Rules to stay safe on the highway during forest fires

By now we’ve all seen the dramatic pictures of how the forest fires have affected the communities of California. Aside from the harrowing news of people escaping the encroaching infernos is an overlooked threat: highway traffic.

Traffic, even under the best of circumstances, can be dangerous. When you have the added distraction of towering blazes  just off the highway, it only gets more difficult. According to the California Office of Traffic Safety, 80 percent of accidents are caused when drivers are distracted.

Strategies for keeping safe

Whether you commute to work or are just running errands, your safety on the highway should be your top priority. Here are some tips to stay safe while the authorities work to get the fires under control:

  • Do not use your smartphone: California law prohibits operating your smartphone with your hands. This means your device must be hands-free; however, just talking will increase your chances of getting into an accident. Leave any conversations for when you’re parked.
  • Watch out for emergency vehicles: The fires are burning farther and faster than we have seen before and emergency management has been overworked. While our firefighters and police are doing great work for a difficult job, they can still get tired or make mistakes while driving. Make sure you are cautious when you hear sirens or see flashing lights.
  • Obey any signs on the highway: It is doubly important during a crisis to follow the signs and prepare when switching lanes. Don’t wait. Get into the right lane as soon as you realize you have to in order to keep highway congestion down.
  • Give long spaces between you and car in front of you: By giving the car ahead of you a wide buffer, your risks of colliding with the vehicle ahead should it stop short or get into trouble go down. It also helps decrease traffic by allowing people to merge safely into your lane if they need to.

Safe highways mean safe lives

Keeping highways safe should always be a priority. Right now, because of the fires’ impact on our communities, we need to work together to keep California’s highways the safest they can be. If you follow these rules, you will be doing your part to help California move along at a comfortable cruising speed.

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