FORT KNOX, Ky. — National travel restrictions will soon be lifted and millions will be back on the roads traveling across the United States.Our safety focus this year is prevention. As a result, we are sharing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s safety messages on several travel topics.Bicycle safety.There were 857 bicyclists killed in traffic crashes in the United States in 2018. As you might expect, when a crash occurs between a vehicle and a bike, it’s the cyclist who is most likely to be injured.Bicycle safety reminders:· All bicyclists should wear properly fitted bicycle helmets every time they ride. A helmet is the single most effective way to prevent head injury resulting from a bicycle crash.· Bicyclists are considered vehicle operators; they are required to obey the same rules of the road as other vehicle operators, including obeying traffic signs, signals, and lane markings. When cycling in the street, cyclists must ride in the same direction as traffic.· Drivers of motor vehicles need to share the road with bicyclists. Be courteous – allow at least 3 feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist on the road, look for cyclists before opening a car door or pulling from a parking space, and yield to cyclists at intersections and as directed by signs and signals. Be especially watchful for cyclists when making turns, either left or right.· Bicyclists should increase their visibility to drivers by wearing fluorescent or brightly colored clothing during the day, and at dawn and dusk. To be noticed when riding at night, use a front light and a red reflector or flashing rear light, and use retro-reflective tape or markings on equipment or clothing.Motorcycle Safety.The number of motorcyclists killed in crashes dropped to 4,985 in 2018, an almost 5% decrease, but motorcycle riders are still overrepresented in traffic fatalities.To keep everyone safe, we urge drivers and motorcyclists to share the road and be alert, and we're reminding motorcyclists to make themselves visible, to use DOT-compliant motorcycle helmets, and to always ride sober.Before every ride:Check your motorcycle’s tire pressure and tread depth, hand and foot brakes, headlights and signal indicators, and fluid levels.Check under the motorcycle for signs of oil or gas leaks.If you're carrying cargo, secure and balance the load on the motorcycle, and adjust the suspension and tire pressure to accommodate the extra weight.If you're carrying a passenger, he or she should mount the motorcycle only after the engine has started, sit as far forward as possible directly behind you, and keep both feet on the foot rests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.Distracted Driving.Distracted driving is dangerous, claiming 2,841 lives in 2018 alone. Among those killed were 1,730 drivers, 605 passengers, 400 pedestrians and 77 bicyclists.Distracted driving is any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, fiddling with the stereo, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.Texting is the most alarming distraction. Sending or reading a texts takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that's like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed.Speeding.Speeding endangers everyone on the road. In 2018, speeding killed 9,378 people.We all know the frustrations of modern life and juggling a busy schedule, but speed limits are put in place to protect all road users. Speeding is a type of aggressive driving behavior. Several factors have contributed to an overall rise in aggressive driving: Traffic: Congestion is one of the most frequently mentioned contributing factors to aggressive driving. Drivers may respond by using aggressive driving behaviors, including speeding, changing lanes frequently, or becoming angry at anyone whom they believe impedes their progress. Running late: Some people drive aggressively because they have too much to do and are “running late” for work, school, their next meeting, lesson, soccer game or appointment. Anonymity: A motor vehicle insulates the driver from the world. Shielded from the outside environment, a driver can develop a sense of detachment, feeling like an observer of their surroundings rather than a participant. This can lead to some people being less constrained in their behavior when they cannot be seen by others, or when they think it is unlikely they will ever again see those who witness their bad behavior. Disregard for others and for the law: Most motorists rarely drive aggressively, and some never do. For others, episodes of aggressive driving are frequent, and for a small proportion of motorists it is their usual driving behavior.Drowsy driving.Sleepiness can result in crashes any time of the day or night, but three factors are most commonly associated with drowsy-driving crashes.1. Crashes occur most frequently between midnight and 6 a.m., or in the late afternoon. At both time periods of the day, people experience dips in their circadian rhythm — the human body’s internal clock that regulates sleep;2. Crashes often involve only a single driver without passengers, running off the road at a high rate of speed with no evidence of braking; and3. Crashes frequently occur on rural roads and highways.How to avoid driving drowsy:1. Getting adequate sleep on a daily basis is the only true way to protect yourself against the risks of driving when you’re drowsy. Experts urge consumers to make it a priority to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night. Before the start of a long family car trip, get a good night sleep, or you could put your entire family and others at risk.2. Many teens do not get enough sleep at a stage in life when their biological need for sleep increases, which makes them vulnerable to the risk of drowsy-driving crashes, especially on longer trips. Advise your teens to delay driving until they’re well-rested.3. Avoid drinking any alcohol before driving. Consumption of alcohol interacts with sleepiness to increase drowsiness and impairment.4. Always check your prescription and over-the-counter medication labels to see if drowsiness could result from their use.5. If you take medications that could cause drowsiness as a side effect, use public transportation when possible.6. If you drive, avoid driving during the peak sleepiness periods. If you must drive during the peak sleepiness periods, stay vigilant for signs of drowsiness, such as crossing over roadway lines or hitting a rumble strip, especially if you’re driving alone.Short-term interventions:Drinking coffee or energy drinks alone is not always enough. They might help you feel more alert, but the effects last only a short time, and you might not be as alert as you think you are. If you drink coffee and are seriously sleep-deprived, you still may have “micro sleeps,” or brief losses of consciousness, that can last for four or five seconds. This means that at 55 mph, you’ve traveled about 100 yards down the road while asleep. That’s plenty of time to cause a crash.If you start to get sleepy while driving, drink one to two cups of coffee and pull over for a short 20-minute nap in a safe place, such as a lighted, designated rest stop. This has been shown to increase alertness in scientific studies, but only for short time periods.Child safety.In and around cars can be dangerous places for kids.Around the vehicle:Even with new safety features that can alert you to objects near your car, there are still hazards to look for. Talk to your children about the potential dangers of playing around vehicles, and watch them closely when they’re nearby.Many children are killed or seriously injured in back-over incidents. A back-over typically occurs when someone drives a vehicle out of a driveway or parking space, and backs over an unattended child because the driver did not see the child.Prevention Tips:· Teach children not to play around or near cars.