Bad driving is a security issue

Bad driving is a security issue

Dodging OVI prison time in Youngstown is a bit of a cottage industry. A few years back, the term for such offenses was changed in the Ohio Revised Code from DUI. Around town people still say that they graduated from “that DUI class.” How serious is the problem? Recent federal statistics indicate that between 30,000 and 35,000 people die in auto accidents each year in the U.S., and about half are alcohol-related.

Rule No. 1: Use the horn. Anyone else who has worked in a factory with powered industrial trucks know a horn beep is not an insult, it is saying ‘I want you to be sure you know I am here’ when there is doubt. And make eye contact when you see someone creeping up to a light or in a parking lot. That tells you they see you. If it is safe to come to a dead stop, and wait for the eye contact, then do so. Safety first – appointments later. Do not drink alcohol and drive.

Why write this? Because my time as a safety officer was all good from 1989-1991. We had a three man safety management team that had zero fatalities and few serious accidents at a major international university. We had several vehicle fleets including a commuter bus line in operation, a hospital, a power plant, a dozen residential buildings, a scientific research complex, a law center, and academic buildings (probably 30,000 people in total). My training in fleet safety came from the National Safety Council in Chicago. My professional “heavy” driver’s license came from the US Army.

The best thing I learned and taught was to keep a following distance of at least two seconds. In foul weather, open it up more. Good following distance increases your stopping distance and gives you time to get stopped if you or the other driver makes an error.

Some of the new cars have self correcting anti-spin systems, but safety courtesy will never go out of style as a means of avoiding the emergency room. Everyone makes mistakes, but blaming conditions for the results of bad driving is out and always was for me. Parking lots are always dangerous places — the military speed limit in a parking lot is 5 mph.

We all make mistakes, but we all can train each other to get better. We need to recognize that saving lives on the road is a good goal.

Patrick Pacalo, Youngstown

Truth is stranger than fiction

One sentence about the Snowden Affair: This will make a great movie plot.

Mary Beth Barbush. Canfield