All posts by Brooke Martin

Distractions Now Join Alcohol and Speeding as Leading Factors in Fatal and Serious Injury Crashes

Multitasking Impairs Performance

We can safely walk while chewing gum in a city crowded with motor vehicles and other hazards. That is because one of those tasks – chewing gum – is not a cognitively demanding task.

People do not perform as well when trying to perform two attention-demanding tasks at the same time. Research shows even pedestrians don’t effectively monitor their environment for safety while talking on cell phones. The challenge is managing two tasks demanding our cognitive attention.

Certainly most would agree that driving a vehicle involves a more complex set of tasks than walking. The brain is behind all tasks needed for driving: visual, auditory, manual and cognitive. Recent developments in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) now allow researchers to see the brain’s reactions to specific challenges and tasks.

What are possible prevention steps?

Eliminating driver distraction due to cell phone use faces significant challenges, even headIcon_v2_combo3_iconsbeyond combating drivers’ desire to be connected and productive. Drivers can
help avoid this by informing frequent callers that they will not participate in phone conversations while driving. When facing multiple demands for their cognitive attention, drivers may not be aware they are missing critical visual information, and they may not be aware of the full impact of that oversight. This lack of awareness of the distraction could prolong it. Widespread education is needed about the risks of hands-free devices, conversation and cognitive distraction.

But even when people are aware of the risks, they tend to believe they are more skilled than other drivers, and many still engage in driving behaviors they know are potentially dangerous. Prevention strategies should consider how people behave in reality, not only how they should behave. We know from other traffic safety issues – impaired driving, safety belts, speeding – that consistent enforcement of laws is the single most important effective strategy in changing behavior. Therefore, prevention strategies that may show the most promise are legislative and corporate policies, coupled with high-visibility enforcement and strict consequences. Technology solutions can go even further by preventing calls and messages from being sent or received by drivers in moving vehicles. To provide safety benefits and provide a positive influence on reducing crashes, injuries and deaths, these efforts – including education, policies, laws and technology – must address the prevention of both handheld and hands-free cell phone use by drivers.

Information From:

To learn more traffic safety tips visit the Safe Communities Website.

AAA Aims to Reduce Distracted Driving

multi-taskingDistracted driving is one of the most pressing issues in today’s traffic safety. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than 80 percent of drivers have admitted to feeling less safe on the roads, citing distracted driving as a serious cause. Nearly half of those people say they felt safer on the roads five years ago due to decreased distracted driving opportunities.

Distraction today contributes to 16 percent of all fatal crashes, leading to around 5,000 deaths every year. The recent focus regarding distracted driving has to do with latency. Latency suggests that even after drivers put their cellphones down or stop the distracting behavior, it takes an average of 27 seconds to fully engage with the driving task again.

The AAA Foundation is dedicated to the belief that knowledge is power, and educating citizens is the first step in reducing distracted driving. One way is to help others understand the mental and physical distractions that can impair drivers and educate drivers on how to avoid the distractions. Such education efforts are an attempt to eliminate needless deaths due to distracted driving.

To learn more traffic safety tips visit the Safe Communities Website.

Tips for Dealing with Tailgaters

Tips for Dealing with Tailgaters 

Tailgaters suck! While changing motorists’ driving behavior is unlikely, there are steps you can take towards a safer driving experience. First, always remember to stay cool, and do not let their poor behavior affect your judgment and ability to drive safely –– your life is worth more than road rage.

When you are being tailgated, maintain a safe and steady speed, and let the tailgater pass if possible. It may be necessary to find a safe place to pull over. In this case, signaling early is important to let the tailgater know you are letting them pass. To prevent a close call or potential collision, increase your following distance, communicate your intentions early, and use smart lane positioning. Increasing your following distance by at least 3 seconds allows ample time to react and slow down if necessary.

To learn more about traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Website.

Why Traffic Safety

Bowers head shot

Lt. William N. Bowers, Commander
Bowling Green Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol

We all know the slogans: Click It or Ticket,” “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” “Stay Alive, Don’t Text and Drive,” and “Watch Out for Motorcycles.” We hear them every day, but do we really take them to heart? Do we honestly follow these messages every day?

