Spring fever means situational awarness time

By Michael Ullery

March 30, 2014

Spring, as they say, has sprung.

The spring season is probably the single-most anticipated of seasons. Nearly everyone looks forward to a reprieve from months of “captivity” indoors.

Spring is also, perhaps, the most dangerous season of all. In our zeal to celebrate the warmth and freedom, we sometimes forget to use caution, to be careful, as we burn off a winter’s worth of stored energy.

The past weeks have already seen a pair of tragedies, both involving bicycle riders and vehicles.

Spring means that bicyclists and runners will be taking to the highways and byways. I also believe that spring means a boost of adrenaline for most of us as the sunshine warms the blood and our energy levels increase.

All of the above means that spring is also a time to increase caution as we get out and enjoy the weather.

We need to be constantly aware that we are sharing the roadways with others. Highways do not belong only to those behind the wheel of cars and trucks. Many of us like to take to the open road on our bicycles. Runners are out in force as warm weather arrives. It is also a time when farmers are on the road with heavy machinery, anxious to plant crops. Motorcyclists will be bringing their machines out of the garage and are anxious to hit the road.

The responsibility for maintaining a safe environment for all highway users does not fall only on the shoulders of those on their feet, or on two wheels. It does not fall solely on the shoulders of those driving cars and trucks.

The responsibility for highway safety for all who share the roadways, falls equally on all of us.

Drivers must be constantly on the lookout for anything and anyone in their path.

For runners and riders, it is not enough just to wear reflective clothing. There is no fool-proof all-encompassing safety method. You must be totally aware of your surroundings at all times.

Many people ride, or run, to relax. That is a great theory. However, just as you can never be totally relaxed while driving your car, neither can you ever totally relax while running or riding on the highway.

I, personally, become very upset when I see a jogger or bicyclist, on a public highway, and wearing a headset, obviously listening to their favorite tunes as they exercise. If you cannot hear what is going on around you, then you have become a danger, to both yourself and to those with whom you are sharing the highway.

Law enforcement officers learn to develop situational awareness. This simply means, that in addition to the obvious event that is drawing attention, they are also constantly aware of everything that is going on in their immediate vicinity. They are aware of everything in a 360 degree area around them.

We must all do the same when we are on the road. It doesn’t matter if our transportation is our feet, a Schwinn, a Harley, a Chevy or a John Deere. We all share equally the responsibility to ensure the we, and every single person we meet along the way, arrives home safely.