Tips for Motor Vehicle Drivers
Living on an island has many advantages. Year-round sunny weather. Plenty of beautiful beaches. Access to fresh food such as seafood, fruits and vegetables. Beautiful tropical landscape. The list goes on.
Of course living on an island also has its disadvantages. For many of us on Oahu, it’s the congested roadways. How often have you found yourself sitting in traffic trying to get from point A to point B, even in short distances? We may get a reprieve during the summer months, but with July coming to an end, many of Oahu’s public school students will be returning to the classroom starting next week. This means that the roadways will be congested once again, and many drivers will have to plan ahead if they want to get to their destination on time.
With this in mind, we thought that we’d take this opportunity to share some helpful driving tips for drivers in order to keep the roads safe for everyone who uses them – motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. Many of these guidelines can be found in AAA Hawaii’s Sharing the Road: A Guide to Safe Bicycling in Hawaii which has a section with many useful tips for motorists.
Be Cautious and Considerate
When operating a motor vehicle, it is important to remember that more vulnerable users are counting on you to help keep them safe. Drivers should stay alert and avoid distractions such as texting and eating. This is especially important on roadways where it is common to see bicyclists and pedestrians.
· Reduce your vehicle’s speed when approaching bicyclists and pedestrians.
· Avoid using your car horn near bicyclists and pedestrians as this can cause them to swerve into traffic or off the roadway.
· Do not tailgate, especially in inclement weather.
Yield to Cyclists and Pedestrians
Bicyclists are considered drivers of vehicles which means they have the right to share the road and travel in the same direction as cars.
· Allow extra time for cyclists to navigate intersections, and pedestrians to cross roadways at designated crosswalks.
· When parked on the side of a street, always look around your immediate area for passing bicyclists before opening your car door.
· Be on the lookout for cyclists and pedestrians before exiting a parking space or driveway.
· Scan for bicyclists and pedestrians in traffic and at intersections.
Pass with Care
Always pass with caution without interfering with the safe operation of bicyclists. Before passing, drivers should make sure that the road and traffic conditions are safe.
· When sharing a road with a cyclist, wait patiently behind them and pass to their left when it is safe.
· Give at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists on the left.
· Check over your shoulder before moving back.
Turn Only When Safe
Oftentimes, bicyclists travel faster than drivers think they do. Because it is hard to gauge their speed, drivers should slow down and yield to bicyclists, have turn signals on and check blind spots before proceeding with any turns.
· When turning right, be aware of the possible presence and speed of bicyclists in the shoulder or right side of the lane who may be approaching from the rear.
· When turning left, be aware of the possible presence and speed of bicyclists from the opposite direction.
· Don’t rely solely on your rearview mirrors. Turn your head to look for bicyclists and pedestrians.
Watch for Children
Children riding bicycles are unpredictable. Therefore, drivers should expect the unexpected in the presence of children. We cannot expect children to know the traffic laws, and due to their size, sometimes it can be harder to see children.
· Slow down when children are riding their bicycles.
· Yield to children who are trying to cross the walkways.
Oahu’s roadways may be crowded, but if motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists are mindful of each other, they also can be safe for everyone to use on a daily basis.
For more safe driving and bicycling tips, check out AAA Hawaii’s Sharing the Road: A Guide to Safe Bicycling in Hawaii.
Photo courtesy of Pronto Cycle Share, Seattle