Traffic safety exists at that point where the big we meets the little me. Every time we get in a car we put ourselves in the care of all the other driver’s around us. We do it so often we don’t think about it — but we should because whether we acknowledge it or not we are relying on the other driver’s to not run the red light or cross the center line as they go cruising on by. We are all in this traffic thing together. The me comes into play because the big we is nothing more than all us little me’s. There are things I need to do as I drive to honor that unwritten compact that binds the big we. All us little me’s count, both as drivers and passengers, and we can’t ever forget that because even the loss of the littlest me is a tragedy.
The Public Service Department plays an integral part of Chief Peach’s traffic safety team that brings together expertise in education, engineering and enforcement of traffic safety practices. Given the human consequences from accidents, traffic safety is a top priority for both the Police and Public Service.
Everything we do as a City — from filling potholes, to maintaining traffic signals, repairing signs and repainting street markings — is done to ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians that use City streets. We continue to perform these routine functions but we’re also trying to become more aggressive to stay out in front of accident trends, and with the addition of a Traffic Engineer on our staff we’ve been able to re-dedicate resources towards more traffic education and engineering safety measures.
The basic challenge before our traffic safety team is to identify trouble spots within the City’s road network and to apply proven traffic safety measures in order to reduce risk and minimize the chances for driver confusion or error that could contribute to accidents. To meet that challenge, Traffic Engineering monitors traffic patterns, reviews accident records and works closely with the Police and citizens to better understand traffic operations at “the street level” and discern the nuances of driver behaviors.
In the world of traffic safety, predictability and consistency are critical to protecting motorists and roadway changes of any kind, even improvements, have to be done cautiously and incrementally in order to prevent creating more uncertainty and potentially making the problem worse. As a result, Traffic Engineering has to be extremely thorough in its research and evaluation, as well as conservative in its approach to implementing change — all of which takes time.
When it comes to driver safety I really believe that you are truly either part of the solution or part of the problem; there is no middle ground. Each of us, when we get behind the steering wheel, have a choice to honor safety or disregard it. I don’t think that there’s any such thing as a partially safe driver because there is no such thing as a partial fatality and all it takes is one poor choice to take a life. Just like when we got our license for the first time, all of us have to recommit to safety every time we turn the key. Driver safety is a full time job.
Since every good effort needs a title I informally refer to this as the “Everyone Counts” campaign. The premise behind “Everyone Counts” is that every life is important — even 1 fatality is one too many — and every person can contribute to the cause by choosing to drive safer every time out.
We all have a stake in traffic safety and we all have an equal responsibility to drive safe. In a way, the Everyone Counts message attempts to personalize traffic safety back to each of us individually because in reality safe driving depends upon each of us to share the road wisely and make decisions that not only protect ourselves but also the people in the cars all around us.
We depend upon each other to be safe. Driving becomes very personal whenever someone we care about is in an accident, so in the spirit of an ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime of cure — we’re just trying to keep that thought in people’s mind before tragedy strikes. The phrase Everyone Counts seemed to capture the essence of both the problem and the solution.
Tip#1 A yellow light is not an invitation to speed up.
A yellow light means STOP. You’re only allowed to drive through a yellow light if you are already in the intersection or so close to the intersection that stopping would be hazardous. The yellow light is not an indication for a driver to speed up in an attempt to beat the red light. Go for the brakes, not the accelerator.