Yearly Archives: 2014

How to Be a More Attentive Driver

by Denise McCluggage

When you are driving a car the “right thing” to pay attention to is driving that car. The intelligent driver is attending to the exterior surroundings (road conditions and traffic flow), the interior situation (controls, instruments, passengers) and to her own mind set (irritated, alert, preoccupied etc.) That is the ideal.

The reality is that the mere physical demands of just driving are limited. Monkeys and teenagers can do that part with ease, even brilliance, but real driving happens in the mind. To do it well requires more than physical skill. It requires the type of intelligence that pays attention to the right thing at the right time, knows what to do in new situations and how to do what is demanded.

The basics of driving — steering and pushing pedals — can soon be emptied of interest. Then, the mind can wander. Why not? It is enticed by a myriad of things both inside the car and out that are more interesting than simply driving.

Inside the car there are A/C or heat controls to fiddle with, music to be listened to, talk radio to yell back at, cell phones to be answered, Big Gulps to be gulped, passenger chatter to exclaim over, maybe even car-seated baby demands to be met.

Outside there’s the fender-bender to be gawked at, the “1/3 off” sign in the shoe store window to be noted, the new building going up to be checked out, the parking place to be looked for. 

Actual driving seems to demand attention only when something dreadful is pending or has already happened: a car jumps the center divide, an SUV runs a stop sign, a truck loses its load of pipe, a sports car scoots from nowhere across your bow for the exit ramp, a dog darts from between parked cars.

Such things all seem to happen with no warning, but truth be told even “suddenly” is part of an evolution. The intelligent driver knows where trouble is likely to lurk and what situations engender; the alert driver can spot problems developing and not be at the epicenter if they materialize.

How can you as a driver cope with the rain of distraction that pounds on you at every moment? How can you be an intelligent driver? “Pay attention!” you are told. Concentrate! But how?
Here are four things that you must recognize that might help you as a driver avoid the pitfalls of distraction.

Recognize the risks of distractions.

The first step is to realize that any distraction carries risk with it. Your world may stop because you dropped the cassette on the floor, but the world you’re driving in keeps motoring on.

Recognize your own signs of distraction. 

As you drive be self-watchful. Learn to spot the indicators that you are bored or inattentive. Have standard checks. What do you notice in your mirrors? What’s on the left of you? The right? If the scene has changed appreciably from the last time you checked you’ve been woolgathering.

Recognize that a distraction is just an attraction elsewhere.

When you see the lights and congestion of an accident in the opposite lane squelch the urge to gawk. Attend instead to maintaining your distance from the cars near you being aware that their drivers could be rubbernecking.

Recognize the inherent limitations of attention.

Good drivers know how to allot their limited attention to stay on top of any given situation. They also know that concentration often flees from efforts to evoke it. It prefers to be attracted to the task rather than forced and so they find something of interest in the daily-ness of driving that draws interest, that keeps the driver involved in the process of driving.

Once you realize how deadly distractions can be to you as a driver, you’ll find new ways to keep your attention focused.

The Six Most Common Distractions

Radio and CD Players:

  • Learn your system well enough to use by touch and sound alone. When buying a car, opt for fingertip controls on the steering wheel and head-up displays for tuning, if available.
  • CD players require less fiddling. Decide your listening mood before you start and load the machine.
  • Take advantage of the push button or scan devices on your sound system. If you are driving alone do your adjustments while stopped.
  • If you have passengers, pre-instruct them in the use of the controls and let them be your trained surrogate while you’re behind the wheel.


  • Ideally, transport small pets in carriers.
  • Check out pet restraint systems to limit injuries to them in crashes.



  • Belt children in appropriate car seats. If you are tempted to belt them in other ways be sure you stop first.
  • Don’t get involved in inter-child arguments or who-started-it polemics. Forget the “Don’t make me stop this car!” threats. Stop the car. Get it settled. You cannot be an upset mother and an alert driver at the same time.
  • Forbid games that involve tossing a ball or anything else that might get under foot and interfere with the controls.
  • Sure, play the alphabet game and the license tag game with them, but don’t keep score. (You might get emotionally involved.)

Oral Fixations:

  • If you have to eat on the go, prepare simple finger foods before you go.
  • Drinks for in-car consumption should be in closed, spill-proof containers to reduce their distraction capability.
  • If you must smoke while driving, wear something that getting burn holes in won’t upset you.

Cell phones:

  • Use a hands-free device for the phone and keep your hands on the wheel.
  • Understand that it is the conversation itself, not the phone that is the most serious distraction. Keep it light, terse and short.
  • Realize that phone use of any kind slows your reaction time thus lengthening braking time so allow other cars more space.

