AAA: DON’T POKÉMON GO AND DRIVE

Game related crashes highlight need to update state laws

MADISON, Wisc. (July 19, 2016) — Pokémon Go has become one of the most popular app based games over the past few days. Those playing the game – identified as “Pokémon trainers” – can be found staring at their phones while walking along city streets throughout the U.S.; but there is danger if those “trainers” decide to play while behind the wheel.

“Trying to catch a Pokémon while behind the wheel is a major distraction and increases your risk of causing a crash,” said Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Put your phone down while driving. Just one quick text or glance to see the next Pokéstop could end up costing you or someone else their life.”

It is estimated at any given daylight hour there are 660,000 motorists using a cell phone while driving in the United States. Distracted driving killed 3,179 people and is responsible for 1 out of every 10 deaths on our nation’s roadways, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

According to preliminary data from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, inattentive driving caused over 100 roadway fatalities in 2015, a 35% increase over the previous year.   Over the past weekend the Dane County Sheriff’s Department confirmed two separate crashes were caused by drivers who admitted they were playing the Pokémon Go while driving.

“Playing games like ‘Pokémon Go’ while driving is a distraction just like sending or receiving a text while behind the wheel,” continued Jarmusz. “Unfortunately, it’s hard for law enforcement officers to crack down because the state statutes do not specifically address gaming or social media applications. Updating the law to address current smartphone capabilities would send a clear message that distracted driving is an unacceptable behavior.”

Drivers engaging in an activity such as texting can remain mentally distracted for up to 27 seconds. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, updating social media on your mobile device is just slightly less cognitively challenging than solving a complicated math problem while driving.

Here are AAA’s top five tips to avoid texting while driving:

1. Silence your cell phone and turn off the vibration mechanism: Airplane mode is a setting available on many mobile phones. When activated, it suspends many of the device’s signal transmitting functions, thereby disabling the phone’s capacity to place or receive calls or use text messaging.  

2. Ask for help: Remind the people in your vehicle to be a good passenger and enlist their help. Ask your passengers to handle tasks such as texting, placing a call or re-programming your GPS.   

3. Ask family, friends and colleagues to respect your commute: Set mobile boundaries and politely ask them not to contact you during the hours of your commute.

4. Place your phone in the glove compartment or trunk: The old adage, ‘out of sight, out of mind’ can be applied here. Wait until you’re at your destination or safely pull into a gas station or rest area to check messages.

5. Download a safety app: Get some technological help. Many mobile safety apps can help discourage texting while driving.
 

About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 56 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

Article written and published by AAA.

 

Boat Safety Tips

Keep the fun on the water coming — whether it’s a fishing boat, a canoe, or a personal watercraft that “floats your boat.”

Operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and speeding are the four leading causes of tragic watercraft crashes and the leading cause of death is drowning.

Crash statistics indicate boaters who wear life jackets and take boater safety courses are most likely to stay safe on Wisconsin waters.

Follow these basic safety tips and enjoy Wisconsin’s great lakes and rivers with family and friends.

Leave alcohol onshore.

  • Never use drugs or alcohol before or during boat operation. Alcohol’s effects are greatly exaggerated by exposure to sun, glare, wind, noise, and vibration.

Use and maintain the right safety equipment.

  • Have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket for each person onboard and one approved throwable device for any boat 16 feet and longer. The DNR recommends that everyone wear their lifejackets while on the water.
  • Have a fire extinguisher.
  • Have operable boat lights – Always test boat lights before the boat leaves the dock and carry extra batteries.  Emergency supplies – Keep on board in a floating pouch: cell phone, maps, flares, and 1st aid kit.
  • Learn about some key equipment to keep you safe:

Paddle Board Safety Tips.

  • Wear a lifejacket! – More than 90% of boat fatalities related to drowning involve victims not wearing life jackets, you need one for your safety. You also need one because Wisconsin law, as well as U.S. Coast Guard law, treats paddleboards the same as kayaks and canoes. This means there must be a personal flotation device for each person on board. However, the best way to obey this law and to ensure your safety is to just wear the life jacket.
  • Carry a whistle
  • Be a competent swimmer
  • Know how to self-rescue
  • Know how to tow another board
  • Know the local regulations and navigation rules
  • Understand the elements and hazards – winds, tidal ranges, current, terrain
  • Know when to wear a leash
  • Be defensive – don’t go where you aren’t supposed to be and avoid other swimmers, boaters, paddleboards
  • Use proper blade angle to be the most efficient paddle boarder
  • And, take a safety course

Be weather wise.

  • Regardless of the season, keep a close eye on the weather and bring a radio. Sudden wind shifts, lightning flashes and choppy water all can mean a storm is brewing. If bad weather is approaching, get off the water early to avoid a long waiting line in inclement weather.

Take these steps before getting underway.

  • Tell someone where you are going and when you will return.
  • Open all hatches and run the blower after you refuel and before getting underway. Sniff for fumes before starting the engine and if you smell fumes, do not start the engine.
  • Check the boat landing for any local regulations that apply. If boating on the Great Lakes or Mississippi River, review the federal regulations for additional requirements.

Loading and unloading your boat.

  • Overloading a boat with gear or passengers will make the boat unstable and increase the risk of capsizing or swamping. Abide by the boats capacity plate which located near the boat operators position.
  • See why it’s important not to overload your boat:

Follow navigation and other rules on the water.

  • Never allow passengers to ride on gunwales or seatbacks or outside of protective railings, including the front of a pontoon boat. A sudden turn, stop or start could cause a fall overboard.
  • After leaving the boat launch, maintain slow-no-wake speed for a safe and legal distance from the launch.
  • Follow boat traffic rules.

Take special cold water precautions in spring.

Cold water temperatures reduce your margin for error on the water: if you fall in or your boat capsizes, you may have as little as two minutes before losing your ability to move your muscles and get back in the boat or seek help.

For more information on boat safety tips visit the Wisconsin DNR website at http://dnr.wi.gov/