Author Archives: Driving Coach

Back to School Driving Safety

Back to School Driving Safety

School is back in session and that means more pedestrians and carpooling vehicles on the road. There are a lot of laws for navigating these scenarios, but many drivers are in a hurry and forget or disregard them. To keep everyone safe, here is a refresher on the laws of safe driving during the school year.

Schools Zones

The areas around a school are often full of school kids walking to and from school. Parents and carpools dropping kids off and picking them up cause heavier traffic than other times during the day. To help keep everyone safe during these times, states have designated school zones. The times surrounding these busy times require drivers to slow down. Depending on the state and the area, most school zones require drivers to go no faster than 20 miles per hour, but some speed limits go as low as 15 miles per hour.

The end of a school zone is usually marked with a sign, allowing drivers to resume regular posted speed limits for the area. However, it is good to remember that a speed limit is just that; a limit. It’s not a requirement to go 25 miles an hour in a neighborhood. If kids are around, even outside the school zone, slow down. Kids can run out in the front of an oncoming car chasing a loose paper or step off the sidewalk for any reason. As the driver, you need to be ready to stop at a moment’s notice.

Navigating Cross-Walks

Cross-walks are in place to give people a common area to cross to keep pedestrians safe while also avoiding slowing traffic with too-frequent crossings. Many schools have a crossing guard at the cross-walks in the most dangerous areas. Drivers must yield to the crossing guard and wait to drive until the guard is completely out of the road and their stop sign or hand is down.

When approaching a cross walk with no crossing guard, drivers must stop and wait if someone is standing and waiting to cross. Kids are harder to see, so driving slower and carefully approaching these areas as a driver helps everyone stay safe. Do not drive through the cross-walk area when pedestrians are on the road, even if you are turning. Keeping the intersection or road clear helps other drivers see the pedestrians too. Not every road has a crosswalk either, so be smart and let kids cross safely.

Driving Around School Buses

School buses stop frequently, dropping off or picking up kids along their routes. During these times, a school bus will open its doors, which automatically causes lights to flash on the exterior of the bus and a stop sign to extend. Laws require all other drivers to stop because this means kids are crossing in front of and behind the school bus to get to their homes. When other drivers ignore these laws, they might hit a student. While the slower speeds and frequent stops may frustrate other drivers who are in a hurry, it’s vital that they stop when the school bus is loading or unloading students.

Smart School Driving

In a scenario where it’s a child versus a car, it is always the pedestrian who gets the worst of it. The safety of all students lies in the hands of the drivers in the area, which is why penalties are much harder when these school-related laws are broken. Driving well helps everyone reach their destination safely. Make sure that you are driving smart and obeying these laws.

Driverless Cars: Will People No Longer Need to Learn to Drive?

Driverless Cars: Will People No Longer Need to Learn to Drive?

With more companies announcing their desire to create a self-driving car, it is only a matter of time before they are on the market. With so much excitement and information floating around, it seems hard to see a point investing in driver’s education. Before you skip it, consider the following three points.

1) It Takes Time to Fill the Market

Henry Ford understood the concept of needing to fill the market with a new product. He helped get cars on the road with his revolutionary business model and found that was the best way to get consumers interested in having one for themselves. People don’t always see a need to change their ways, especially when it comes to transportation. Self-driving cars will likely be a major expense, even more so than buying a vehicle now. Until people see they are safe and worth the money, most will not invest in one.

Once people do become interested, there will still be plenty of other cars on the road. To completely ignore getting a driver’s license would be foolish if you intend to get behind the wheel- whether you control it or not- at any time in your life. Getting a driver’s license is smart if you plan to ever rent or drive someone else’s car.

2) It Will Take Decades to Be Completely Self-Driving

Chances of a completely self-driven car hitting the market is unlikely in the next two decades. Instead, these cars will most likely have the option to switch between manual control and self-driving mode. This will require drivers to carry a license and pass driving tests. Many experts believe that these cars will drive off maps provided and information like speed limits, construction areas, and off-roading will need constant updating. Anyone with a GPS system can attest that these maps and technology can only do so much, requiring human override capabilities.