N.J. stiffens distracted driver fines

New Jersey’s offensive against distracted driving continues, as Gov. Chris Christie signed into law significant increases in fines for those who text & drive or use handheld cell phones. Sponsor state Sen. Richard Codey (pictured) greeted the news with tough talk: “Watch out New Jersey drivers, we’re coming after you if you text and drive,” Read more at

Cell Phone/Hand Held Device Use Policy

RAI recognizes that our employees are our most valuable asset, and the most important contributors to our continued growth and success. RAI is firmly committed to the safety of our employees. RAI will do everything possible to prevent workplace accidents and is committed to providing a safe working environment for all employees. To further this goal, RAI has developed a Cell Phone/Hand Held Device Use Policy effective 3/1/2008.
RAI prohibits employees from using a cell phone while operating a vehicle. If as our employee you choose to make calls while driving, you assume the risk for doing so.

Driver inattention is a factor in a majority of motor vehicle accidents. We are not only concerned about your welfare as a RAI employee, but also the welfare of others who could be put in harm’s way by inattentive driving. Mobile phone and other hand held device use while driving is a common, often harmful, distraction. Effective 3/1/2008, NJ signed into law a bill which makes the use of a wireless handheld telephone or electronic device by the operator of a moving vehicle, a primary offense. Many statistics found the risk of having a traffic accident while using a cell phone or similar device to be the same as driving drunk. For these reasons, drivers may not use hand held devices to place work-related or personal calls while operating a vehicle while on company business. As a driver, your first responsibility is to pay attention to the road. When driving on RAI business or driving while conducting business on behalf of the company in any other manner, the following applies:

Definition – Mobile Hand Held Units: Hand held devices may include cell phones, pagers, palm pilots, faxes and other communication devices.

  • Allow voicemail to handle your calls and return them when safe.
  • If you need to place or receive a call, pull off the road to a safe location and stop the vehicle before using your phone.
  • Ask a passenger to make or take the call.
  • Inform regular callers of the best time to reach you based upon your driving schedule.
  • The only exception to this policy is for calls placed to 9-1-1.
  • If placing or accepting an emergency call, keep the call short and use hands-free options, if available.
  • When receiving an emergency call, ask the caller to hold briefly until you can safely pull your vehicle off the road.

Obey the Law:
RAI is not responsible for any cell phone/handheld device, motor vehicle violations, parking tickets, EZ Pass violations, accidents, damage to property including the vehicle or any other city ordinances or state/federal laws regarding your driving habits and operation/care of your RAI operated motor vehicle. Any tickets issued or costs incurred for any of the above are the employee’s responsibility, even if the ticket/fine is issued while conducting business for our company.

Other Safe Driving Precautions:

  • Use better judgment when road conditions are poor. Limit or avoid driving when rain, snow, or other severe weather conditions threaten your safety.
  • Make an effort to avoid distractions such as eating, paying too much attention to your radio/CD player, or other distracting behavior.
  • Do not drive if your ability to drive safety is impaired by the influence of medications, drugs or alcohol.
  • Laptop computers should never be used at any time while driving.
  • If using a vehicle not your own (rental or otherwise), be sure to properly adjust the mirrors and familiarize yourself with the vehicle’s controls before operating.
  • Be concerned for your coworkers’ safety. Ask them to call you back at a safer time if they call you while driving.
  • Be aware of and practice defensive driving techniques and maneuvers.

To: All drivers of RAI
This policy applies to:

  • Vehicles owned, leased or rented to RAI.
  • Personally owned vehicles driven by employees on behalf of RAI.

The following policy has been established to encourage safe operation of vehicles, and clarify insurance issues relating to drivers and RAI.

  • All drivers must adhere to safety policies included vehicle use and cell phone/hand held device use policy.
  • All drivers must have a valid driver’s license.
  • Motor Vehicle Records may be checked periodically. Driving privileges may be suspended or terminated if your record indicates an unacceptable number of accidents or violations.
  • Should your record fall into our insurance carriers guidelines of an, ‘unacceptable driver’, your employment may be terminated.
  • Your supervisor must be notified of any change in your license status or driving record.

If in an accident:

  • Take necessary steps to protect the lives of yourself and others.
  • Comply with Police instructions.
  • Do not assume or admit fault. Others will determine liability and negligence after thorough investigation.
  • Report the accident to RAI as soon as possible.

11 Tips for a Safe Fourth of July

  • Be a safe swimmer. Water sports and fireworks are two of the biggest pastimes for Fourth of July celebrations, and these are both linked to numerous deaths and injuries each year. Never swim alone, and make sure that kids’ water play is adequately supervised at all times. Many drownings occur when parents and other adults are nearby, so always have a designated chaperone for water play and don’t assume that others are watching the kids. Statistics show that most young children who drown in pools have been out of sight for less than five minutes.
  • If fireworks are legal in your community and are a part of your celebration, be sure to store and use them safely. Keep the kids away from the fireworks at all times, and keep spectators at a safe distance. Attending fireworks displays organized by professionals is always safer than trying to put on your own show.
  • Use alcohol responsibly. Alcohol and fireworks can be a hazardous and dangerous combination. Also, have a designated driver to bring partygoers home from the festivities. Remember also that alcohol and swimming can be as dangerous as drinking and driving.
  • Lakes, waterways, and seas will be crowded with boats. Review safe boating practices, and don’t drink and drive your boat. Alcohol consumption while operating boats or other motorized water vessels is illegal, and you can be arrested for a BWI (boating under the influence!). Be sure that you have an adequate number of life preservers on hand for extra guests. Become familiar with the boating laws in your area.
  • Cover food and beverages outdoors to discourage bees and wasps from attending your party. If someone is allergic to insect stings, you should have an emergency anaphylaxis kit on hand. Wearing shoes, long sleeves, and long pants outdoors and avoiding fragranced body products, bright colors, and sugary drinks can also help prevent bee stings.


