Have you ever driven your car and just totally blanked out and said to yourself, “Where am I?” Do you pay attention to your surroundings and the movement of vehicles around you? At times, do you find yourself distracted while driving?
Do you know what to do in case of an emergency and how to call for help? Have you ever wondered what items you should carry in your vehicle in case of emergencies?
A month ago, I was traveling through Alabama and Tennessee visiting family. I noticed that, as I drove, my mind would wander and I would suddenly say to myself, “Hey! Pay attention and know your next cross street.” We all do this while driving, but the problem is this: When an emergency happens, do you know where you are?
Many of you will be traveling to relatives’ homes for the holidays. Here are some tips to make your trip more enjoyable:.
▪ Whether we are driving with our families or driving to and from work, we need to stay alert and aware. What if the unthinkable happens? How will you tell someone where you are? Yes, cellphones are a blessing, but they have made us dependent. Instead of simply relying on devices, know your location. Cellphones can be helpful in determining your location. That being said, be aware of your cross streets and landmarks.
Another way of leading emergency responders to your location is to read the mile-post markers. They are white, rectangular and located on the shoulder of the freeway. Keep your eyes out for these markers, and if you need to read the information to the dispatcher, read the marker just as it appears. This information will direct the officer responding to your location. Help us out, so we can help you out!
▪ Limit distractions in your vehicle. I have found if I put my cellphone in my bag and place it in the rear of my vehicle, I am less distracted. I know if I hear my ring tone, I want to pick it up, just like you. I have had to train myself to put the cellphone in the back, where I can’t grab it. Next, limit the radio distraction by turning it down to a dull roar. I was guilty of blasting my tunes until I figured out I wasn’t paying attention to vehicles around me.
▪ If an emergency happens while driving, such as a flat tire or a collision, try to get to a safe location. If you are uninjured and your vehicle can move out of the traffic lanes, please move to the right shoulder. Do not block traffic lanes or get out of your vehicle and stand in the traffic lanes. Never place yourself in a position where you can get injured. If you need to call 911, please know your location. Emergency personnel can better assist you if you can give the dispatcher your correct location.
▪ Just because your car is new or appears to be in good condition, there is no guarantee problems won’t arise. Vehicles break down, and not always in a busy, well-lighted, cloudless, warm spot, with flawless cellphone reception and a tow truck close.
▪ With the anticipated “Godzilla El Niño” we are reading about, I want you to be prepared for possible emergencies. Here are a few things you should carry in your vehicle: Cellphone and its charger, jumper cables, water, nonperishable snacks, blanket, gloves, rags, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit.
Keeping everyone safe is the CHP’s ultimate goal. Remember, know your location, pay attention, limit distractions and carry an emergency kit in your vehicle. Happy holiday driving, everyone!
California Highway Patrol Officer Traci Gallian’s “On Duty” column publishes bimonthly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.