It May be Mad March But You Can Still Drive Safely!
Something happens on our roads during March. Maybe it’s just March Madness parties coinciding with the celebratory mood of St Patrick’s Day. Suddenly, the traffic is crazier than usual.
Then we have spring break here in LA at the end of the month, putting more young pedestrians on our roads and sidewalks. And we all know how much attention many youngsters pay to road safety – like, not a lot.
And, as our sporadic rainfall at the start of the month demonstrated, slick roads create an additional hazard for early spring drivers.
One way or another, March is a good time to add an extra measure of caution to your driving.
St Patrick’s Day and March Madness Safe Driving Tips
Let’s take a quick look at the two big mid-month events first.
Even though LA has a fairly low Irish American count and we don’t have any major events, that doesn’t stop us enjoying the local celebrations, parades and festivities of the day.
(See this TimeOut guide to find out what’s happening here).
This year, St Patrick’s Day falls on a weekend, which likely means more people, more traffic and more road safety risks.
It’s one of the deadliest days of the year on our highways. Make sure you don’t become an accident victim.
So, if you’re planning to join the celebrations, here are a few simple driving tips to be aware of:
- First, be aware that others are celebrating too and they may not be as cautious or sober as you, so be extra vigilant in your driving.
- Same goes for pedestrians. Watch out for unsteady revelers on sidewalks and at crossings.
- Plan your journey in advance – both going and returning, taking account of published information about traffic disruptions and road blockages.
- If you also plan to enjoy an alcoholic beverage or two, simply don’t drive – agree on a designated driver in your group, take a cab or use public transport.
- Download the Designated Driver VIP app for your smartphone. It’ll help you locate bars that have free incentives, like non-alcoholic drinks and appetizers for your safe driver.
- As last year, we can expect the LAPD to beef up its presence over the St Patrick’s Day weekend. There will likely be both saturation patrols and license checkpoints. You have been warned!
- If someone you’re with takes a few drinks and insists they’re okay to drive, encourage them to hand over their keys and arrange for transportation back home for them.
Pretty much the same rules apply to March Madness revels. But there’s one more important thing:
- Absolutely don’t consider streaming games onto your mobile when you’re behind the wheel -- and discourage your passengers from streaming too because of its potential for distraction.
More March Driving Safety Tips
You’re likely still getting used to the return of Daylight Saving Time earlier this month.
It’s a challenge for most of us because we have to start our working day an hour earlier, which, for some at least, means a darker start to the day.
Experts say it can take quite a time for our bodies to adjust to the switch – and one group of researchers in Germany even says our bodies never properly adjust.
So, if you’re still struggling, you now know why! And if you can’t adjust your body/brain, how about adjusting your driving?
For example, you could
- Allow extra time for your morning commute
- Drive more cautiously if you’ve had to switch from light to dark
- Remember some other drivers may be having a struggle even greater than you, so look out for them
- Have an extra cup of coffee before you leave home!
- If you’re really sleepy, don’t drive. Stop if you’re already behind the wheel and plan a safe way to continue your journey. You may be late for work, but at least you’ll get there in one piece.
Focus on Students
Young people take the safe-driving focus towards the end of the month.
On March 24, Southern Californians will join students across the United States in the nationwide March for Our Lives campaign in the wake of the Florida school shooting last month.
Whether you agree with their protest or not, if you happen to be in the vicinity of Pershing Square you could be in for a whole stack of driving diversions and increased road hazards. Watch out!
And that brings us to Spring Break, which, for most public schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District, runs from March 26 through April 2, which also happens to be the Easter weekend.
If your drive takes you past parks, playing fields and tracks, around malls and other public areas be prepared to encounter more young students at play.
While you’re keeping your eyes peeled for revelers and students, don’t forget the road surface directly in front of you.
After last month’s flash floods, some LA roads are still awaiting repairs. Look out for potholes – and if, by any chance, we have any more sudden bursts of rain, watch for those oily, slick surfaces.
One More Thing
On our increasingly busy roads, driving is still a risky business, even for the most cautious of drivers.
The change of seasons is a good time to review your auto insurance.
It’s a bit like spring cleaning – making sure everything is in order for the busier times ahead.