During the height of the pandemic, I was amazed at the various public service announcements that were being relayed, including “wash your hands” and “cover your mouth when you cough.”
These seem to be straightforward, common-sense ideas. I know I spent a great deal of time teaching these to my son when he was younger, so why were grown adults having to be reminded of basic hygiene and etiquette?
Then I remembered that, in our modern world, attention spans are now the length of TikTok snippets. Information must be given and digested in small, easy to swallow morsels. We tend to live in the here and now and forget the information that our teachers and parents tried to drill into our collective memories.
So, for all those who may have forgotten, I have a few more common-sense announcements.
First, move over when you see and hear emergency vehicles!
This information is helpfully provided in the Texas Driver’s Manual, but if you forget, the emergency vehicles are equipped with red and blue lights and sirens that can be heard over any latest “original sound” playing through the speakers of your phone. I assure you that wherever you are going will still be there after you let the vehicles through. However, I cannot guarantee that the person waiting for those emergency personnel will be alive if you bar the vehicles from accessing the scene.
The best thing you can do is be aware of your surrounding and pull to the right-hand shoulder of the road to allow the emergency vehicles to pass you on the pavement to the left of your vehicle. In some cases, the emergency vehicles may have already exited the road and are passing you on the right. If this is the case, situational awareness is your friend: listen for the sirens, watch for the lights, look to your right and left, and move your vehicle slowly in the safest direction.
For our second PSA, slow down for emergency personnel!
The state of Texas legally requires all drivers to slow down if they pass emergency vehicles or emergency personnel on the side of the road. Slow down means to reduce your speed to 20 mph below the posted speed limit. For those of you who drive SH 105 at 105 mph, this does not mean to reduce your speed to 85 mph. No, you need to slow your vehicle to below 50 mph, and when possible, move over a lane.
This does not mean that you continue your breakneck speed and move over when you reach the bumper of the emergency vehicle. It means you move over as soon as you see the situation on the side of the road. That situational awareness comes into play again.
We all know that you slam on the brakes if you see a cop sitting on the side of the road for traffic control, so why do so many of you insist on flying by emergency vehicles who are actively trying to help? More importantly, these officers, firemen and EMTs are our friends and neighbors. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on the scene covering an accident for The Examiner and witnessed someone almost hit by a fast-moving vehicle.
Please give these men and women the courtesy to do their jobs safely and efficiently; they want to return home to their families just as much as you do. As you are driving our streets and highways, remember that these people protect us and keep us safe, let’s do the same for them.
The column represents the thoughts and opinions of Ana Cosino. Opinion columns are NOT the opinion of the Navasota Examiner.
Ana Cosino is a Navasota hometown gal, Navasota High School graduate, Publisher of The Navasota Examiner, community oriented; but most importantly mom to her pride, Jason.