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"By far, the hardest part of my job is working with the families left behind after an accident - and it's a million times worse when that accident could have been prevented," says celebrated lawyer Gerry Marcus, owner of the Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus, Inc. As a public service to the Santa Clarita community, the legal expert, who was recently named a Super Lawyer for the third time, shares these tips for safer driving. "My first goal is always to help prevent an injury from happening through education," says Marcus. "And if an accident still occurs, my next goal is to gain as many resources for the victim as possible so that they can heal and move on with their lives."
Don't Drink AND Drive
"Buzzed driving is drunk driving. Wait it out, have a cup of coffee or call Uber. Even if you don't get into an accident and die or severely injure yourself and/or others, you'll run a real risk of ruining your life. Our no-tolerance laws can put a breathalyzer in your car (Try explaining that to your kids!), your license on suspension and your rear in jail, not to mention force you to pay fines and penalties. About one-third of all drivers arrested or convicted of drunk driving are repeat offenders. If alcohol is a problem for you or someone you love, get help."
Wait to Answer Texts AND Calls
"It's illegal to text and talk on a handheld phone while driving, but that doesn't stop many people. Five seconds is the minimal amount of time your attention won't be on the road when you're texting and driving. If your speed is 55 miles an hour, you'd drive the length of a football field without looking at the road. Even if you think that it's ok 'just to check real quick' while you're stopped at a light, please reconsider. We've seen the number of rear-end accidents rise because people get distracted by their phone at a light and their foot slips off the brake or they gun the engine to catch up after a light turned green and they didn't notice right away."
Don't Drive Tired
"The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drowsy driving was responsible for 72,000 crashes, 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths in 2013. However, these numbers are underestimated and up to 6,000 fatal crashes each year may be caused by drowsy drivers. It's estimated that one in 25 adult drivers will report having fallen asleep while driving in the last 30 days. This might be the best justification yet for hitting the snooze button and getting more sleep."
Don't Drive Distracted
"We've seen it all - terrible accidents because people are doing what seem to be the most innocuous of tasks. The primary culprits: driving while eating, applying makeup and managing children. Never forget that multitasking while in command of a thousand-pound machine will eventually end badly. If most of us can't cook an egg without burning it while also doing something else, why would we think doing more than 'just driving' would work out differently?"
Don't Drive Medicated
"I hear it from friends and family all the time: 'Oh, that drugstore allergy medication makes me so sleepy!' Just because it's not a prescription med with a big warning sticker doesn't mean that over-the-counter medicines are safe to consume when it's your day to drive the carpool. Take your meds after you safely arrive at your destination."
Make sure your Child's Car Seats are Properly Installed
"The fact is, 90 percent of children's car seats are installed incorrectly. The Santa Clarita Valley Birth Center regularly offers car-seat checks, as does the California Highway Patrol. And keep your little ones back-facing for as long as possible. The evidence is irrefutable; this is the safest way to transport your young child. If you're worried about not being able to see your little one while you drive, or if they are more comfortable being able to see you, install a mirror. This minor inconvenience very well could save your child's life, so don't rush them into a bigger forward-facing seat. Remember: California's Child Passenger Safety Seat Law requires children to ride in the back seat of a vehicle, either in a car or booster seat, until the age of 8 or until they are 4 feet 9 inches in height. "
The Law Offices of Gerald L. Marcus boasts 14 offices, including one in Santa Clarita. 661-296-2992