Tag Archives: driving safety

Buckle Up: The Benefits of Regular Seat Belt Use

Now that we’re well into road trip season, this week’s post is going to discuss the importance of seat belt use. From a young age, we have had it drilled into us how crucial it is to wear a seat belt when we’re in a vehicle, but many people still decide not to buckle up before they hit the road.

The good news is that the CDC reports that Illinois is above the national average when it comes to regular seat belt use: 94% of Illinois drivers wear their seat belts as opposed to 86% nationwide. The bad news is that this still leaves over 750,000 drivers in the state who don’t regularly buckle up. Here’s what you should be aware of:

  • People between the ages of 21 and 34, particularly men,  are the most likely to be killed or seriously injured in a car accident, and many of those casualties are due to a lack of proper seat belt use.
  • On top of a mountain of statistics that show seat belt use saves lives is the fact that Illinois is a “Primary Enforcement” state. This means that you can get pulled over and given a citation just for not wearing your seat belt, as opposed to needing to observe a separate violation to initiate a traffic stop.

I think it’s safe to say that police officers would much rather everyone just wore their seat belt in the first place, however Primary Enforcement has been shown to be an effective tool to increase the rates of regular seat belt use. The Parkland College Police Department asks that you join us in committing to wear your seat belt, every time.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]

Rest up for Finals Week…and Your Safety

Sleep is one of the most powerful indicators of student success, and with good reason. Sleep not only refreshes our organs and physical bodies, but it helps us consolidate and synthesize the information  we take in everyday. Many college students (and adults in general) find that they have trouble getting enough quality sleep at night.

Not only is sleep important for success in the classroom or the workplace, but getting enough sleep is critical for your safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conservatively estimates that 100,000 police-reported crashes are the direct result of driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in monetary losses. These figures may be the tip of the iceberg, since currently it is difficult to attribute crashes to sleepiness.

I found some great tips for improving the quality and quantity of your sleep, from Middlebury College in Vermont:

Develop a routine. Routines signal to our body that something is about to happen—in this case, sleep! Starting a bedtime routine 30 minutes before going to sleep can help unwind the mind and body and release melatonin, a hormone that promotes sleep. Starting the routine at the same time and trying to wake up and the same time everyday can improve sleep quality and quantity.

Reduce caffeine. Caffeine has been shown to cause people to take longer to get to sleep, cause more awakenings, and lower the quality of sleep. Many types of soda contain caffeine as does chocolate, coffee and many types of teas.

Limit alcohol. Consuming alcohol, even as little as one to two drinks can produce fragmented sleep, causing a decrease in deep and REM sleep.

Go screen-free. The light emitted from cell phones, computer screens, tablets, and televisions trick our bodies and brains into thinking that it is light outside and we should be awake. Adding screen-free time into your routine can help you fall asleep faster.

Make time for physical activity. Often at the end of the day our brains are exhausted but our bodies are restless after sitting in class all day. Making time for physical activity, even just a walk around campus or your neighborhood, can help the brain and body get on the same page at the end of the day.

[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]