The Importance of Passengers in the Car

The Importance of Passengers in the Car

Teen drivers have a lot stacked against them when they first get their licenses. If you were to poll adult drivers, most would probably say the biggest reason for teen car crashes is cellphones. While they are a cause for concern for all drivers, teen drivers are dealing with a bigger problem that isn’t an electronic device; peer passengers.

Startling Statistics

In the June 2015 issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, a study on the role of passengers in teen drivers and serious crashes. The CDC confirmed their findings that teens driving with teen passengers increased the crash risk when left unsupervised. The risk of crashing increasing with each additional teen passenger.  Just having peers in the car can cause a teen driver to do more risky driving behaviors like speeding, driving erratically, and playing the music too loud. Having these distractions is even more significant during the first few months of having a license, especially since 59% of teen passenger deaths happen in cars driven by a peer.

Prevention

This information is helpful in guiding driving curriculums, but that isn’t enough. Teens require driving independently to get experience needed to feel comfortable behind the wheel of a car. Data shows that new teen drivers need between 1,000 and 1,500 miles of independent driving before their risk of getting in a crash drops significantly.

In Washington, drivers obtaining a license but under 18 years old have limited passengers for the first year. During the first six months, no passengers under 20 years old are allowed in the car, except for immediate family members. The next six months allow teen drivers to have up to three, non-family passengers under the age of 20. This is an example of graduated licensing laws. These grant privileges in stages, like limiting passengers and restricting nighttime driving. Every state has these in some form in the United States and it all started back in the mid-1990s. These licensing laws have been shown to substantially lower fatal crash rates in teenagers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute.

Parents have a lot of influence in limiting distractions too. Make sure you stress and model the importance of driving safely, always. Whether you live in a state where these limitations apply, it is helpful if parents step in to encourage and enforce the rules. While you cannot control your child and the choices they make, you can set clear boundaries of expectations and talk to them more about making smart choices. Following up with questions of who was in the car and asking about distractions is also a great way to help keep your teen driver accountable.

Most adults remember the feeling of being able to drive friends around the first time. It is a lot of fun and comes with an increased level of independence, but it should be done safely. When teens understand the importance of limiting distractions, they can do better at keeping focused and reminding their friends to do the same.

A Parent’s Guide: Modeling Good Driving for Your Teen

Modeling Good Driving

Teaching your teenager to drive starts long before you hand them the keys to the car. Even if you don’t feel like they still follow you around, watching your every move, they still do. Setting a good example for being a responsible, safe driver is vital to their success on the road. Here are some ways you can make your child a great driver.

Prepare Before You Drive

Make sure you are calm and ready to drive before you get behind the wheel. Don’t drive when you are stressed, angry, or distracted. Feeling this way prohibits you from maneuvering your vehicle in a calm and careful way. If you aren’t calm, you are more likely to experience road rage or show impatience and not follow all the laws. When you are calm and focused, you can talk effectively to your teen about the things you see on the road.

If you are impaired in any way, don’t drive. This includes situations where you have been drinking, doing drugs, taking medications, or are overly tired. Point out to your teen that you are not fit to drive and teach them alternate ways to get home, if necessary, like calling a friend or a driving service to pick you up. It is never too early to stress the importance of safe driving.

Teach as You Drive

Make sure you always wear your seatbelt. Don’t ever pull out of your driveway until you have checked that all your passengers are buckled up too. This teaches your children that safety is a priority in your car and you expect them to follow the rules.

As you are out on the road, say out loud the safe practices you are doing. Follow the laws, including driving under the speed limit. If you notice people driving incorrectly around you, point out what they did wrong and teach what they should have done. Talking to your teen about it will help bring things to their attention. Don’t get upset if someone cuts you off or does something aggressive toward you. Set the example and show how your teen how you would like them to respond if they were in your position.

Another way you can follow the law and make a big difference is by not using your cellphone while you drive. Your kids are all watching when you use it, even if you think they aren’t. Pull out of traffic and onto the side of the road if you need to use your phone. Handing it to them to read or respond to messages helps teach them you take this rule seriously. Don’t make exceptions for yourself or teach them that you can get away with it.

