Safe Communities promotes safe driving in city

Distracted+driver

Distracted driver

Dominic Ferrante and Dominic Ferrante

According to an October 2018 CNN article, heart disease and cancer are no longer the leading causes of death, it is now “unintentional injury,” which includes distracted driving. At BGSU, one group is proactively fighting to prevent distractions behind the wheel.

Safe Communities of Wood County has been working to keep Bowling Green drivers safe now for seven years. The group released a statement on Thursday announcing, “There have been zero fatal crashes in Wood County this year compared to zero at this time last year. Let’s keep this trend going!”

The organization’s coordinator, Sandy Wiechman, said her goal is to stop distracted driving altogether. While she also noted it is impossible to stop this completely, she will do all she can to help prevent it.

To promote safe driving habits, Safe Communities supports campaigns in Wood County : “Click It or Ticket,” “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Watch Out for Motorcycles.”

Wiechman and her team, including police, firemen and city workers, meet quarterly to discuss all the traffic incidents that have happened. They take each crash and analyze why it happened and how to prevent another from happening.

This past New Year’s, Safe Communities provided a ride home to anyone who was unable to drive. This year, they were able to help 83 people get home safely.

“I would have loved to provide more rides, but we just couldn’t keep up with only two vans,” Weichman said.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol reports in Wood County over the past five years there has been a total of 364 crashes involving distracted driving.

Not only does Safe Communities focus on teens, but it also works with senior citizens.

“Senior citizens think of distracted driving as playing on the phone, but it is way more than just that,” Weichman said.

One group Safe Communities works with is CarFit. CarFit works with senior citizens to help them to adjust to their vehicles. CarFit’s motto is to “help mature drivers find their safest fit.” Safe Communities is planning to meet with every senior home in Wood County to teach elder drivers how to properly adjust their vehicle.

Cars are also working to prevent distracted driving.

“Cars are coming out with more and more technology to keep drivers safe,” said Levi Heldman, the event/marketing coordinator at Reineke Family Ford Dealership in Findlay, Ohio.

One feature offered to keep young drivers safe is called “My Key.” Ford offers this feature similar to a valet key. With this feature enabled, parents have the capability to put restrictions on a special key. One of these restrictions promotes seat belt use. When the feature is activated, the driver cannot use the radio unless their seat belt is fastened.

Another feature Ford offers in their new vehicles is called “Forward Collision Warning.” This feature is used to help warn drivers of potentially dangerous situations. If the car detects the distance between two vehicles diminishing, the system will compare the vehicles current speed and determine if a collision will occur. If the vehicle determines an accident is likely, it will alert the driver with a visual and audible warning.

“At a certain point, we have to take responsibility for our own actions and can’t rely on the car,” Heldman said.

There are steps individual drivers can take to increase their safety behind the wheel. In its Thursday press release, Safe Communities recommended following these rules:

  • Look for traffic stopping up ahead to avoid slamming on the brakes.

  • Leave space between cars.

  • Drive within the speed limit.

  • Do not drive if too tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  • Drive carefully in poor conditions.