Driving is an enormous responsibility. When you grip the wheel you’re holding your own life and the lives of others in your hands. Always obey the rules of the road. Subtract the distractions, especially cell phone use, that take your eyes and mind off the road. And, most importantly, watch for pedestrians, bicyclists and other vehicles. They have a right to the roadways, too.
Speed kills! Obey all speed limits. A pedestrian hit by a car going 40 mph has an 85% chance of being killed. At 20 mph the risk is reduced to 5%.
Come to a complete stop at stop signs and red lights.
Avoid distracted driving, aggressive driving, and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Signal your turns and look both ways before changing lanes, turning, and at driveways.
Expect the unexpected around curves and over hills where visibility ahead is limited.
Don’t rely on eye contact to confirm that a cyclist or pedestrian sees you. They might not.
It’s safer to assume they don’t see you.
Watch for Bicyclists
Bicyclists have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers, and are allowed to ride in the travel lane.
Expect bicyclists in the travel lane, and let bicyclists ride as far to the right as is safe. Give them space to avoid hazards like potholes, debris, and drain grates.
Keep at least 3 feet of space between your vehicle and a bicyclist – it’s the law.
Be aware of actions that could startle a bicyclist: Don’t blast your horn, don’t pass a bicyclist if you’re immediately turning right, and make sure you won’t cut a bicyclist off before moving back in your lane.
You may cross the center line to pass a bicyclist if it’s safe and does not interfere with oncoming traffic.
Be vigilant at intersections. For left turns, yield to oncoming cyclists. For right turns, always check for cyclists behind you to avoid cutting them off. Assume cyclists are traveling straight unless they signal otherwise or are in a turn lane.
Mind the door zone: Check for bicyclists before opening your car door so you don’t hit them, and open the door with your right hand to force you to look over your left shoulder for bicyclists.
Watch for Pedestrians
Yield to pedestrians at an intersection:
Every intersection is a crosswalk, even if it’s not marked.
Do not stop in a crosswalk.
Be patient: Give disabled pedestrians plenty of time to cross the street.
Rushing them endangers their safety.
Do not pass a vehicle stopped at a crosswalk in the event there is a pedestrian crossing that you cannot see. Stop and proceed when all pedestrians have crossed the street.
Do not drive on a sidewalk, except to cross it to enter or exit a driveway or alley. When crossing, yield to all pedestrians.
(Adapted from Bike Walk CT’s “Give Respect, Get Respect.
Share the Road, Connecticut” www.bikewalkct.org)