3) Laws and Regulations 

Regular vehicles have many regulations, but there aren’t so many for self-driving cars yet because they aren’t on the market. Once they become more available, the government is going to have to do all kinds of tests before giving them the stamp of approval. In this process, officials will likely decide what steps to add or remove for these types of cars, like if a license is required to operate one.

While some driving experts do not believe a license will be necessary to operate a self-driving car, others believe the licensing process will just be different. What if something goes wrong or you need to stop the car before you reach your destination? There are just too many unknown factors to make any conclusions yet.

Conclusion: Don’t Skip Class Yet

There are many things to consider when it comes to laws and regulations for safety and potential uses of the technology. Once the government gets involved, processes rarely happen fast. Don’t put off your driver education courses in hopes that you’ll be sitting in the passenger seat of a self-driving car next year. Instead, get the education required and enjoy your independence.

How Safe is Your Car’s Color?

From air bags to back up cameras, cars are coming with more safety features than ever before. Potential car buyers always have a preference on the color of the car, but to what extent does the car color influence its safety? Whether it is correlated or causation, here are three reasons color does make a difference in driving.

Traffic Incidents

Research comes in on both sides of the aisle on whether it influences incidents on the road. While brighter colors are considered more visible on the road, you can’t depend on the color of your car to defend you against other factors. Some things to consider are:

  • Position of the sun. If a driver is dealing with glare on the windshield, it’s hard to see any color of car.
  • Distracted driving from kids, cell phones, and eating in the car.
  • Road rage from yourself and those around you.
  • Impaired driving with alcohol, medication, or health conditions.
  • Being in a hurry to get to your destination.

Driving a white vehicle does not protect you in any of these scenarios.

When it comes to other drivers seeing you, one Australian study showed that having a white or brighter colored car could give a driver 10% more visibility during daylight hours.

Citing studies by the federal government, the Institute for Highway Safety says that day time running lights give every vehicle another small bump in visibility on the road.

Having a white vehicle with day time running lights means that when it comes to being spotted, you have the best chances.

Damage to the body

Darker colored cars are considered more dangerous because of the level of damage they tend to have to the body. This isn’t necessarily true though. Darker cars tend to show more damage on the body after any kind of incident. Scratches on any color vehicle are typically white, making it less obvious on a white car than a black one. Basing a safety rating from visible damage to the car’s body isn’t the best way to form an opinion.

Type of Driver

Speaking in generalities, the color of the car usually reflects the personality of the driver. People who own a bold colored car often have bold personalities. Drivers with a bright orange, pink, or neon shade of green want to be noticed, while those who prefer white, silver, black, or beige are usually more mellow.

Sports cars are also a flashy style of car that people just tend to drive faster in. Drivers who like to go fast are going to get in more traffic incidents than those who are more cautious.

If you choose a white car because you believe it is safer, chances are good that you have a safe personality and take precautions in driving anyway.

 

While the color of your car does play a part in safety, it isn’t the ultimate factor in most traffic collisions. The best way to avoid incidents is to practice your safe driving techniques. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you need to, obey traffic laws, pay attention to the road, and be a defensive driver. These all increase your chances of staying safe on the road. Help be a part of the solution!

Summer Car Maintenance Checklist

Summer Car Maintenance ChecklistSummer time is marked with adventure, vacations, and fun in the outdoors. To do most of these activities, you need a well-functioning vehicle to get around. To make sure you aren’t let down by your car, here is a maintenance checklist to keep you going.

