Danger lurks around even the simple tasks

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Ted Weibel
  • 71st Flying Training Wing chief of Safety
Every day you get into your vehicle to run errands, drive to the store and come to work. Sounds simple enough. Get in, buckle up, start the car, put it in reverse, pull out of the driveway, close the garage door and off you go. 

You've done this a thousand times so what is the problem? If you are lucky, nothing. But there is plenty of danger lurking closer than you might think. 

In your neighborhood and on-base, you're too comfortable with the environment and your guard is down. But there are some real hazards. And yes, they happen every day here in Enid and even recently resulted in deaths. 

Before you get in your car, look around. Build some situational awareness about what is going on and what obstacles might be in your way when backing up or pulling out. 

Are there children's toys under your back bumper? Is a trash can on the curb or a car parked close by that normally is not there? Is there something blocking your view, creating a blind spot? 

All of these inputs are visible by making a 360-degree visual sweep of what is around your car. 

Before you back up, buckled up, check your mirrors and actually looked over your shoulder for that sneaky neighbor's kid. Don't rely on those fancy reverse alarms to let you know if someone or something is behind you. 

Check for traffic -- all traffic -- to include bikes, cars, kids, pets and the garbage truck. Go slow and drive in reverse only as far as needed to pull away from your parking spot. 

Your neighborhood is like a dynamic obstacle course. Look closely at what is going on. Which kids are playing in the street? Who is walking their dog, jogging or taking their baby for a wagon ride? 

Pay attention to them because they aren't paying attention to you. Don't be distracted by adjusting the radio, making a phone call or -- heaven forbid -- texting. 

Outside your neighborhood things change a little. You drive faster, more cars are flowing in the same direction and there are fewer pedestrians. You'll probably come across a cyclist or two. 

Unfortunately, many Enid streets do not have sidewalks or extended bike lanes, making the road even more crowded. There is a good chance that if you clip a cyclist heading down Garland or Oakwood at 45 mph, somebody is going to get hurt. 

When you leave your vehicle and become a cyclist, jogger, pedestrian or parent of a child, keep the following ideas in mind. 

· Playing in a street is only safe when the street is closed. Yards and parks are better choices.
· Joggers and pedestrians should use the sidewalk and look both ways before crossing the street.
· Reflective gear and bright colors make you easier to see.
· Listen as well as look - be aware of your surroundings. Don't wear headphones.
· Children are unpredictable. 

Bottom line: Understand your surroundings when mixing vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Each has a right to safely use the road.