The New Year will be here Tuesday, which means many people are making resolutions and setting goals. The usual things that top many lists are losing weight, getting a new job or taking a great vacation. All of these are perfectly fine ambitions, but it is my hope that more people will resolve to drive more safely in 2008.
Already this year, more than 1,000 people have died on South Carolina roadways. The causes behind these fatalities are varied, but the end results are usually the same -- somebody is left behind to plan a funeral, to grieve and to try to find a way to move on.
As we usher in 2008, I propose the motoring public consider the following 10 resolutions to make our roads safer for all.
• I resolve to obey posted speed limits. Speed limit signs are not merely suggestions. The signs represent the law. Law-abiding citizens obey them.
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• I resolve to always wear a safety belt while operating a motor vehicle. Even on short trips. A safety belt is the only defense against drunk drivers, who strike anywhere at anytime.
• I resolve to require passengers in a vehicle I am driving to buckle up as well. Unbuckled passengers can literally become deadly projectiles within a vehicle during a crash.
• I resolve to secure a child in a properly installed child passenger safety seat when traveling in my vehicle. More than 90 percent of children riding in child passenger safety seats are riding in an improperly installed seat.
• I resolve never to drive while under the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. In 2006, South Carolina ranked as the third deadliest state among all states for the percentage of traffic deaths which were alcohol-related (50 percent).
• I resolve to avoid using a cell phone while driving. Operating a motor vehicle safely requires the driver's full attention. Avoid distractions at all costs.
• I resolve to avoid drowsy driving. Driving while deprived of proper rest or sleep has dynamics similar to that of impaired driving. Be thoroughly rested before taking the wheel.
• I resolve to use protective equipment (helmet and other protective gear) and to wear conspicuous clothing while riding my motorcycle. In 2007, South Carolina set a new record for motorcycle fatalities in the state with 119 through December 16. This eclipses the previous record of 106 set last year by 12.3 percent.
• I resolve to travel appropriately through school zones and work zones. Children coming to and leaving from school and workers in construction zones are especially vulnerable. Exercise care in negotiating a vehicle near them.
• I resolve to cultivate courtesy in my highway interactions. Avoid road rage and aggressive driving. We do not operate motor vehicles in a vacuum. A person's actions on the roadway always impact others.
• If more people take these resolutions to heart, perhaps we can move South Carolina's roads closer to being highways, not dieways.