The Amesbury Beat: Know, follow, obey the rules of the road | Local News

Over the past several years, I’ve taken the opportunity in The Amesbury Beat to dedicate a few columns each May to the topic of traffic safety.

Although we often associate the term, traffic, with motor vehicles, there are many forms of transportation sharing our roadways. We live in an area with a variety of public ways, carrying many different types of traffic, each with unique concerns and issues. Public ways vary from interstate highways carrying thousands of vehicles daily to rural routes where horseback riding is common. When it comes to getting from one spot to the next safely, everyone has a role.

Passenger vehicles are the most common means of traffic today and operators have the most rules and regulations to follow, courtesy of crash data. Unfortunately, car crashes have become all too familiar in every community, despite advances in occupant safety, equipment upgrades, roadway design and driver education.

Safety belts and air bags work together and have saved thousands of lives, so be sure to buckle up before every trip. It’s safer for children to ride in the back seat as long as they are properly restrained. Parents and caregivers need to choose the correct car seat for younger riders and assure older children properly wear a safety belt. It’s important to check with a child safety seat technician if you have questions about the right system for your smaller passengers.

It seems everywhere we turn there’s a sign saying you have to do this or you can’t do that but most are posted for a very good reason. Too many signs can be just as dangerous or confusing as not enough but laws and regulations are crucial, especially as traffic volume increases. Driving is actually a very complicated task, involving education, constant practice and training.

Most happen when you are behind the wheel, along with the bad habits that drivers develop. The bad habits, occupant distractions, poor choices, inexperience and errors can contribute to a number of consequences; near misses, road rage, a citation, court case or traffic crash. While we may not agree with every posted sign, be familiar with each traffic law, know all the rules of the road or immediately learn of a change, they usually work. Considering how many vehicles are using our roadways each day, driving is still a pretty safe way to go.

Several traffic laws have become more like guidelines, especially speed limits, which is unfortunate and dangerous. One of the most dangerous practices behind the wheel is using a cellular phone; for calls and texting, hence, why most states have banned the practice.

Even when going hands free, please assure your attention is given to the roadway. You’ve got to be careful when following another vehicle, changing lanes, making a turn or approaching a dangerous situation, such as a work zone or disabled vehicle. Let other drivers know what you’re doing by using turning signals and four-way flashers. It’s also advisable to refrain from displaying hand gestures when interacting with a bad driver; road rage has become too common and very dangerous.

Lastly, over 150 pounds of medication were destroyed on Saturday after the spring Take Back Day. If you missed it, a kiosk is available in the lobby of the Police Station.