Reinforce What You Teach

As a parent, it can be hard to hear your child correct you. When your child points out that you are doing something wrong, like driving too fast, forgetting your seatbelt, or using your phone while driving, don’t brush it off.  Remember, this means that they are paying attention to what you are trying to teach them. Thank them for noticing and immediately try to do better. By setting a good example for your future driver, you are helping them see good driving in action and that is the best way to learn.

Driver Safety: 4th of July Festivities

Driver Safety 4th of July

The 4th of July is known for fireworks, food, and fun. Unfortunately, it is also a dangerous day to be on the road. Staying safe is as easy as keeping three areas of safety in mind: navigation, fireworks, and impaired driving.

Navigation

Many families travel for holiday parties, concerts, parades, and fireworks shows. With events blocking or closing roads, increased crowd traffic, and road construction, navigation becomes an issue. Almost everyone knows not to use your cell phone when driving, but many drivers still do, especially when dealing with maps and GPS apps. The best thing you can do is put your destination on your phone before you start driving. As you are forced to make changes to your route, it will reroute for you. If you wait until you are in the middle of traffic or alternate routes, you put yourself and those around you in danger by not paying attention to the road.

Fireworks

The most well-known part of the 4th of July is fireworks. While they are fun, it’s also important to use a lot of caution. In areas where it is legal, families are often set off fireworks in the streets. It’s important to pay attention to this as a driver, so you don’t drive into the middle of a show or hit pedestrians that might be running in the street setting them off. Drive slowly and pay attention to everything going on around you.

If you are going to watch a firework show, it’s important that you watch for pedestrians on the way to the show and while you are leaving. When there are a lot of pedestrians, many choose to walk in the streets or cross to their vehicle without looking. Always drive slow through crowds and on nights when you know there will be a lot of people on foot around you.

Impaired Driving

The 4th of July is a party holiday. There are several ways to drive impaired that shouldn’t be ignored. The first is alcohol and drugs. Many people drink alcohol on this holiday, often staying up late to do so. You may think you are okay to drive home, but it is always better to have a designated driver arranged so that you can all get home safely.

The second common impairment is a lack of sleep. Since people get up early for parades or stay up late for fireworks shows that require darkness, there are a lot of drivers who aren’t well rested. A study conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety showed that drivers who miss 1-2 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period almost double their risk for a crash. Get a full seven hours of sleep. If you notice yourself getting tired, pull off the road and take a quick nap.

Fireworks are the last form of impairment. They impair both your seeing and hearing from the bright flashes of light and loud booms. Whether it’s an aerial show or a smaller show that families do in the streets, the big flashes of light going off around you leave you unable to see as well for a few seconds. The explosions, screams, and hisses of fireworks can leave you with a slight decrease in hearing or a ringing in the ears. The lights and noises can also catch you by surprise and cause you to swerve. Drive slowly and with caution everywhere you are driving.

Is Your Teen Ready to Drive?

Is your teen ready to drive?

Handing over the keys to the car is a scary thing for a lot of parents. Even though laws say a teen can get their driver’s license at 16, it doesn’t mean that everyone is ready at the same time. Parents often wonder if their teen is ready to drive yet, but the key is expectations. Here are some ways you can make and use expectations to tell if they are ready and how you can help them along.

Why Expectations?

There are several expectations that States require students to meet before they can get their learner’s permit or their driver’s license. There are tests to take, forms to fill out, and hours to complete. The government expects everyone behind the wheel of a car to know a certain amount of laws before they can legally drive a vehicle. Driver’s education curriculums are full of information that potential drivers all need to know to help them.

Making Expectations

As the parent, you should set your own expectations that need to be met too. Some parents require their students to be on the honor roll or meet their curfew every night for a set amount of time. These show that your teen is ready, mature, and responsible enough to handle more responsibility by driving. If your teen is ready to drive, they will be willing to demonstrate it through meeting your expectations. Here are some tips on creating them.