· Always walk around your vehicle and check the area around it before backing up.· Be aware of small children’s presence — the smaller a child, the more likely it is you will not see them.· Teach children to move away from a vehicle when a driver gets in it, or if the car is started.· Have children in the area stand to the side of the driveway or sidewalk so you can see them as you are backing out of a driveway or parking space.· Make sure to look behind you while backing up slowly in case a child dashes behind your vehicle unexpectedly.· Roll down your windows while backing out of your driveway or parking space so that you'll be able to hear what is happening outside of your vehicle.· Teach your children to keep their toys and bikes out of the driveway.· Honk your horn before backing out to alert children you are about to move.Because kids can move unpredictably, you should actively check your mirrors while backing up.In the vehicle:Heatstroke is one of the leading causes of vehicle-related deaths for children under the age of 14. It is also one of the leading causes of non-crash related fatalities among all children.Vehicle heatstroke occurs when a child is left in a hot vehicle, allowing for the child’s temperature to rise in a quick and deadly manner. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches about 104 degrees and the thermoregulatory system is overwhelmed. A core body temperature of about 107 degrees is lethal.Unfortunately, even great parents can forget a child in the back seat.Prevention tips:· Look before you lock. Make it a habit to look before you lock, and try these tips to avoid putting children at risk of heatstroke.· Keep your vehicle locked, and keep your keys out of reach. Nearly three in 10 heatstroke deaths happen when an unattended child gains access to a vehicle.· Take action if you notice a child alone in a car. Protecting children is everyone’s business. Learn what to do if you see a child alone in a car.What else you need to know:· Even in cooler temperatures, your vehicle can heat up to dangerous temperatures very quickly. An outside temperature in the mid-60s can cause a vehicle’s inside temperature to rise above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The inside temperature of your car can rise almost 20 degrees Fahrenheit within the first 10 minutes.· Heatstroke does not only occur during the summertime or in the Sun Belt states. This deadly issue can occur at any time of the year, in any weather condition, in any community — to any parent.Power windows.Children can hurt themselves on power windows. Many kids are injured when a window closes on their finger, wrist or hand. Some kids have been strangled by power windows.Prevention tips:· Teach your children not to play with window switches.· Teach your children not to stand on passenger door arm rests.· Properly restrain your children in car seats or seatbelts to prevent them from accidentally activating power windows and sunroofs.· Look and make sure your kids' hands, feet and head are clear of windows before raising the windows.· Never leave the key in the ignition or in the "on" or "accessory" position when you walk away from your car.· If available, activate the power window lock switch so your children cannot play with the windows.Seatbelts.A child within reach of a seatbelt may become entangled if he or she pulls the seatbelt all the way out and wraps the belt around his or her head, neck or waist.Prevention Tips:Always ensure children are properly restrained.Teach children that seatbelts are not toys.Be aware that some seatbelts have a retractor that locks if pulled all the way out.If a child has an unused seatbelt within reach, buckle it. Pull the seatbelt all the way out to the end without yanking. Then, feed the excess webbing back into the retractor.Teen driving.Crashes remain the leading cause of teen deaths. Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience. They speed, they make mistakes, and they get distracted easily – especially if their friends are in the car.· Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share some stories and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving. Remind your teen often that driving is a skill that requires the driver's full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at a destination.· Familiarize yourself with your state's graduated driver’s licensing law, and enforce its guidelines for your teen. Check to see what your state's laws are on distracted driving; many states have novice driver provisions in their distracted driving laws. Talk about the consequences of distracted driving, and make yourself and your teen aware of your state's penalties for talking or texting on a phone while driving.· Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you've set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, further limiting the hours during which they can drive, or limiting the places where they can drive. Parents could also consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone — a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.· Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.Older drivers.Between 2008 and 2017, the U.S. population of people 65 and older increased by 31%. In 2017, the number of people 65 and older killed in traffic crashes (6,784) made up 18% of all traffic fatalities.For many older adults, driving is a sign of continued independence. While most people want to keep driving for as long as they can, no one wants to be a threat to themselves or others because they are no longer able to drive safely.Self-awareness — both physical and mental — regular checkups with your primary care provider, and eye exams are the keys to preserving independence and continued safe driving.One way to stay safe while driving is by making sure you understand how medical conditions can impact your ability to drive safely. Another way is by adapting your motor vehicle to make sure it fits you properly, as well as choosing appropriate features, installing and knowing how to use adaptive devices, and practicing good vehicle maintenance.Before the restrictions are lifted, take the time to know the rules of the road before you go, and make sure your loved ones know them, too._________________________________________________Editor’s Note: For more NHTSA safety messages, visit https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety.