Happy 2018! January is a time for fresh starts. As we kick off a new year, many of us set goals to improve physically, personally and/or professionally. While you're writing down those resolutions, how about making a few safety resolutions?
To make sure you keep your New Year's resolutions, set specific, achievable goals. For example, commit to eating one extra serving of vegetables each day instead of vaguely vowing to "eat healthy."
With that in mind, I'm giving you a list of specific, easily achievable goals to help you drive, bike and walk around town more safely. By adopting smart habits (some of which are the law), you're less likely to find yourself in a painful, expensive accident.
1. Eliminate the road rage.
According to a AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety survey, about 80 percent of U.S. drivers became angry and aggressive or engaged in road rage at least once in the past year. Don't be one of them.
If you're running late, honking, yelling and flipping off the driver in front of you isn't going to get you to your destination any faster. So take a deep breath or two and give people the benefit of the doubt.
2. Look ahead.
Look significantly ahead on the freeway for brake lights, backed-up traffic or police lights. Anticipating a slow-down will help you avoid a rear-end collision.
3. Stop distracted driving.
About 10 percent of fatal crashes involve distracted driving. Research shows that fiddling with a cell phone or sending a text using voice commands distracts the brain for 27 seconds. That's long enough to run a red light, rear-end another driver, or hit a bicyclist.
Commit to device-free driving for 30 straight days. That means, no cell phones (not even hands-free), no iPads, no eating, shaving, smoking, putting on lipstick, or fiddling with a GPS.
4. Stop distracted anything.
The no-text rule applies when walking or cycling, as well. When crossing a busy intersection, watch the road, not your phone.
Remove at least one of your earbuds so you can hear what's going on around you. And by all means, stay off your phone when you're bike-commuting to work. You need to stay alert and keep your hands near the brakes around car, pedestrian and bike traffic, which entails its fair share of emergency stops and swerves.
5. Wear a helmet.
Bike helmet use reduces head injury risk by at least 50 percent. Sure, you may be able to ride from Jack London to Uptown without incident, but why gamble with your life? Always wear the helmet.
6. Stay visible.
Less daylight means you're more likely riding in the dark to and from work. Front and rear lights are mandatory for both seeing and being seen. Don't leave home without them. Local bike shops, as well as online retailers such as Nashbar, carry a range of affordable lights.
7. Avoid the right hook.
The right hook occurs when a motorist makes a right turn into a cyclist's path, cutting her off. Granted, the driver should watch and give the cyclist space; however, the cyclist can also take precautions to avoid a collision.
First: rely on actions over turn signals. Next, look left at the approaching driver. Make eye contact. Signal and veer left to take the lane. The driver can then pass on your right to complete the turn.
8. Use your turn signals.
Your automobile has turn signals for a reason. For your own safety and as a courtesy to everyone else on the road, use them. For at least 100 feet before you turn right, left or change lanes, flick on your turn signal. Cyclists: same goes for hand signals. Learn them and use them.
What other road safety resolutions will you make for 2018? Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
Photo courtesy of BazaarBizarreSF, Flickr.