Be fair and clear. Set expectations early enough that they can focus on reaching them before it is time to get a permit. Talk to them and make sure they understand what they should do and the reasoning behind it. Make expectations that are realistic and achievable.

Encourage them. Let your teen know that you are in their corner. Give them praise and encouragement. Also try providing opportunities to succeed. If you are out driving together, point out things they are doing right.

Correct only as needed. Everyone makes mistakes when driving, especially when learning. Give loving correction without being overbearing or quick to yell.  If you are stressed out, it will only add tension to the entire experience for both of you.

After the License

Once your teen has met all expectations and gets their permit and license, it doesn’t end. Teens should know that you still have expectations for them. Being responsible is important to following the laws and knowing they are safe. Let them know your family rules for the car, their curfew, and any other expectations you have for them. Check up on your teen often and let them know you are watching and care about their well-being.

Another thing to remember is that you are still their driving teacher and advisor. Keep the communication lines open so that they can come to you at any time. Always be ready to answer any questions they might have or address any concerns. Remember, your teen is still learning the ropes of driving, and no one wants them to succeed more than you do. Keep encouraging and loving them along the way.

Preparing for the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer

100 Deadliest Days to Drive

Memorial Day is the unofficial start of picnics, vacations, swimming, and deadly accidents. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there are an increased number of car crashes. From 2012 to 2017, there were more than 5,000 deaths during this time frame. Let’s look at the five most common reasons behind crashes and ways that you can stay safe.

  1. Be Aware of Increased Traffic

The main reason for the 100 deadliest days is that there are more drivers on the road. Memorial Day is usually the time that school lets out and there are more teen drivers on the road. Teen drivers are less experienced and usually dealing with a lot of distractions. Teens aren’t the only drivers on the road though. More individuals and families are heading out to enjoy the weather, attend popular summertime events, and going on vacations. With more drivers on the road, the more likely it is that there will be collisions.

  1. No Impaired and Drowsy Driving

Long road trips, big parties, and holiday celebrations lead a lot of people to drive while impaired in some way. Whether it is alcohol, drugs, or driving drowsy, people are getting behind the wheel of a car unable to drive safely. If you find yourself in any of these situations, don’t rationalize that you are good enough to drive. Instead, find a friend to be your designated driver or call a ride share or taxi service. It’s never worth putting your life and those around you at risk.

  1. Don’t Forget to Buckle Up

When the sun is really hot, it’s not comfortable to buckle up. Don’t wait until they cool off. Don’t worry about being too wet or that you’re close enough to home that you neglect it either. If you are driving, you are responsible for making sure everyone in your car has a seat belt and is wearing it. Even minor collisions can have fatal results when proper restraints aren’t used.

  1. Watch Your Speed

Driving too fast is a common cause for car crashes. With dry roads, clear skies, and fun things to do, drivers tend to drive a little more recklessly. Combine this reason with more drivers on the road and it is a recipe for disaster. The most common reason for speeding is because you’re late or have some sort of road rage. Plan and make sure you leave on time, giving yourself a buffer for bad traffic. With more people out driving and pedestrians out walking, it is important that you don’t speed so that everyone can stay safe. If you ever find yourself in a situation where another driver wants to race, don’t do it. It is illegal and dangerous.

  1. Avoid Distracted Driving

Texting and driving is the most common distraction for drivers. Don’t mess with your phone in any way while operating a vehicle. Pull off the road and out of traffic if you must enter an address, take a call, or send a text. Even looking down for a few seconds can cause fatal results.

