2014 Index of Articles

Distracted Driving The Element of Surprise
Motorcycle Safety Resolutions

2015, 2013, 2012



Distracted Driving
June 2014

Have you ever noticed how quickly and dramatically your life can change? One moment you are a carefree young person singing to the radio and the next moment you’re tangled up in a car crash. You may be a college student driving to class or a young mother with precious cargo in tow, never expecting to get rear-ended at the stop light. You may be planning your wedding today and someone else planning your funeral tomorrow.

Our lives pass so quickly. Nowadays, time almost flashes like a sizzling firecracker; explosive, quick, colorful, and then, gone. This past week, I’ve heard law enforcement friends checking out on the radio to make the dreaded next-of-kin notifications out of fatal crashes, I’ve seen the photos of fresh-faced troopers and seasoned police officers from around the nation who have been killed in the line of duty.

We may somewhat grasp the concept that we all have a date, time, and a place to die, but I think most people are a lot like me. I think we push away, scrap the notion, and outright ignore the truth that life is fragile and fleeting.

As I drove into Oklahoma City this past week, I observed people rushing to work while holding a cell phone up in front of their faces. Too busy with staying connected that they couldn’t wait until they stopped their vehicle before they answered that text or “Liked” a friend’s photo on Facebook. I observed the driver of a pickup swerving all over the roadway as he retrieved something that had fallen in the floorboard of his truck. I saw so many “close calls” this week it was frightening. It’s my opinion that people would pay more attention if they knew how dangerous taking their eyes off the road for even a second was.

I could tell you horror stories of crashes caused by distracted driving, I could list reasons why you should never let a mobile device, GPS, passenger or even your satellite radio keep you from focusing 100% of your attention on your driving, but I won’t.

Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to experience the high price of distracted driving for yourself before you realize it’s not nearly worth the cost. I’m hopeful that someone reading this will commit to stopping their dangerous habits before it’s too late. Before that irreversible, life changing event catches you off guard and you find yourself saying, “It happened so quickly,” or “In a fraction of a second my life was forever changed.”

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Motorcycle Safety
April 2014

You know it’s officially spring when you see masses of leather clad people on motorcycles cruising the Oklahoma roadways. We all have our favorite things we enjoy doing outside when the weather is nice and I’ll be the first one to admit that I love to ride motorcycles. I have a beautiful blue Harley ‘Road King’ sitting in my garage right now, but I’m more of a “fair weather rider.” If it’s too hot, too cold or too windy I’m at the house. I’m not ashamed to admit that. Who wants a ride to be miserable? Not I! I bring this topic up to make mention of a couple of things you may or may not be aware of.

First off, Oklahoma has a couple of laws pertaining to motorcycle safety. Regardless of what you have heard, we do have a helmet law. It pertains to minors. If a person under the age of 18 is operating or riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, they must wear a helmet. Personally, I think everyone should wear a helmet, but that’s because I’ve seen some pretty nasty motorcycle crashes and I’ve had some friends lose their lives on motorcycles. I speculate that they wanted to feel the wind through their hair. Or that they chose to look cool over being safe. Either way, my message to you if you ride is always wear a helmet.

The second law pertaining to motorcyclists is eye gear. If you’ve ever sustained an eye injury you know how little it takes for your eyes to get damaged and how if one eye is hurt the other wants to close and water in sympathy. That is why we have an eye protection law. It isn’t about restricting your freedom to ride without eye gear, it is to protect the other motorists and pedestrians that you would possibly come into contact with once you’ve got a bug in your eye (and you will if you don’t wear eye protection. Even if you have a windshield!).

I’ll close in saying that if you are a motorcyclist or a friend of a loved one who rides, encourage them to always wear a helmet and eye protection. Lastly, watch out for motorcyclists. We know it’s spring time and we aren’t use to having some many motorcyclists out on the roadway, but be thinking about double checking your blind spots before changing lanes, use those turn signals to indicate to other motorists where you intend to go and always look twice before pulling out from any stopped position. The life you save could be mine!

Be safe out there.

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The Element of Surprise
March 2014

I’m occasionally asked to speak about women’s safety topics in my travels around the state and I often find myself on the learning end of such speaking engagements. That is exactly what happened recently when speaking at the Shawnee Area Home Builder’s Association. A lady in the group works for a Shawnee area bank and she relayed a frightening story about a foiled bank robbery at her branch bank. I’ll regurgitate the story for you as best as my feeble memory allows. Here goes…One evening, as the bank employees were preparing to close up for the day, three men in hoodies entered the bank and immediately asked to use the rest room. As soon as the three hooded men slipped into the rest room, the tellers gathered behind the counter and discussed what they should do. My friend decided to take action. She told the younger women to stay behind the counter and to phone the police while she distracted the would-be robbers.

My friend claims that she pulled out her “Crazy Card” and psyched the men out with her actions. She grabbed a tray of stacked Styrofoam cups and entered the main lobby area and waited for the three men to exit the men’s room. As soon as they stepped back into the lobby, my friend took the tray of Styrofoam cups and approached the men while speaking loudly. She fumbled with the tray and dropped the cups all over the floor at the men’s feet and then started yelling. She complained loudly to the three men about the dropped cups which she claimed another employee had stacked incorrectly. While continuing to yell about the careless cup stacking, she picked up the cups while swinging her arms wildly. The men; confused and somewhat disoriented, stepped back away from the crazy woman. Meanwhile, she was herding them backwards toward the glass front doors and yelling like a madwoman until all three men unknowingly were through the first set of doors and locked out of the bank. When the would-be robbers realized they were empty-handed and locked out of the bank they made a run for it. A bank hold-up and who knows what else was averted thanks to a quick thinking senior bank teller and her “Crazy Card.” Something to think about if you find yourself out-numbered or out-gunned.

Be safe out there, gals!

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Resolutions
January 2014

Another year has passed and I consider what, if any, resolutions I should consider making for 2014. You’re probably considering resolutions as well. I’d like to challenge each OPD student to consider these resolutions if you haven’t already tackled them: “In 2014 I resolve never to text while driving, never to email while driving, never to post, like or read Facebook while driving.” Further resolutions to consider include: “My New Year’s Resolution is to always wear my seat belt; every trip, every time. I resolve to NEVER drink and drive…even one alcoholic drink.”

These are just a few ideas of some easy resolutions that you can consider for 2014. Your friends at the Oklahoma Highway Patrol are resolving to provide safety and security for you and your family again this year. Our resolution is to provide quality, courteous service to you and every motoring person on our interstates and highways throughout the great state of Oklahoma. Join us by doing your part to ensure your own safety by resolving never to drink and drive, to always wear those safety belts and ensure that the little people in your vehicle are properly restrained as well.

Happy New Year!

Betsy

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