Driving a car is both a privilege and a responsibility that makes our lives easier. We owe so much of our daily freedoms and conveniences to our abilities to get behind the wheel and go where we choose. Don’t believe me? Then think back to the last time your mode of transportation failed you. Think about that time you went to start your car only to find the battery dead; or when you were stuck on the side of the road with a nail sticking out of a flat tire. Nothing brings to light the convenience of owning a car like having to go without one even for a few hours.
Cars and trucks are a wonderful and often necessary part of successfully getting through your daily life. The problem is that too many people take this convenience for granted. They view their ability to drive as a right and proudly make statements about owning the road. These people tend to drive aggressively. They speed. They tailgate. They make all the other drivers around them nervous by failing to be decent human beings while behind the wheel of their cars.
As a Personal Injury Attorney in practice for over 40 years in the Virginia and Maryland areas, I’ve seen ebbs and flows of traffic collisions caused by aggressive drivers. But over the past decade, I’ve noticed an alarming trend and data from the National Highway Statistics back me up. The number of traffic related deaths and injuries has been steadily rising for the past decade.
So, when I came across a recent article about the Fairfax County police department’s new “ROAD SHARK” campaign, it made me a very happy man. (See link for the full article at the bottom of this blog.)
Road Shark is described as a high-visibility and coordinated enforcement and education effort to deter aggressive driving, reduce crashes and change driving behavior.
The Fairfax County Police Department (FCPD) will have officers in high-visibility areas all over the county. They will be looking for traffic violations including aggressive driving, tailgating, excessive speeding, driving under the influence and school zone violations to name a few. They will be targeting areas with high crash rates. Along with their ticketing initiative, they will work on community education efforts to make drivers more aware of the potential dangers of aggressive and reckless driving.
Good for them.
Good for us.
There is never an excuse for bad behavior on the road. It doesn’t matter how urgently you must get to where you’re going. Causing dangerous situations that put you, your passengers, and the drivers around you in danger is never a viable solution.
Speed limits are there for a reason. Tailgating and erratic driving are traffic violations for a reason. Safe driving practices are important and save lives. So, be a good driver and a decent human being. Recognize your ability to drive as the privilege it is and take responsibility for your behavior behind the wheel.
In an effort to keep our roads safe and keep the ‘Sharks’ at bay, here are some important driver safety tips.
- Never text or make a call while driving. This slows your reaction time and makes you more likely to cause a collision. Put your phone out of reach in the car and leave it there.
- Make sure you’re never guilty of road rage or tailgating. This type of reckless criminal behavior is ridiculous and deadly. Just don’t do it.
- Don’t eat while driving. Distracted driving is distracted driving. Whether you’re distracted by your phone or your cheeseburger, the result is the same—decreased reaction time and an increased likelihood of a potentially deadly collision.
- Obey speed limits and traffic signs. They are there for a reason. Pay attention to posted speeds and traffic signals and drive, with safely getting to your destination in mind.
- Never, and I mean NEVER drive if you’ve been drinking, using drugs, or taking prescription medications that in any way impair your senses. Impaired driving puts you and everyone on the road with you at risk. It is reckless, illegal, and unethical. DON’T DO IT.
- Wear your seat belt and make sure everyone in your vehicle has their seatbelts on before you get on the road. Seatbelts save lives. I’ve seen this personally time after time with men and women I meet who’ve been in an auto collision whose safety belts saved their lives.
So, what do you say we all pledge to acknowledge our privilege of being able to operate a vehicle and pledge to be safer and more attentive drivers…and in Fairfax County, if you don’t…the Road Shark just might get you.
Lastly, if you or someone you love is ever injured in an auto collision, please reach out to my office at 703-761-4343 or 301-1515. We are here to help in every way we can.
Until next time, please be safe and NEVER text while driving!
Attorney Paul Samakow