Motorcycles and Awareness: A Driving Guide for Everyone on the Road

Motorcycles and AwarnessWhether you are driving a motorcycle or driving around them, it is important to brush up on your safety
skills. While most drivers are comfortable around other cars on the road, there are behaviors that are
dangerous to motorcyclists around them. Here are five tips for drivers with four wheels and those with
two.
Safety Tips for Vehicle Drivers
1. Check your blind spots. Whenever you are changing lanes, it’s vital to check your blind spots.
The different rear view mirrors can miss drivers that fall in the blind area, so checking over your
shoulder is a good habit to get into. A quick glance doesn’t always cut it though. Motorcycles are
smaller than other vehicles, making the blind spot bigger and harder to spot them. Be aware and
check around you more carefully.
2. Give them space. Motorcycles are easier to maneuver and only require small movements to
change lanes. When a motorcycle is on the road around you, give them space because they can
make a movement very fast and you might not be ready for it.
3. Control your rage. If a motorcyclist cuts you off or does something else to make you angry,
don’t tailgate, swerve toward, or make aggressive movements toward them. One small bump
and you could end that driver’s life.
4. Approach intersections carefully. Most drivers are not aware that intersections are danger hot
spots for bikers. People are not accustomed to looking for motorcyclists when turning left, often
turning into a motorcyclist when they thought the gap between cars was empty. Turning any
direction with a motorcyclist near is dangerous if other drivers aren’t watching carefully.
5. Don’t drive while drunk. Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or fatigue is dangerous,
but it’s especially dangerous around motorcycles. Since they have faster movements and an
impaired driver has slower reaction times, the results are more fatal for the motorcyclist.
Impaired driving is hazardous to everyone, so just don’t do it.
Safety Tips for Motorcyclists
1. Signal carefully. Drivers around you are not used to seeing the fast moves you can make when
changing lanes. It’s important that you signal for a few seconds before making a movement so
that everyone around you knows where you are going. Swerving in and out of traffic without
signaling is a recipe for disaster.
2. Watch the weather. Small weather storms can create a dangerous roadway if you’re out on
your motorcycle. Driving through puddles, slippery roads, and high winds can easily cause a
driver to crash. If the weather is bad and you can’t avoid driving on your motorcycle, drive
slower and use extra caution.
3. Avoid driving when its dark. Motorcycles are already hard to spot on the road, but add in a dark
bike, dark surroundings, and a driver wearing dark clothes and the small lights just aren’t
effective. If possible, avoid driving when it’s dark. Always drive defensively, remembering that
others can’t see you very well.
4. Always wear a helmet. Protective gear can make all the difference between life and death when
you ride a motorcycle. Always wear a helmet to keep your visibility good and protect your head
in case of an accident. Also wear leather clothing to help protect your skin from road rash during
an accident.

5. Don’t drive while drunk. While it’s dangerous for any driver to operate a car while drunk or
under the influence of drugs, it is even more dangerous for motorcyclists. Don’t ever drive your
bike if you are impaired in any way. One wrong move or jerky movement and you may not live
to tell the tale.

3 Common Reasons for Car Crashes and What You Can Do to Avoid Them

3 Common Reasons for Car Crashes

With hundred of thousands of cars on the road, the chances of getting in a car accident are very high. Most of the causes for car crashes are preventable, which makes getting in one even more frustrating. Here are three common causes for car crashes and what you can do to avoid them in the future.

  1. Improper Maneuvers. Part of getting a driver’s license is a test, requiring students to know all the basic driving laws. After the test is done, a lot of drivers forget what is required during certain maneuvers. Some of the biggest problems are unsafe lane changes, forgetting right-of-way rules, and improper turns. The laws are made to make travel efficient and decrease confusion, while keeping everyone safe.

How to Avoid an Accident: Review the laws from time to time. Make sure you know what is legal and what isn’t. Also, pay attention to the drivers around you. If someone else goes before it is their turn, don’t be so stubborn that you go anyway. It’s more important to be safe and get to your destination safely.

  1. Impaired Driving. Driving requires a clear mind and good control of your car. If you ever operate the vehicle with anything in your body that decreases your ability to be safe. It’s important that you avoid ever driving if you have been:
  • Drinking
  • Doing drugs
  • Taking certain medications

Another way that many drivers are impaired without realizing it is fatigue. This makes you just as fuzzy and prevents clear thinking just as much as drunk driving. These all slow down your reaction time, which is dangerous for switching lanes, if you have someone cut you off, or someone stops quickly in front of you. This makes you a danger on the road to everyone around you.