  • Engine
    The condition of your engine can make or break your ability to drive. Have a mechanic look it over to make sure that you don’t have rough idling, any stalling, hard starts, or any problems with your power. Replace any filters (such as air, fuel, etc.) if your adventures take you through too many dusty conditions.
  • Air conditioning
    No one wants to be stuck in the summer heat with no way to cool off. Give your air conditioning a tune-up before it gets too hot. If you have a newer car, make sure you check the owner’s manual for directions on replacing any air filters inside the car too.
  • System Fluids
    A car holds a lot of liquids that keep it running well like oil, coolant, and windshield wiper fluid. Make sure you get them all flushed, changed, and/or refilled before hitting the open road. Each prevents a different problem that can limit your ability to drive.
  • Tires
    Taking a long road trip requires great tires. Check the tread on each tire to make sure that they have enough life left in them to get you to your destination safely. If your tires are under the recommended tread depth, buy all new tires. Not only will you have a safer ride, but it will feel a lot smoother.
  • Lights
    Do a quick run around your car with the lights on. Headlights, brake lights, and blinkers all have lightbulbs. Make sure each one is still working and replace any that do not. It is required by many states to have every lightbulb working, so you don’t want to get a ticket when you are away from home. It also increases your ability to see and be seen by other drivers.
  • Brakes
    Pay special attention to your brakes as you drive around town. If you notice anything that doesn’t feel right, including pulsing, strange noises, or your car taking longer distances to stop, make sure you have them looked at. Most brakes should be inspected regularly, but that amount of time and distance is different for each brand.
  • Battery
    Take your car to a professional garage or auto parts store that will test the level of power left in your battery. While it can fail at any time, knowing that it is strong before a vacation or road trip can help you plan better. If you want to do your own maintenance on a good battery, scrape away any corrosion you find on the cable connectors and posts. You can wipe off the surfaces of the battery and make sure all the connections are tight. Some models have caps you can remove to check their fluid levels. Remember that battery acid is dangerous, so wear protective gear and be careful. If you see anything that concerns you, consult your mechanic.
  • Emergency Supplies
    It is always a good idea to have emergency supplies in your car. Include an extra phone charger, equipment to change a flat tire, and a first aid kit. Other things to consider are bottles or water, snacks, and a little extra cash.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

The Dangers of Texting and DrivingKeeping up with your friends is important in high school. More than 80% of teens own a cellphone to help them communicate with their friends, family, and extracurricular activities. There are so many things pulling for your attention, but when you are behind the wheel, it’s important to focus. Teens are infamous for risky behaviors, but one of the most dangerous is texting and driving.

People in general feel invincible, but it’s more common in teenagers. Texting and driving is something that most people feel like they are completely capable of doing with no problems. Statistics tell a different story though. Here are some of the most important statistics that can show you just how dangerous this is for drivers everywhere.

  • In the United States, there are about 421,000 people injured every year in a car crash where distracted driving is a factor.
  • More than half the collisions in the country (around 64%) involve a cellphone.
  • It only takes about three seconds of taking your mind off the road to cause a crash. Some of the most common occurrences are slowing traffic, lane changes, and kids or animals running into the road.
  • Looking at your phone for five seconds while traveling at freeway speeds equals traveling over 500 feet without looking. This is about the length of a football field.
  • Even though 94% of teen drivers understand the consequences of texting and driving, more than a third admit that they still do it.
  • One quarter of polled teenagers respond to at least one text behind the wheel, every time.
  • More than 1600 children die every year in car crashes involving texters.
  • During texting, drivers leave their lane 10% of the time.
  • Teen driving schools are all taking a focus on teaching better about texting and driving. Every day, there are 11 teenage drivers who die because of texting and driving. This is just the drivers, this doesn’t even account for pedestrians and passengers who are in the vehicles involved in these incidents.

What Can You Do?

This is a big problem that is catching a lot of attention with teen driving schools and law enforcement across the nation. Campaigns are run from many organizations and schools, but the best way to stop texting and driving is for individuals to step up. But what can you do, as a teen driver, to help?

  • Make yourself a promise. Decide that you are not going to text and drive, then stay true to that decision.
  • Speak Up. If you are riding in a car, make sure you say something if the driver reaches for their phone- even if the driver is your parent. Not only can it save your life, it can save everyone else around you too.
  • Come up with an alternative plan. Instead of responding to a text, hand it to a passenger to handle, pull off the road, or just wait until you get to your destination to respond. Knowing what you’ll do before it happens keeps you focused.
  • Set an example. Whether it’s to the passengers in your car or the drivers around you, set an example by putting your phone away. Resist the urge to reach for it when a message comes in.

