August 29th, 2008

Drive Safe This Holiday Weekend

Today, millions of Americans will hit the road to begin a long, Labor Day weekend. We urge you all to drive safely. Don’t try to cover too many miles, or drive long distances at the wee hours of the morning. Fatigue can be a killer. An average of 115 persons die each day in motor vehicle crashes in the United States — one every 13 minutes. Every year over 43,000 Americans die in auto accidents and there are roughly 2.9 million injury cases. The cost of these accidents exceeds 230+ Billion dollars.

Famed Shooters in Recent Road Accident
Think an accident can’t happen to you? Consider this… Just a few days ago, when returning from the Camp Perry National Championships, Mid Tompkins and Nancy Tompkins (at left) were involved in an accident in Kansas. Mid and Nancy are both legendary long-range shooters, and Nancy is the author of the excellent book, Prone and Long-Range Shooting. Mid was driving a van, pulling a trailer. It was late at night, and (for reasons unknown) the van and trailer went off the road and rolled over. Mid suffered cartilage and rib damage. Nancy was trapped in the van for 20 minutes before rescue workers cut her free. She was then air-lifted to a Topeka hospital and treated for leg, knee, and shoulder injuries. Fellow shooters Bob Jones and Steve McGee were following on the same highway and helped the rescue effort. Thankfully, neither Mid nor Nancy sustained life-threatening injuries, and we send them our prayers for a full recovery.

Nancy recently posted on “Mid is doing well, but is very sore. His ribs — front and back — are bothering him and he has a nasty cut on this left elbow with some lacerations. I have a broken right tibia (leg bone), right patella (knee) left shoulder, and a tear on my left rotator cuff, a broken nose and very sore ribs and face. No matter what, we feel very blessed to have survived this. We made it as did our three cats that we absolutely love and adore.”

Drowsiness Degrades Driving Skills
A driver who is very fatigued will suffer impairment in his driving skills similar to being intoxicated. Even if you don’t nod off or blank out, drowsiness impairs your reaction time, degrades your peripheral vision, and dulls your ability to concentrate on the road. Remember that when traveling at 60 miles per hour, you’ll cover 90 feet in just one second. Nodding off for just an instant could be fatal, as the following video explains:

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Night Driving — A Special Warning for Older Drivers
A significant percentage of competitive shooters (if not the majority) are over 45 years of age. As we reach “middle age” and beyond, our night-vision degrades significantly. This is a progressive process, and most individuals don’t notice a change from year to year. Scientific studies have shown that a 50-year-old driver needs twice as much light at night as does a 30-year old driver. Older eyes also do not recover from glare as well as young eyes. Pupils shrink and don’t dilate as much in the dark as we age. Various reports indicate that the retina of a senior citizen receives far less light than the retina of a 20-year-old. This can make older drivers function as though they are wearing dark sunglasses at night.

CLICK HERE for National Safety Council Tips on Night Driving.

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