unless there is a house in sight, stay in your car.

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Pedestrian deaths caused by motor-vehicle crashes are easily avoidable, but in 1992 151 pedestrians were killed. As a responsible driver, you should always be on the lookout for pedestrians.

When turning, take a last look for pedestrians. Be extra careful when turning right on red. Watch out for pedestrians when backing up in parking lots and driveways. In residential areas, watch out for sudden dart-outs in the street by children at play.

As a Pedestrian

  • Know the rules and teach them to children.
  • Always stop at the curb or edge of the road before entering the street.
  • Look left, right, then left again when crossing. Continue to check for vehicles until you cross safely.
  • Wait until the traffic light straight ahead is green or the walk signal is lighted.
  • Walk facing traffic.
  • When walking in the late evening, wear "reflective" clothing.

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For a variety of reasons, drivers seem to be increasingly short-tempered and take unnecessary chances behind the wheel. The result is an increase in crashes and fatalities. The next time you're driving and someone cuts you off, take a deep breath, and forget it. Give the other driver the right of way. It is far more important to arrive safely at your destination than to let that driver know what you think of his or her driving abilities. Concentrate on your safe driving skills by following these tips:

  • Do not tailgate the car in front of you. Stay at a safe distance behind it to allow for sudden braking/
  • If you are being tailgated, change lanes and let the car pass.
  • Look ahead and be aware of road conditions and emergencies up ahead.
  • Check your blind spots when changing lanes so that you know what is around you at all times.
  • Don't be a lane switcher. Lane switching slows traffic and creates a dangerous situation at the same time.
  • Driving isn't the time to read, use a computer, or do other things that distract you from the road.

With a little courtesy, common sense, and smart driving, you can get there safely and alive.

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As a driver, you have the responsibility to other motorists, passengers and yourself to remain in control of your motor vehicle. If you are not wearing your seat belt and are in a crash, you can completely lose control of your vehicle and make a bad situation worse.

As a driver and front seat passenger, your body is subjected to forces in a 35 mph crash similar to those from jumping head-first off a three-story building. Plus, you may be thrown from the vehicle into the path of your own vehicle or oncoming traffic.

As a back-seat passenger, the same sort of force can hurl your body against the front seat causing bodily harm to yourself and possibly serious injury or even death of front seat passengers.

Since the majority of crashes happen within 25 miles of your home, safety belt should be worn at all times and properly. Wear your safety belt for seven days in a row, and you will develop the safety belt habit!

Statistics show that not wearing your safety belts increases your chances of serious injury or death if you are involved in a crash.

In 1993, 69 percent of the 1,076 persons who died in a motor vehicle crashes with safety belts available were not buckled up.

While it is your responsibility as a motorist to drive safely, it is also your responsibility as a citizen to obey the law. Ohio's safety belt law requires that drivers and front seat passengers buckle up even if the car is equipped with an air bag.

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The Number One Injury Risk for Children in Ohio is Car Crashes.

Defensive driving tactics help reduce crashes, but during a collision, it is the safety belt or child safety device that will improve the chances of escaping injury or death. The safety belt enhances the driver's ability to stay in control of the vehicle, and a parent whose injuries are lessened by the use of a safety belt is better able to assist a frightened child.

It's the LAW!

A child who is either less than 4 years old or weighs less than 40 lbs. or both is required to be restrained in a properly-used child safety seat that meets federal motor vehicle standards. For example, a 5 year old, 38 lb child or a 3 year old 43 lb. child must be in a child safety seat.

The law applies to all drivers, including relatives, friends, neighbors, and day care and kindergarten employees, whose vehicles are owned, leased or otherwise under the control of the agency. Handicapped and medically fragile children are required to use child safety seats as well.

Correct Use of Child Safety Seats

To be effective, a child safety seat must be used correctly. Be sure to read and follow the instructions that come with the safety seat carefully as well as the installation instructions.

What to Remember When Using Child Restraints

1. Infant safety seats should always face the rear of the vehicle.
2. Your child must be secured by the safety seat harness, not simply sitting unrestrained in the seat.
3. The safety seat must be secured by the vehicle's safety belt, not just sitting loose on the vehicle seat.
4. Do not use a rear-facing child seat in an air bag-equipped seating position.

5. If you car has an automatic belt system, review the vehicle manufacturer's instructions that refer to the system with a child safety seat.
 6. A reliable car seat can cost the same as three tanks of gas - much less than a trip to the emergency room.
7. It only takes a few minutes to secure a child in a safety seat. Consider the correct use of a child safety seat as "insurance" that can be cashed in when you least expect it.

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It's a familiar scene on Ohio's roads - children riding in the open bed of a pickup truck. But this practice is very dangerous and illegal.

Ohio's "Open Cargo" law restricts the transporting of passengers in the open cargo area of most vehicles. Kids don't belong in the cargo area of pickup trucks, whether or the the cargo area is covered with a hard shell. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 200 people die each year as a result of riding in the cargo area of pickup trucks, more than half of which are children and teenagers.

The law prohibits people under 16 years of age from riding in an unenclosed cargo area of a vehicle traveling faster than 25 mph.

Vehicles with open cargo areas include pickup trucks, dump trucks and stake trucks, which are farm trucks with a flatbed floor and a wooden fence around the bed.

Young children should ride in properly installed child safety seats or wear seat belts.

A second provision of the law forbids anyone, except road workers under the authority of a public agency, from riding the the open cargo space of a vehicle when the tailgate is unlatched.

78 E. Main St., P.O. Box 222, Orwell, OH 44076 | (440) 437-1234 | Dispatch 440-272-9111