These may seem like small things, but each of these small acts add up to make a big difference. Commit to keeping the roads safe by not texting and driving and you might just save a life, including your own.

The Importance of Commentary Driving

“Turn right, here! Take a left there! Watch your speed! Have you checked your mirrors?…” These phrases may be all but familiar utterances you may have been guilty of saying while out on your teen’s driving lessons.

It’s an odd phenomenon when we feel at risk to resort to backseat driving. Backseat driving may be a way for us to vent our concerns and uneasiness, but it also frustrates and intimidates a young driver.  Having someone else talk while on the driving lesson can also distract your young driver.

Backseat driving is rarely beneficial, even for experienced drivers.

Learning to drive can be an exciting time for your student. It can also be nerve-wracking and cause frustration for both yourself and your student.

Barking commands and emphasizing mistakes made will only heighten the tension, frustration and anxiety of your driver.

What is the Commentary Driving Technique?

Instead of making your student nervous and second-guessing themselves, and therefore undermining their good driving skills, try the commentary driving technique.

With the commentary driving technique, the student makes comments about the approaching traffic situation. They also point out observations such as how fast they are going and saying what they see in their car’s mirrors. With this kind of driver’s education, the student must learn to scan the environment and make decisions based on what the approaching situation is.

Students are to make their comments before getting into a situation and making a preemptive decision. These comments don’t have to be complete sentences. They can be short phrases.

These short sentences or phrases, however, need to be specific. For instance, they can say things like “There is an intersection ahead. The light is green. The car in front is slowing down. I’m going 25 mph, under the speed limit. I am slowing down, ready to stop if needed. Check mirrors. The car behind is also slowing down. Two cars ahead are turning left. May need to change lanes.”

When your student fails to comment on an important sign or significant situation, question them as to why they didn’t say anything, what they were think about the situation and how they could have handled the situation better.

After the driving lesson, discuss with your student the things they did well and ask them how they would have improved their skills and made better decisions for the mistakes they made during the driving lesson. Students can also write their thoughts down, explaining why they made the decisions they did and in what ways they can better their driving skills.

Why is the Commentary Driving Technique Important?

Commentary driving is a more constructive driver’s education technique that provides more benefits than the traditional commands and backseat driving techniques that parents are used to.

Here are some reasons that make commentary driving important:

  • It helps students learn to scan their surroundings.
  • It forces students to mentally think about what they need to do in upcoming situations.
  • It reassures parents that the student is observing and looking out for potential hazards, anticipating upcoming situations and making pre-planned decisions.
  • It gives students more confidence in themselves and their driving skills and abilities.
  • It empowers students by encouraging dialogue and self-assessment.
  • It limits distractions of the driver as it should only be the driver making comments doing the talking.

As your student progresses, you can take the commentary driving technique up a notch by introducing remarks and conversations about common distractions, traffic and road conditions on a given route.

The more on-the-road drive time your student gets, the better prepared they will be in passing their driving test and getting their license. Make these lessons enjoyable and productive. The best way to do that is through the commentary driving technique.

For your student to begin on-the-road driving lessons, he or she must be first enrolled in a driver’s education course at a certified, state recognized driving school.

For more information about safe driving courses, contact 9-1-1 Driving School.

Parenting Tips on How to Practice With Your New Driver

It seemed like in a matter of a blink your child is now a new driver. You’ve been preparing for this big milestone in your child’s life. Still, it seemed to have come too fast.

You’re excited for your child, but you’re also worried. Teen drivers get in more accidents than any other group. You want your son or daughter to be safe. How do you teach them to be good, safe drivers?

The most effective answer is practice. The more on-the-road driving experience your student has, the quicker they will learn and the more confidence they will build.

Every state requires driver’s education students to attend a certified driving school that incorporates mandatory classroom and on-the-road driving hours.

In addition, most states require students to have a certain number of driving hours at home, outside of the driving school.

This is where you, as the parent come in.

