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Dave Mirra
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»Tribal Traffic Safety Coalition

The WMA Fire & Rescue Department has evaulated seatbelt and car seat use at a number of sites within the community, and the results are dishearting. Only 1 in 10 native people were noticed to be restrained while the vehicle was in motion. Of the non-indian population, 5 of 5 were noted to be seatbelted. Of all the children that we saw in a moving vehicle, none were seat belted appropriately or at all. We observed children standing up in vehicles, sitting on the laps of adults, and riding in the back of pick-ups. We also observed a number of parents and/or guardians putting their kids in car seats, but not belting them in.

According the Center for Disease Control, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and the number one killer of people between the ages 1-34. Figures on the White Mountain Apache Tribe present similiar findings. To help combat the number of people being injured and killed from motor vehicle crashes the Tribal Traffic Safety Coalition was established.

The Tribal Traffic Safety Coalition's mission is to reduce traffic-related injuries, while promoting the safe use of alternative modes of transportation. The primary focus is on motor vehicle crashes. The Coalition educates all road users in safety practices to decrease the risk and severity of collisions, and advocates for improved conditions to make all methods of transportation safer.

The coalition meets at 1:30 pm on the 2nd Monday of each month at Fire Station 1 - Whiteriver. Members of the community are welcomed and encouraged to attend.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Motor Vehicle Safety

Child Passengers

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among children in the United States, but many of these deaths can be prevented. Placing children in age- and size-appropriate restraint systems reduces serious and fatal injuries by more than half.

  • Children should not be allowed to sit on the lap of the driver, stand in vehicles (front or back), sit in back of trucks, or sit in adult seats while the vehicle is in motion.

  • Seat all children ages 12 years old and younger in the back seat and be sure they are properly restrained every time they ride in a motor vehicle–even during those quick trips to the store.

  • Read both the car seat instruction manual and your vehicle owner’s manual to make sure you are properly installing and using the seat. One study found that 72% of nearly 3,500 observed child restraint systems were misused in a way that could be expected to increase a child’s risk of injury during a crash (NHTSA).

  • Send in your car seat registration card so that the manufacturer can contact you about any recalls.

  • Children should start using a booster seat when they grow out of their child safety seats (usually when they weigh about 40 pounds). They should continue to ride in a booster seat until the lap/shoulder belts in the car fit properly, typically when they are 4’9” tall (NHTSA 2006).

There are four seating positions for children, they are:

If you are unsure as to which seat your child should be in, visit your nearest fire station and ask.

Drinking & Driving

The WMA Fire & Rescue Department reponds to over 250 motor vehicle crashes a year. Over half of these are alcohol related. In the United States alone, someone dies in an alcohol-related crash every 31 minutes.

Driving involves multiple tasks, the demands of which can change continually. To drive safely, one must maintain alertness, make decisions based on ever-changing information present in the environment, and execute maneuvers based on these decisions. Drinking alcohol impairs a wide range of skills necessary for carrying out these tasks.

Don't become a statistic. Below are some basic things you can do to help reduce the number of alcohol related crashes.

  • If you are drinking, do not drive. If you plan to drink, designate a non-drinking driver.

  • Support the strengthening and vigorous enforcement of impaired-driving laws. These laws save lives.

  • Young drivers are at particular risk to be involved in alcohol-related crashes. If there is a young driver in your family, strictly enforce a zero tolerance policy with alcohol. All states have a 21-year-old drinking age law.

  • Your best defense against a drunk driver is wearing your safety belt.
Common myths associated with drinking and driving are listed below.
  1. Coffee will wake me up enough to drive safely.

    Only time will rid your body of alcohol. Caffeine in coffee will make you jittery but it cannot keep you alert and restore judgment lost to alcohol consumption.

  2. I stay with beer and never drink the hard stuff so I’ll be fine to drive.

    Alcohol is alcohol. A 12 oz beer has as much alcohol as a 1.5 oz whiskey or 5 oz of wine. Many people who believe this drink more beer and become more intoxicated than if they had only consumed one or two whiskeys.

  3. Bigger people can handle their alcohol better so they can drink and still drive.

    The first drink of alcohol begins to slow your motor skills, vision and judgment. It is true that body size does figure in the rate alcohol affects you, but you must also consider individual metabolism, the amount of rest you had and when you last ate. All of this makes for some very complex calculations regarding when you are safe to drive.

  4. As long as I roll down the window and get some fresh air I’ll be fine. I’ll turn up the radio really loud. I’ll splash cold water on my face.

    One more time – Alcohol is alcohol is alcohol. Time is the only way to lower your blood alcohol level. Cold wind or cold water in your face will not return your alertness, motor skills and judgment.

  5. When I’ve been drinking, I compensate by driving very slowly.

    Drinking and driving is not safe at any speed. In fact, even driving too slowly will make you a traffic hazard and could cause a crash.