The messages are simple and catchy, but only 81% of all drivers in Wood County wear their seat belt. In 2016, seat belts were worn in only 31% of fatal crashes, 13% of fatal crashes involved alcohol, 5% of all crashes involved some type of distraction, and 34 crashes involved motorcycles. These numbers are disturbing to me as well as my staff as we strive to keep you save on Wood County roads.

We all need to do our part to make Wood County a safer place to live and travel in. Look twice at each stop sign you stop at every day. Follow the speed limit, both in town and on the interstate. Buckling up is the most important safety measure you can take to protect yourself in a crash as it helps keep you safe and secure inside your vehicle. Seat belts are also the best defense against impaired, aggressive, and distracted drivers. Put your phone on vibrate, place it out of reach, and give 100% of your attention to driving.

Lastly, be an example to those in your car. Your children are watching every move you make, and you are grooming them for their habits as drivers. Parents often subscribe to a “do as I say, not as I do” mentality, but studies show parents are unknowingly sabotaging their teen drivers by not practicing what they preach. Parents figuratively beat teens over the head with the “never text and drive” message, yet many do it on a regular basis. Some 47% of teenagers have witnessed their parents driving without wearing seat belts. Let’s practice what we preach!

Guest Columnists Welcome 

This article showcases just a sample of the great programs and research conducted by Safe Communities colaition partners! Our goal is to reduce the number of traffic related deaths and injuries in Wood County through analysis of problem areas, promotion, and education of proper safety. This could not be done without collaboration from the community. Help us continue to spread awareness by writing a guest column.

Submit an Article 

Have an article that is related to traffic safety and would benefit the community? We would be happy to share it in our monthly newsletter!

To submit an article or write a guest column, contact Sandy Wiechman: or 419.372.9353 

To learn more about traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Website.

Upcoming Event: Towards Zero Deaths Safety Network

Upcoming Event

Towards Zero Deaths Safety Network 

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Safe Communities of Wood County is hosting the quarterly Towards Zero Deaths Safety Meeting on April 11 in the Bowling Green State University Bowen-Thompson Student Union Theater. Join us for a presentation by Dr. Paul Atchley, professor   and associate dean for academic innovation and student   success at The University of Kansas. Dr. Atchley has been  conducting research and educating people about the cognitive factors related to driving for more than twenty-five years, and his work has been highlighted by national and international media outlets including the BBC, NPR, “Katie” with Katie Couric, Rock Center, and the New York Times.

This month Safe Communities of Wood County is highlighting Thayer Chevrolet. Since joining the coalition in 2013, Thayer Chevrolet has been extremely active behind the scenes. From helping to ensure that the “Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride” campaign is operational, to hosting press events, Katie Beakas and the Thayer Chevrolet staff are always there with a smile and encouragement.

When you are out and about, stop and thank Katie Beakas, Tony Lake, Trevor Newby, and Brett Kime of Thayer Chevrolet for their commitment to supporting Safe Communities of Wood County.

This meeting provides attendees an opportunity to build relationships with various disciplines involved in traffic safety, foster professional development on topics related to traffic safety, and recognize outstanding work by safety professionals across Ohio. Reservations are required.

For more information, contact Sandy Wiechman at 419.372.9353 or

Event Recap


Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride | New Year’s Eve Recap 

The 2016-17 New Year’s Eve “Swallow Your Pride, Call for a Ride” campaign event was a success. Safe Communities of Wood County began offering rides at 11 PM on December 31, and concluded the event at 4 AM on January 1. The event served a total of 147 people, which is down from 200 people served the previous year. We also saw a reduction in the number of volunteers in addition to the number of vans, which was reduced from 4 last year to only 3 this year.

Safe Communities always enjoys working alongside local organizations and businesses to benefit our community, and we are grateful to the community members who help make this event possible every year. Thank you to all the volunteers who donated their time to spread the message of driving sober. This continues to be a very welcome and rewarding program for the City of Bowling Green.

For more information on traffic safety and our upcoming events, visit our Traffic Safety Website.