Teen drivers are inexperienced and often lack driving confidence. Be patient when riding with your son or daughter and continually encourage them.

In many instances, the learning doesn’t begin and end in the car. Talk to your child before the practice drive and afterwards. Try to limit the amount of talking during the actual driving.

Before the Driving Session

Map out a route and show the route to your child. When mapping out routes, keep in mind your child’s driving experience. Avoid busy, major streets. Instead, stay on quiet, less congested side streets.

Just as having a delegated route, pick a couple, specific road skills to focus on during each practice drive.

Tell your driver to leave their cell phone at home.

Make sure the student has properly adjusted both side mirrors and the rearview mirror.

Having a route will give both you and your new driver peace of mind. It will eliminate you having to come up with a route on the fly, which can involve the sudden “turn here” commands.

Instead, you can try “commentary driving” technique where your student calls out things as they see them. This technique enhances the new driver’s peripheral vision and can give you some peace of mind knowing that your son or daughter is alert and aware.

Remind yourself to be patient and calm. Avoid raising your voice, scolding or talking down to your student while on the road.

During the Driving Session

Start the driving sessions short, gradually increasing their lengths as your driver gets more comfortable and confident. The first few driving sessions should be between 15 and 20 minutes.

Teen drivers are nervous and can get distracted easily. Avoid excessive talking to your student while he or she is driving. You want them to focus on the road, not on your conversation.

Stick to the route and be sure to give your son or daughter advance warning on where to turn. Sudden shouts of “turn here!” will only add to your child’s stress and lack of confidence.

Gently point out the mistakes your child made and explain why it was wrong. Discussing the mistakes during the drive is more effective than waiting until you get home to share it. When going over these mistakes, have your child pull the car over. You don’t want to be talking while your child is trying to drive.

Be the eyes for your teen driver. Teens have not yet learned to scan ahead nor look around at what is happening around the vehicle. They can’t anticipate or see potential hazards. They are often only focused on what is right in front of them.

Refrain from pushing your own instruction and suggestions if it doesn’t match what your teen driver has been taught in driver’s ed. Doing this will confuse your student.

After the Driving Session

Review the session with your child, highlighting what they did well and repeating the errors that happened.

Ask your son or daughter to provide their own feedback and assessment on their driving. Also, ask your child what he or she learned.

Lead by example. As your teen is now a driver, he or she will be ever more observant of your driving habits. Knowing that your driving skills are under scrutiny, make the added effort to drive like a model driver. You want your child to pick up correct, safe, good driving habits, not bad, risky ones.

As a parent to a new driver, you have a great responsibility and privilege to teach them good driving habits.

If there is a soon-to-be driver in your home, trust their driver’s education to 911 Driving School. Contact us today for more information about our classes and locations.

Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Millions of Americans take the phrase “there’s no place like home for the holidays” literally. The mass migration of drivers to see friends and family near and far can bring anticipation and excitement. In more times than not, the trek and the traffic can be stressful and anything but peaceful. If you or your family is planning on driving home during the holidays, here are some safe driving tips that will make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Pack accordingly. Besides your typical trip essentials, be sure to pack your cell phone cords, a paper map (yes, they still do exist), extra change for toll roads, and plenty of water and snacks (especially if you have kids in tow.)
  2. Make sure the car is ready to go. While breaking down along the Interstate in pouring rain may make for a funny, memorable story in the future, it can easily take away the joy and relaxation of the holidays in the moment. Avoid these unexpected breakdowns by having a mechanic look over the tires, breaks, engine and windshield wipers before the trip.
  3. Avoid peak travel times. The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, for instance are the busiest travel days. To avoid traffic, consider taking a couple extra vacation days and leave on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving instead and coming back on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
  4. Get plenty of rest. Hours on the road may not seem like a hard, strenuous activity, but it requires constant attention and alertness. You’re more likely to have an incident when you’re deprived of sleep and your judgment is impaired. If you’re driving long distances, regularly stop to stretch your legs and get fresh air to help you stay awake.
  5. Remain calm. It’s easier to say than to be calm during a holiday traffic jam, but taking deep breaths and resisting the urge to drive like a mad-man will make the drive more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s also easier to stay calm when you don’t overbook your holiday schedule and feel pressured to get everywhere as fast as you can.
  6. Avoid distracted driving. Talking on the phone and texting are quickly becoming one of the biggest causes of traffic incidents. Driving, especially long distances and in unfamiliar areas require careful, undivided attention always. If you need to make a phone call, send a text, look something up on the Internet or simply eat, pull off the road.
  7. Keep a safe following distance. If you’re lucky enough to travel in the day and in good weather, a 3 second gap between your car and the one in front of it is recommended. In rain or snow, this three second following distance should be at least doubled. If someone is tailgating you, pull over and let them pass.
  8. Take an alternate way home. Instead of going home the same old boring way, why not switch it up a little? Try side roads instead of the Interstate. A change of scenery can be relaxing and prettier to look at. You may even get around traffic.
  9. Avoid driving impaired. Alcohol is a hallmark of holiday parties, dinners and celebrations. Drinking while intoxicated slows your reaction time and impairs your judgement. It can also lead to fatigue while driving. Every year, impaired drivers are responsible for fatal auto accidents. If you do drink, drink in moderation or have a designated driver.

