Safe driving, safer summer

Now that the warm summer weather has arrived, many of us will be spending more time on the roads.

Whether it is for work, visiting family and friends, or simply getting around town, Connecticut Residents will take to the highways, and as always, safety must be a top priority. This summer, I urge Shelton residents to always be mindful of their surroundings and to avoid distractions when driving.

Even the most careful drivers can be involved in collisions, and factors beyond our control like rain increase the likelihood of an accident. Still, personal responsibility is crucial to improving overall safety.

Property damage from traffic accidents can cost thousands of dollars to our City. This is an important reminder that driving is not without risk, and that individuals must do what they can to minimize that risk.

Today, drivers face many more distractions than ever before. The likelihood of a collision increases dramatically when drivers, especially younger ones, are distracted by cell phone calls and text messages.

All drivers, particularly younger ones, should be especially careful to minimize distractions while driving.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Don’t text and drive. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports a quarter of teens respond to a text message once or more every time they drive. Additionally, NHTSA reports that the average text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. While traveling at 55 miles per hour, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded.

  • If you can, while behind the wheel, keep your phone off. This will help ensure drivers’ focus remains solely on the road. NHTSA reports that engaging in tasks like reaching for your phone, dialing and texting increases the risk of getting into a crash threefold.

  • Never get behind the wheel if you’ve been drinking and don’t get in a vehicle with an impaired driver. According to the Center for Disease Control, in 2015, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31 percent) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States.

  • Obey the speed limit. Speeding is a major contributor to motor vehicle accidents and fatal car crashes. Don’t feel pressured to speed to keep up with traffic or friends on the road. Also, speeding tickets are often pricey and will result in an increase on your insurance premium.

  • Be a defensive driver. Remain cognizant of the traffic ahead, behind, and next to you at all times. Stay at least one car length behind the car in front of you, especially in areas where the speed limit is slower.

Remember to share the road with bikers on side streets, even if arrows are not marked. Turn your headlights on to increase visibility.

Here at the Shelton Police Department we want everyone to enjoy their summer, but do not want anyone to risk becoming a statistic.

Shawn Sequeira began his career with the Connecticut State Police in 2006, working at Troop A (Southbury). He then was assigned to the Major Crime Squad at Troop I (Bethany), leading investigations of political corruption, police shootings, homicides, bank robberies and arson cases. He assisted in the Newtown school shooting investigation. Sequeira has a master’s degree in human resource development, is a certified police instructor, and has been an adjunct instructor at Albertus Magnus College. Sequeira has been the Interim Chief of Police for the City of Shelton since October of 2015.