Top 10 safety rules for the end of summer By John J. Meola, CSP, ARM, Safety Director for Pillar, Inc.

1) If traveling by car over Labor Day weekend, plan your trip to avoid night driving; learn how to spot an impaired driver. Use extra caution over any long weekend. Buckle up, and use a designated driver when needed. Sobriety checkpoints will be all over Virginia.

2) As schools go back in session, be aware. If there are school bus stops on your commute, plan for delays; traffic generally will increase after Labor Day and cause more congestion. Allow extra time for your commute. Never try to beat the bus when its warning lights are activated, and give pedestrians a lot of extra room.

3) Glare from the rising and setting sun can be blinding at this time of year in the early morning and early evening. Use good quality sunglasses to help reduce glare. Use extra caution in and around intersections; a change of direction into the sun can be blinding.

4) Pedestrians and cyclists should wear high-visibility garments when walking or riding, and be conscious of how they will appear to oncoming drivers, i.e. stay in clear lines of sight and try to walk or ride in protected areas. A kid carrying a backpack is partially obscured. Add some high visibility fabric to his or her clothes.

5) Deer season is starting now. Use caution while driving in rural areas in the early morning and late at night. If you see an animal in the road, brake; do not swerve. Moderate your speed in areas with known deer populations.

6) If your vehicle breaks down, try to get off the pavement; all occupants should get out and go to a place of safety away from the vehicle, which is usually upstream from the vehicle. Deploy some type of warning device such as flares or triangles or a white cloth; do not compromise both sides of a road. Notify 911 immediately.

7) If you are stuck in a traffic jam or even in line at a light, leave sufficient space ahead of you. A recommendation is four seconds space cushion at all speeds. A slow-moving line of vehicles is a rear-end crash waiting to happen. Do not crowd an intersection.

8) Use appropriate caution when backing up. Check all around the vehicle before moving, and account for all passengers.

9) Watch where you set the infant car seat when loading the car. Pick a safe area away from the vehicle. Use extra caution on driveways, especially if they are on an incline. Use the hand or foot brake to secure the weight of the vehicle. A lot of horrific accidents occur in and around residential driveways and streets. They can be deceptively dangerous despite the familiarity and low-speed environment.

10) Hurricane season usually extends to around Columbus Day. Flash floods can be sudden and severe; high winds may hit with destructive force. Trees and limbs are likely to fall. Some folks seem to think that because it’s an emergency and the power is out that all the normal safety rules no longer apply. Not true.

John J. Meola can be reached at

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