Don’t let your anxiety of driving dampen the excitement of spending time with friends and family this holiday season. If you would like to improve your overall skills behind the wheel, contact 911 Driving School today.

Improve Your Au Pair’s Driving Skills

Au pair driving courses

Working a demanding 9-5 job while juggling young children is a real struggle for many American households. It is not uncommon to have both parents working full time to live comfortably and pay the bills. Some turn to pre-school, daycare, babysitters and nannies. Others turn to au pairs (or nannies from other countries).

Like other child care providers, parents work with agencies to do careful background checks and examinations of the au pair’s experience and qualifications. While many au pairs have child care experience, their lack of driving skills in a foreign country can be concerning.

Many Americans live in suburbs and areas outside the city, making travel by car a necessity. This is problematic as some au pairs don’t know how to drive or have a driver’s license. This understandably causes concerns from parents who are entrusting their children with someone who will likely be driving them around town. While the lack of driving experience may deter some host families, others have turned to helping their au pair learn to legally drive.

Options for Improving Your Au Pair’s Driving

If you’re of the camp that is willing to work with your au pair to improve and develop their driving skills, there are many online and on-the-road driving training courses to choose from.  Below is a list of possible ideas to help your au pair become a safe driver.

Before entering the country:

Some families want their au pair to be familiar with driving before arriving at their doorstep. The Internet is by far the best option for this scenario. Going this route, you can select an online driving course that fits your needs and budget, .The au pair can then complete the online course on their own computer in the comfort of their  own home. Many online driving courses also offer practice written exams to test the au pair’s driving course knowledge. Completing an online driving course prior to entering the country will speed up the time it takes for the au pair to obtain their  driver’s license.

After entering the country:

Though some families would advise having your au pair learn the basics of driving before arriving, sometimes that may not be an option.

  • Online courses-These can still work, especially if you’re in immediate need of someone staying home with your kids. In-person classes work great if your schedule has some flexibility.
  • Enroll in a driving school– Your au pair will only be able to get behind the wheel training and testing after they have arrived anyways, so why not enroll them  in an adult driving class? They  will learn about safe driving while having the opportunity to socialize. Every city has at least one driving school for you to choose from.
  • Take them out driving– Practice makes perfect, the more behind-the-wheel your au pair gets the more confident you both will feel and their chances of passing the driving test will increase.

Don’t risk the welfare of your kids, the au pair or other drivers by not teaching your au pair to drive. If you know frequent, daily driving will be a part of the au pair’s responsibilities, asking about the au pair’s driving experience during the interviewing and screening process can help you weed down the ones that will be the best fit for your family.

If you do get matched with an au pair without driving experience, know that there are many options available you can choose from to suit your needs, schedule, and budget. Contact 911DrivingSchool.com for more information about classes available.