By TODD DAHL
Crow Wing County Sheriff
For most of us, driving is like breathing. We look forward to the day we obtain our license and many of us have had one, in good standing, for several years. However, the driving experience has changed immensely over time with the added heavier traffic, distracted drivers, new roadway features such as roundabouts and forced us to adapt in an effort to sharpen our defensive driving skills. Defensive driving is described as being aware of your surroundings, no ticket, no crash and no harm or hassle to others on the road. In plain and easy to remember English, it is common sense driving. The following is a list of what is referred to as defensive driving:
• Follow traffic signs and signals all the time with no exceptions. A stop is referred to as complete cessation of movement which means “rolling stops” are not acceptable.
• Check mirrors and blind spots, and use your signals before turning and or making lane changes.
• Stay alert and remember to scan the roadway for hazards. The animals are very active at this time of year and can jump out in front of your vehicle in an instant.
• Don’t drive distracted which means remained focus on the driving and nothing else. Text messages, talking on a cell phone and eating while driving can wait.
• Allow extra time for weather conditions and drive adjust your driving speed to the conditions. Remember ... If you get to your destination late at least you get there.
• Do not get behind the wheel if you have been drinking alcoholic beverages or drugs. This should be a no-brainer and should have been well thought of in advance of driving.
• Keep vehicles in good repair. It is your responsibility as a driver to have your headlights, taillights, tires and windshield wipers in working order.
• Don’t ride the bumper of the vehicle ahead of you. Leave a distance that you can react to. Remember the saying “action is quicker than reaction.”
• Share the road with others such as trucks, bikes, pedestrians and motorcycles.
• Use your seat belts and always remember to place children in age-appropriate car seats or booster seats.
• Keep your cool while driving and don’t drive aggressively. Don’t let the actions of others affect your driving. Concentrate and remain focused on the road.
Being a driver on our area roads is not a right that is spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. Driving is a privilege and should be treated as such. By recognizing what we can and can’t do on our area roads will certainly help us all to remain safe during travel.
Sheriff Todd Dahl can be contacted at 304 Laurel St., Brainerd, MN 56401; 829-4749; or at firstname.lastname@example.org.