National Safety Council Estimates More than 400 Fatal Crashes this Memorial Day Weekend

Council encourages drivers to use 
extra caution to keep our roadways safe

Itasca, IL – The National Safety Council today released its estimates of fatalities from traffic crashes for the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend, which begins at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, May 27. The Council estimates 407 traffic fatalities and another 43,500 medically consulted injuries may occur over the traditional summer kick-off weekend from motor vehicle collisions.

“NSC issues fatality estimates for major holiday periods to draw attention to the need for drivers to exercise safe driving practices, especially when a significant number of drivers are expected to be traveling on our roadways and highways,” said Janet Froetscher, NSC president and CEO.

Based on the data gathered from 2006-2011, fatalities from crashes during the Memorial Day holiday period average 12.86% of the total fatalities in May. Even so, the estimated fatality total for 2013 is 7% less than the average actual number of fatalities that occurred during the previous six Memorial Day holiday periods for which data are available. This is likely due in part to the struggling economy.

It also is estimated that 148 lives may be saved this Memorial Day holiday period by buckling up, and an additional 102 lives could be saved if all wore seat belts.

To ensure a safe Memorial Day holiday weekend, NSC recommends drivers:

  • Refrain from all cell phone use – both hands-free and handheld – behind the wheel
  • Always remember to wear your seat belt and place children in age-appropriate safety seats
  • Allow plenty of travel time to avoid frustration and diminish the impulse to speed
  • Drive defensively and exercise caution, especially during inclement weather
  • Avoid driving while drowsy
  • Don’t drink and drive – even moderate consumption of alcohol impairs reaction time and driving judgment

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is one of the most popular holidays, but it requires careful attention to safety precautions.    A report from the National Fire Protection Association lists Halloween as the fifth highest day of the year for candle fires (behind Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day).

If you use candles, make sure you do the following:

  • Keep jack o’ lanterns and other decorations containing lighted candles away from flammable materials.  Cornstalks and hay bales are highly flammable!
  • Use jack o’ lanterns and other decorations containing lighted candles outside the home, if possible.  Battery powered lights and flashlights are good alternatives to candles.
  • Avoid placing candle-lit luminaries along pathways where trick-or-treaters’ costumes may brush the luminaries and possibly catch fire.
  • Supervise children around lit candles.

Other Fire Safety Tips:

  • Remember that light bulbs also generate heat and can cause fire if they come in contact with flammable materials.  Keep cornstalks and hay bales away from bulbs.  Never drape a fabric ghost or other figure over a light bulb.
  • Buy costumes, wigs and props that are labeled flame resistant or flame retardant.
  • Teach children the “stop, drop and roll” technique in case their clothing catches fire.  (Stop immediately, drop to the ground covering your face with your hands, and roll over and over to extinguish flames.)

Halloween Injury Prevention:

  • Parents or other adults should accompany small trick-or-treaters.
  • Other children who trick-or-treat without parents should follow a planned route within their neighborhood.  Make sure they travel with a friend, never alone, and that they understand they never should enter homes or automobiles.
  • Exercise extreme caution when driving a vehicle.  Be extra careful on Halloween to obey all traffic rules.  Be on the alert for excited youngsters, whose vision may be obscured by masks, darting out into traffic.  Children should stay on sidewalks and cross only at corners – never between parked cars.
  • Trick-or-treaters of all ages should carry flashlights or light sticks so they are visible to motorists.
  • Costumes should be short enough to deter tripping, and masks should provide full vision while not interfering with breathing.  If a dark colored costume is worn, reflective tape can be added to enhance visibility after dark.  Shoes should be sensible for walking.
  • Treats should be inspected at home before they are eaten.  Discard anything that looks as though it may have been tampered with.


September Safety

Every season has its safety issues, and fall is no exception. Here are some helpful September safety tips to help make the fall season safer and healthier for you and your family.

Food Safety

September is National Food Safety Education Month, which is the perfect time to make sure your kids know how to handle food safely. Teach them how to wash their hands properly and put away food before it spoils. It’s fun and helpful to make a lot of meals ahead and freeze them for the fall, but be sure to label them properly to ensure that they are eaten in a timely manner.

Fire Escape Plan

With the lowering temperatures of fall come the use of heaters and the danger of household fires. Create a fire escape plan for you and your family, and practice it a few times. Teach your children important safety tips, such as staying low to avoid smoke inhalation and the stop, drop and roll method of putting out fires on clothing.

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