How to Avoid an Accident: Arrange to have someone else drive if you know that you will be drinking or doing drugs. Carefully review side effects of medications. Be well rested and prepared with caffeine, planned stops, music, or something to keep you awake for the entire distance. Don’t ever rationalize that you’re okay to drive in any of these situations. Call a cab, make other plans, or pull off the road to sleep or switch drivers.

  1. Distracted Driving. One of the leading causes of accidents right now is distracted driving. It comes in many different forms. The distraction that is getting the most press right now is texting while driving. This is certainly very dangerous, but it is not the only thing distracting drivers. Some other common examples are:
  • Talking on the phone
  • Applying make up
  • Rowdy friends and kids as passengers
  • Searching for something dropped
  • Eating and drinking
  • Messing with the radio, sound system, or movie system.
  • Multi-tasking of any kind
  • Looking at maps

There are all kinds of distractions that take a driver’s eyes off the road and they are all dangerous. Taking your eyes away for even a few seconds can allow you to drive hundred of feet without paying attention. So much is happening in any given situation that you can easily miss someone turning in front of you, braking, or a pedestrian stepping in the road.

How to Avoid an Accident: Put the devices away, limit phone conversations, and pull off the road if you need to do anything that prevents you from giving driving your full attention.

A Survival Guide for Parents with a Teen Driver

A Parent's Survival Guide to Teen DrivingMost states require a licensed driver or parent to ride passenger with their student driver for a certain number of hours. This helps the student to get practice on the road with some responsible supervision. If you are a parent, you will spend many of these hours in the car with your student, so here is a little survival guide for you.

  1. Start out slow. The last thing you want to do for your new driver is scare them (or you as the parent) too much. Even if your driver feels ready to jump right in to busy roads, it’s not a good idea. Start working on basics in a parking lot and move to neighborhood streets. After a bit of practice, try moving to slightly busier roads. Stick to familiar roads for the both of you. That way, you can know what to expect. As your teenager becomes more experienced, move to busy roads and eventually the freeway.
  2. Practice commentary driving. When you are out driving together, have your teen explain what they see. Some examples might be:
  • “We are approaching a stop light that is turning yellow, I’m preparing to stop”
  • “a child on a bike is coming up to the crosswalk, I’m going to slow down”
  • “The car in front of me is braking, I’m slowing down”

While it won’t help you completely relax, it can help you know that they are paying attention to their surroundings. It also provides opportunities for you to teach your teen what they should be watching for while driving.

  1. Put your phone to use. Part of the reason you come along is to help teach your teen, right? If you have your phone handy, you can test their restraint by texting them every so often to see if they stay focused on the road. Use this as a teaching moment if they reach for their phone. Remind them how important it is to not use their phones even at stop signs and red lights. They should pull off the road and out of traffic if they need to use their phone.
  2. Post a sign on the bumper. Bumper stickers and/or magnets that say “Caution: New Driver” or “Student Driver, please be patient” are available to purchase online and in some local stores. You can also make your own using some paper and a magic marker. This helps other drivers be aware that your teen is still learning, and they should be patient and give them a little extra space.

Behind every great driver is a parent who put in the hours and sweat to teach them. Make sure you buy yourself a reward, even if it’s a pack of gold stickers. It’s a big accomplishment for your teenager to get their driver’s license, but it’s also a big step for you too. Driver’s education teachers rely on parents to reinforce what students learn in class. These parent survival tips will help you be prepared for some common situations parent-passengers experience.

 

5 Tips for Driving in the Fog

5 tips for Driving in the Fog | 911 Driving School

Driving in the fog can be a dangerous venture, even for veteran drivers. Most drivers will turn down the music and tell passengers to be quiet, so they can focus more on the road when entering these conditions.

Unless you live in a climate that requires you to navigate these types of driving conditions frequently, it’s hard to feel comfortable or drive confidently in the fog. Here are five great tips to help you reach your destination safely.

1. Reduce your speed.

Because even thin fog can conceal other cars, animals, and signs, it is important that you don’t drive at the usual speed limits. The thicker the fog, the slower you should drive.

