Defensive driving is the course of action

Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2007

This is in regards to Claude Epperson's March 15 letter to the editor. I don't think the state and local governments are out to get us. They are not secretly helping special interest groups as Epperson has stated, and they can't control the weather.

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The city of Juneau and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities are doing their best under the circumstances to keep up with snow and ice removal. As an article in the March 7 Empire states, government employees have put in 12 to 18 hours per day, even with outside help. According to the news, many states down south are battling with the same weather problems, which are causing major traffic accidents. Does Epperson think their governments are out to get those folks too?

It's not the lack of road maintenance that's causing the majority of the accidents. People should stop blaming the government for their misfortune. It seems to me that up to 90 percent of the accidents are caused by operator error. Driving faster than road conditions allow and driving too close to the person in front of you, are the biggest problems. Failing to yield, not using turn signals or headlights, driving under the influence, not scraping the snow and ice off all of your windows, and distractions such as cell phones, smoking, playing with iPods or CD players, eating and drinking in the car, are also common problems. You have to drive defensively, especially in the winter. It's just a fact of life if you live here.

Most accidents are avoidable. Just because the speed limit says 55 doesn't mean you can drive that in the winter. Slow down. You should have several car lengths between you and the car in front of you. Those of you who are over cautious should keep to the right. Driving too slow can sometimes be just as dangerous. Make sure you can see out all of your windows. Try to limit distractions as much as possible. It only takes a few seconds of taking your attention off the roadway to have an accident. Try to keep both hands on the wheel and your eyes and ears open so that you're not only paying attention to what you're doing, but also the other drivers.

I was born and raised in Juneau. I've been driving these roads for the past 30 years and, by the grace of God, I have never had an accident. I am not, by any means, a perfect driver. We all make mistakes sometimes. Just do the best you can and drive safe Juneau.

Betsy Giles


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