Familiarize Yourself With…
The Important Tips & Tricks Through My Eyes
By Kendell Poole | Principal of KPoole Strategic Relations
Former Director of Tennessee Highway Safety Office
National Chairman of the Governors Highway Association
When asked to relate road safety tips and advice, I always try to think back on my times behind a car’s wheel many moons ago - when I was 16-18 years old in the early 1980s.
At that time, we certainly didn’t face the exact vehicle and traffic challenges that you do today. We did have some of the same thoughts as our brain tried to process new things; however, all of the fresh and great ways we do things these days has led to reactions and decisions for you that I never had to make at that age. It’s an essential and particular challenge that I encourage you to take on as a leader in your schools and communities.
The challenge is for you to think of new and innovative ways to successfully COMMUNICATE the message of roadway safety to your peers who desperately need it. Roadway safety isn’t all about our roads’ physical safety like the pavement, asphalt, and signage. All of the things in our society that make life easier for you to navigate also bring “potholes” - pardon the pun - that emphasize good decision-making when you and your friends are behind the wheel. Decision-making is more manageable if someone has all of the facts in front of them. Some may perceive messages in different ways. Find those ways that work. You have tools at your disposal to get the message across that we old folks would have never even thought of. Take advantage of those tools!
Familiarize yourself with some simple statistics on seat belt use by teenagers and COMMUNICATE to your target audience how wearing that seat belt can exponentially increase your chances of survival in the event of a crash.
Familiarize yourself with some simple statistics on alcohol use, getting behind the wheel of a car, how that affects the driver, and COMMUNICATE that to the same audience. And don’t just leave it at alcohol. Include other substances that make us “impaired” in your message. Pills, weed, and other substances count in this category.
Familiarize yourself with some simple statistics on speeding, the disastrous effects on our traveling society all across our great state, and COMMUNICATE how a heavy foot on the gas pedal can be a big deterrent to saving lives on our roadways.
Familiarize yourself with some simple distracted driving statistics and COMMUNICATE to your community how taking your eyes off of the road for anything, for even a few seconds, can be deadly. I tell people all of the time that in my day, it was reading the newspaper, putting on makeup, or fiddling with the radio knobs that caused us to take our eyes off the road. All of our minds are now trained to rely on our phones, and we have to put them down so they can help us instead of hurt us. I love my phone and couldn’t operate my business without it. I seemingly have it attached to me as another limb 12-16 hours a day. It has, whether I like it or not, become a massive part of my life. One decision that I made many years ago was to take that phone out of my hand when I get behind the wheel of a car. You look at all of the statistics on distracted driving, and it scares you if you understand that every statistic means human life. Distracted driving is an epidemic across our country and world that can’t be solved through technology. It has to be a conscious decision in your behavior and the way you make decisions. This is certainly something that we didn’t have to deal with when making our own decisions in the good old days.
I tend to get a little “preachy” sometimes, but you can see that I have tried to couple a road safety message in this blog with the art of communication. All of the technology that has made our lives so much easier can also take away our ability to look someone in the eye and relay a message. YOU CAN DO BOTH! Don’t lose the art of verbally communicating with your friends. It can be a special skill to effectively utilize all of the new social media bells and whistles. I need, and have, to do that in my business to be successful. But we can’t lose the art of delivering a message from the heart – face to face. Use all of your smarts and abilities to get messages across.
Getting the message of road safety across is vitally important. We continue to see well over 30,000 people a year die on our roadways. I dare say that every one of those crashes could have been prevented. The unfortunate part is that every statistic means a life. Only we can change that with our advocacy on the local, state, and national levels. This is where you come in. COMMUNICATE and help us build a groundswell of support for good decision-making when behind the wheel. And do it where you live!