When you’re behind the wheel of a car, driving safely should always be your top concern. It is crucial to know the basics of safe driving and practice them every time you’re on the road. Good drivers are alert, defensive drivers who keep their focus on the road and anticipate other drivers' moves.
Distracted Driving - Heads up Springfield!
Everybody knows that using a cell phone while driving is dangerous, yet distracted drivers are everywhere. While inattention can take up many forms, text messaging is the most alarming distraction, because it requires visual, manual and cognitive attention. Today we know that “multi-tasking “ is not possible when it comes to driving: Your brain either primarily focuses on the cell phone or the road and it can switch back and forth, but it physically can not do both at the same time. Studies have shown that even communicating hands-free leads to deteriorated driving skills, comparable with the performance of drunk drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08%.
Current studies show that more than half of all crashes involve a cellphone.
Make Springfield a safer place and lead by example, put your phone down. Consider taking MoDOT's "Buckle Up - Phone Down" pledge.
Red Light Running - a Dangerous Mistake to make.
In a 2017 national telephone survey by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 93 percent of drivers said it's unacceptable to go through a red light if it's possible to stop safely, but 43 percent reported doing so in the past 30 days.
Every year, red light runners cause hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of injuries across the nation. In 2017, 890 people were killed. Over half of those killed were pedestrians, bicyclists and people in other vehicles who were hit by the red light runners. In Springfield red light running is also on the rise.
Be part of the solution, not the problem. When drivers “scoot through” on red left turn signals, each following the person in front them, they often feel it’s safe and helps clear out the intersection. But the truth is, they only increase congestion by taking green time away from other traffic movements, and make the intersection unsafe.
We encourage you to make Springfield a safer place. Slow for orange and set an example for the drivers behind you. You may save someone’s life.
Seat belts save lives. Period.
The facts are clear: By wearing a seat belts you reduce your risk of serious injury and death by HALF. It can make the difference between a bloody nose or a broken neck.
Yet, in 2018 almost 13% of Missouri Drivers choose not wear seat belts. That is an alarmingly high number compared to the nationwide average of 10 percent.
Sometimes drivers argue that wearing a safety belt is their personal choice, but it’s the law - for good reason. If they get severely injured or killed, it will ultimately affect many lives, not just their own. Further, in a crash there is a chance that an unbuckled vehicle occupant injures or kills other occupants that were buckled up.
In order for a seat belt to work properly, it must be worn correctly: The lap belt snug and the shoulder belt must go across the shoulder, with the occupant being seated in an upright position. This includes pregnant women. Any other configuration will not give proper protection in a crash. It is also important to note that seat belts and airbags work together – a deploying airbag will not keep an unrestrained person in a vehicle and may cause additional injuries.
Sometimes shorter people find seat belts uncomfortable. But their safety depends greatly on how they fit into their car. Seat belt covers, adult booster seat wedges and even break and gas pedal extenders make driving a better and safer experience. Those are readily available online.
Children’s car seats and booster seats must also be correctly installed to reach their safety potential. Car Seat Check Ups reveal that 3 out of 4 car seats are incorrectly installed! You can read more on car seat and vehicle safety here.
25 mph is Springfield's neighborhood speed limit for good reason. Slower traffic raises it the livability of any neighborhood, but most of all, a pedestrian struck at 25 mph still has a very good chance of survival. Learn more about the dangers of speeding and how your commitment to 25mph can curb speeding in your neighborhood.
Do you want to take your driving to the next level? Here are some tips and tricks:
- Always keep your day-light running lights on. Even during the day your vehicle will be much more visible to other drivers and pedestrians. Adjust the settings to make sure the lights are on every time the car is running, not just when the sensor decides it is daylight.
- Check your surroundings! Always keep your eyes moving and alternate between looking up front and then quickly check one of your three mirrors. Don’t check all three mirrors at once, every second glance should be straight ahead. Knowing where other drivers are helps you avoid dangerous situations.
- Learn to cover the horn. Anytime you feel someone is getting dangerously close to you, place one of your thumbs on the horn - just in case you need it. This helps you find the horn in a split second when you really need it.
- Avoid a risky left turn out of a driveway. On very busy roads you may be much safer (and often faster!) if you make a right turn rather than a left. Just turn right and find a safe place to turn around.
- Train yourself to notice the yellow crosswalk signs. Neon yellow signs mark mid-block and school crosswalks. If you see the neon yellow crosswalk signs ahead, check your speed, cover your brake and look ahead to identify any pedestrians that are waiting. If someone is riding your tail, you could even slow down gradually, just in case a pedestrian steps out. Please note that technically, at every intersection there is a crosswalk, whether it is marked or not.
- When turning left or right, always check for pedestrians and bikes before you turn. At major intersections with traffic signals, this may mean to stop before you enter the crosswalk in front of you and inching forward: Sometimes larger vehicles are stopped in the through lanes and they can block your view of pedestrians who have the walk phase.
- Never wave someone forward. It’s a kind thing to do to let someone merge in or let a pedestrian cross. However, waving rushes folks and often implies to others (especially children) that it’s safe, but there could always be other cars that don’t stop like you did.
- See someone with a white cane or a service dog? By law you are required to yield to them – not just at intersections. Sometimes you can help protect them by situating your vehicle where other drivers are more likely to see the person and are less likely to buzz past you.
- Keep the windshield clean inside-out and keep polarized sunglasses ready. The weeks around the fall and spring equinox when the sun is in direct east-west alignment, glare becomes an issue for all drivers. During that time traffic crashes measurably increase. Even during the rest of the year, a clean windshield can make a life-or-death difference during the night hours.
- The City has an array of different traffic control and pedestrian safety devices. Do you know how each of them works? Click here to learn about different types of pedestrian signals.
Learn about traffic signals with the Flashing Yellow Arrow.
Studies have shown that that the flashing yellow arrow better communicates that drivers have to yield to oncoming traffic than just a "green ball". Only the green arrow indicates a protected phase. However, drivers may still have to yield to pedestrians and bikes when turning! The yellow steady arrow indicates that red will be coming shortly and that the intersections must be cleared.