Make sure you pay close attention to the speedometer. Driving through fog makes it hard to know how fast you’re going because you can’t see buildings or other cars to determine if your speed is appropriate.

2. Adjust your lighting.

Most vehicles are outfitted with fog lights, which help make the road more visible. It is always best to use these lights, if possible. If not, you should turn on your low-beam headlights.

Using your high-beam headlights might seem like a good idea, but the light reflects off the water particles and bounces back to you, reducing visibility even more.

3. Follow the lines.

The road lines are an important thing to pay attention to during foggy conditions. Since you can’t see things farther than a few feet away, you should watch the white line on the right side of the road to make sure you’re in the appropriate lane. It is easy to veer into another lane of traffic or off the road entirely if you aren’t careful. Using this line helps keep you on the right path.

4. Don’t stop on the road.

If driving in the fog is too intimidating to you, don’t stop on the road. If you are on a highway, don’t just pull off to the side to wait it out either. The fog will hide your car and create another hazard for other drivers, potentially causing a lot of damage for both parties.

If you don’t want to drive in the fog, pull off the freeway or highway and go to a parking lot. You can stay there to wait it out or find a place to rest. It isn’t worth the risk to park so close to traffic.

Once you are parked, turn off your lights so no one thinks they are in a lane of traffic.

5. Use your surroundings.

If you feel like you need some extra support, consider following the taillights in front of you. Some vehicles have built-in fog lights on the back to help give light for those around them.

This safety feature helps other drivers to see the vehicle, to prevent rear-ending, but it also helps provide a light for others to follow. Many drivers depend on the cars in front of them to help navigate the road and regulate speed.

 

Using these five tips will help keep you safe when driving in the fog. It isn’t anything that becomes easier with practice, but knowing how to handle it can reduce some of the stress you feel while in it.

Using Your Other Senses (Besides Sight) While Driving

Using Your Other Senses While Driving | 911 Driving School

Out of all five senses, sight is the most relied on while you are behind the wheel of a car. It’s important to see where you are going, but the other senses are all very important too.

Using the ability to hear, smell, and touch increase your abilities while operating a vehicle. Here are just some of the ways that these all impact your driving every time you get in the driver’s seat.

The Sense of Hearing

Using your ears is just as important as using your eyes when driving. It is very important if you are trying to listen to directions on your GPS, but that’s not all. There are so many sounds on the road that give you clues to what is happening around you that you might not see.

For example, many drivers can hear sirens on emergency vehicles before they ever see them. Once you hear them, staying alert to know when you should pull off the road and out of the way is important. Other important sounds are:

  • Honking horns- to warn or communicate
  • Train whistles and train crossing alerts
  • Braking squeals to warn of nearby accidents, hazards, or potential situations

Other sounds can come from the car that alerts you to mechanical issues. These are all reasons that driver’s education teachers try to teach students that playing your music too loud can impair your driving abilities.

The Sense of Smell

The largest thing smell helps with is letting you know that there is a problem in your car. Any unusual smells coming from under the hood like an overheated engine, exhaust fumes in your car, or burning brakes are all indications you should take your car to a mechanic.

The Sense of Touch

Hands are obviously important when driving a car. However, they do more than just steer. If you pay attention to the tension in your arms and the way the car feels, you can learn a lot.

For instance, if your tires are low on air, or improperly aligned, it’s usually felt in your steering ability. You will find it harder to drive straight because the car will pull to one side. It’s important to pay attention to the feel of your vehicle.

Another way that touch enhances driving is that it helps you pay attention to the road while accomplishing other tasks with one of your hands.

Once you become very familiar with a car, you can tell where buttons are by touch. Instead of having to try to find where everything is, you learn by feel to find the windshield wipers, blinkers, and headlights.

Using Your Senses

Being a safe driver, you will need to use all your senses. People can drive without one of these senses, but if you know how to rely on these abilities, driving is easier because the experience is enhanced.

When you use these other senses to stay alert to different dangers on the road, you are much more likely to get to your destination safely.