Bicycle Safety

Did you know that in the event of a crash, wearing a bicycle helmet reduces the risk of brain injury and head injury by as much as 85 to 88 percent? Unfortunately, estimates on helmet usage suggest that only 25 percent of children age 5 to14 wear a helmet when riding a bike; for teen riders, the percentage using a bicycle helmet is close to zero! Children and adolescents’ most common complaints are that helmets are not fashionable or “cool,” their friends don’t wear them, or they are uncomfortable and too hot. Bicycle riders also say that they do not think about the importance of bicycle helmets or safe bicycling habits, nor about the need to protect themselves from injury, particularly if they are not riding in traffic.

One of the first steps in teaching children about bicycle safety is to be a role model – “practice what we preach.” To better ensure that children understand bicycle safety and engage in life-long bicycle safety behaviors, adults need to demonstrate the desired behaviors when cycling including wearing a helmet and following the rules of the road.

  • Obey traffic rules. Get acquainted with ordinances. Cyclists must follow the same rules as motorists.

  • Know your bike's capabilities. Remember that bicycles differ from motor vehicles; they're smaller and can't move as fast. But, they can change direction more easily, stop faster and move through smaller spaces.

  • Ride in single file with traffic, not against it. Bicycling two abreast can be dangerous. Bicyclists should stay as far right on the pavement as possible, watching for opening car doors, sewer gratings, soft shoulders, broken glass and other debris. Remember to keep a safe distance from the vehicle ahead.

  • Make safe turns and cross intersections with care. Signal turns half a block before the intersection, using the correct hand signals (left arm straight out for left turn; forearm up for right turn). When traffic is heavy and the cyclist has to turn left, it is best to dismount and walk the bicycle across both streets at the crosswalks.

  • Never hitch on cars. A sudden stop or turn could send the cyclist flying into the path of another vehicle.

  • Before riding into traffic: stop, look left, right, left again, and over your shoulder.

  • Always be seen. During the day, cyclists should wear bright clothing. Nighttime cycling is not advised, but if riding at night is necessary, retroreflective clothing, designed to bounce back motorists' headlight beams, will make cyclists more visible.

  • Make sure the bicycle has the right safety equipment: a red rear reflector; a white front reflector; a red or colorless spoke reflector on the rear wheel; an amber or colorless reflector on the front wheel; pedal reflectors; a horn or bell; and a rear view mirror. A bright headlight is recommended for night riding.

  • Wear a helmet. Head injuries cause about 85 percent of all bicycling fatalities. We strongly urge all cyclists to wear helmets. The first body part to fly forward in a collision is usually the head, and with nothing but skin and bone to protect the brain from injury, the results can be disastrous.

  • In March 1999, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a uniform, mandatory federal safety standard for all bike helmets. All helmets manufactured or imported for sale in the U.S. must carry a label or sticker stating that they meet the requirements of the new standard. Cyclists who currently have a helmet that meets the ASTM, ANSI or Snell standards do not need to rush out to buy a new one; these helmets provide adequate protection. However, when it's time to replace a helmet because it has been outgrown or damaged in a crash, buying a helmet that meets the CPSC standard is recommended. The helmet should fit securely and should be worn low and near the eyebrows— not back on the forehead.

Source: National Safety Council

Skateboard Safety

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more than 15,600 persons need hospital emergency room treatment each year for injuries related to skateboarding. Fractures are a frequent type of injury. Deaths as a result of collisions with motor vehicles and from falls are also reported.

Irregular riding surfaces account for more than half of the skateboarding injuries caused by falls. Wrist injury is the number one injury, usually a sprain or a fracture. Skateboarders who have been skating for less than a week suffered one-third of the injuries. When experienced riders suffered injuries, it was usually from falls that were caused by rocks and other irregularities in the riding surface.

The skateboard/protective gear
  • There are boards with varying characteristics for different types of riding; i.e., slalom, freestyle or speed. Some boards are rated as to the weight of the intended user.

  • Protective equipment, such as closed, slip-resistant shoes, helmets and specially designed padding, may not fully protect skateboarders from fractures, but wearing it can reduce the number and severity of cuts and scrapes.

  • Padded jackets and shorts are available for skateboarders, as well as padding for hips, knees and elbows. Wrist braces and special skateboarding gloves also can help absorb the impact of a fall.

  • The protective equipment currently on the market is not subject to government performance standards and careful selection is necessary.

  • In a helmet, look for proper fit and a chin strap; notice whether the helmet blocks vision and hearing. If padding is too tight, it could restrict circulation and reduce the ability to move freely. Loose-fitting padding, on the other hand, could slip off or slide out of position.

How to fall

Learning how to fall may help reduce the chances of a serious injury.

  • If you are losing your balance, crouch down on the skateboard so that you will not have as far to fall.

  • In a fall, the idea is to land on the fleshy parts of your body.

  • If you fall, try to roll rather than absorb the force with your arms.

  • Even though it may be difficult during a fall, try to relax your body, rather than go stiff.

Tips for using a skateboard
  • Give your board a safety check each time before you ride.

  • Always wear safety gear.

  • Never ride in the street.

  • Obey the city laws. Observe traffic and areas where you can and cannot skate.

  • Don't skate in crowds of non-skaters.

  • Only one person per skateboard.

  • Never hitch a ride from a car, bicycle, etc.

  • Don't take chances; complicated tricks require careful practice and a specially-designated area.

  • Learn to fall—practice falling on a soft surface or grass.

Source: National Safety Council

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