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Try to be that good example of a safe driver

Posted: August 7, 2017 5:29 p.m.
Updated: August 8, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Like every summer, people across the nation have been enjoying vacations and outdoor activities.  This is a great time of year (as it usually increases my pre-storm fishing trips!) and even though we’re moving toward football, fall activities, and the start of school, I’d like to talk about something quite noticeable to all of us: the traffic.  Regardless of the time of year, or an increase or decrease in traffic overall, we are definitely seeing an increase in aggressive or dangerous driving.  I know I have.  We all get angry driving on the interstate, passing cars with texting drivers or drivers trying to look at social media.  In our fast paced world, there are many people who seem to have forgotten that a vehicle can take a life in a split second.  Even law enforcement officer candidates have to take driver training at the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy and one of my officers assures me it was stressed to her that her police vehicle is actually the deadliest weapon assigned to her.  After all, one moving vehicle can take the lives of a group of pedestrians.  

So, what do we do? 

First, take advantage of all of those things that help us with our younger family members behind the wheel.  If there is an “Alive at 25” class offered in your area, or extra driver training, sign them up!  Check into “text blocking” apps and devices.  And, if you are tempted with your own cellphone while driving, install the app or device in your vehicle too!  Ensure your younger family members have a solid foundation in safe driving and that you are a good role model!

Next, prepare to be attentive while driving.  Actually, think about it for a minute.  Do you check your mirrors, seat and steering wheel adjustments to be sure you’re ready to be attentive?  Do those things.  Set yourself up to be an alert and safe driver.  (And never forget to put that seatbelt on!) Consciously choose to be a safe driver. Once you’re in motion, be attentive.  Be the same type of driver you want on the roadways with you (or your precious friends or family) and if you see aggressive or dangerous driving, or anything you believe to be impaired driving, pull over and report it.  Don’t put yourself in danger, if you can’t pull over safely, have another passenger in the vehicle call.  If you’re driving alone and encounter a dangerous driver, turn off and go another route, or drop back a bit and put some distance between you and the danger.  I certainly do not recommend making eye contact with an aggressive driver as this can appear provocative.  I also don’t recommend vulgar gestures, hollering out of your vehicle window, brake-checking, or anything else that basically puts both you and the other driver in the same category: dangerous.  

The Camden Police Department receives calls from our dispatch office regarding dangerous drivers frequently -- and we hope this continues.  We’ve taken impaired drivers off of our roads after people have called in.  We’ve stopped inattentive drivers that were texting, and believe it or not, we’ve even intervened in a few medical emergencies.  Keep that in mind -- not all seemingly impaired drivers are impaired by alcohol or drugs -- they may be in the midst of a personal medical emergency.  

Camden’s officers try to intercept all vehicles reported for dangerous driving, but I know we don’t get them all. It has been my experience, though, that most leopards can’t change their spots; they’ll do it again and hopefully get caught and stopped before they hurt themselves or someone else.  Just remember to be that safe driver, teach your family and friends to be safe drivers, and call if you see something dangerous.  Remember: Together, we do make our community safer.

(Joseph M. Floyd is the chief of the Camden Police Departmet in Camden, S.C.)

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