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The Importance of Slowing Down at Intersections

Have you ever run a red light? Perhaps you overestimated your ability to make it through the intersection in time. Or maybe you were distracted, adjusting your radio station or – gasp!– texting.

If you have blown through a red light, hopefully it didn’t result in an accident. (And hopefully it sufficiently panicked you to never do it again.) Obviously we’re here to tell you to pay attention to your surroundings as you drive, and if you’re coming up on a yellow light, just play it safe and stop.

Everyone should slow down a bit when they’re approaching an intersection, because you never know what might happen. A light might suddenly change, or a pedestrian or bicyclist could dart out in front of you.

It’s ALWAYS best to be cautious behind the wheel.

We’re sure you’ll agree that drivers shouldn’t run red lights, and they should pay attention to the road in order to avoid running a red light. But what if you’re the one with the green light?

You just GO, right?

As Orange County’s finest driving school, we at Safety 1st teach all our students to drive defensively. That means always being aware of your surroundings and trying to anticipate what other drivers might do (and what could go wrong), then preparing accordingly.

Here’s a perfect example: this young man got sideswiped by a minivan driver. He had the green, the minivan driver ran the red light and here’s what happened. He just so happened to have a dashcam in his car, which recorded the whole incident. Take a look:

Scary, right? Hopefully no one was hurt, but we are thankful we can use this video as another teaching tool of a REAL LIFE example of when things go wrong. That accident could have been deadly, folks. No joke.

So when YOU are approaching an intersection with the green light, here’s what we want you to do:

  • Look ahead. Start anticipating the intersection well before you come upon it. Scan left and right for signs of pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorists approaching the intersection from the other directions.
  • Slow down. Again, you never know when the light might suddenly change, or if a pedestrian or bicyclist will dart out into the street. (Or, when someone will blow through a red light.)
  • Focus. If there was ever a time to NOT fiddle with your car dials or answer a text message, it’s now. Be alert and free from distractions, because crazy things can happen in an intersection before you even know what hit you (no pun intended).
  • Look left and right…Assume nothing. See that skateboarder? Don’t assume he is waiting for the crosswalk signal. See a car approaching? Don’t assume they have noticed their red light.

You only have control over yourself. That’s true in life, and it’s certainly true behind the wheel. Take control of your own safety by being cautious and driving defensively. Anticipate what other drivers might do and plan accordingly. Your life could depend on it!

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