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.

 

Right Turn on Red: 3 Things to Know

Right Turn on Red 3 Things to Know | 911 Driving School

“To turn, or not to turn?” that is the question that many drivers have on their minds as they approach a red light. Unless specifically marked otherwise, turning right at a red light is legal. Just because it is legal though, doesn’t mean this is a free pass to turn if at an intersection. Drivers should make sure that the conditions are right. To keep everyone safe, there are three general principles to follow before entering the intersection.

1. Come to a Complete Stop.

Whenever you approach a red light, you should always come to a full and complete stop. Even if you can see that there is no oncoming traffic and you could turn, the law requires you to stop and look.

If you have a red light, that means someone else has a green light and they have the right of way, probably not watching for people to pull out. Even if no one was there as you pulled up, someone might have pulled out into traffic.

It is common for other vehicles to block your view of oncoming traffic too, limiting your view of possible incidents. Instead of doing a slow roll into the lane of traffic, come to a stop and proceed with caution.

2. Yield to Oncoming Traffic.

While you are stopped, look and see who has the green light. Sometimes there are turn signals and the vehicles across the intersection from you are turning into the same lane you want to pull into.

With this situation, it is best to wait until the cars have stopped turning before trying to merge into an opening. Drivers are often racing to make it through a light when they have it. Never try to fit into a small opening, no matter which way traffic is coming.

3. Watch for Pedestrians.

When making a stop at an intersection, it is vital you stop behind the white line before proceeding because you are entering an area where pedestrians might be present. Whether it is the crosswalk on the road you are on or the one you will turn through on the right, one direction will have a walking man.

Walking pedestrians aren’t the only people to watch out for either; keep an eye out for bicyclists. Some will be in the crosswalk, but other riders choose to be on the road, riding with traffic.

Road cyclists typically pull up to the white line to stop and can sneak up on your side without you noticing. Make sure you get a good look at your surroundings before making the turn, staying as close as possible to the right curb to avoid the next lane of oncoming traffic.

 

These three safety tips can help you avoid incidents when attempting a right-hand turn when you have a red light. If you remember to be patient and pay attention to your surroundings, you will have the right attitude of being safe.

Try to remember that turning on a red light is not necessary, and if you are patient, you will eventually get a green light, too.

Driving Awareness on Distracted Driving

Driving Awareness Distracted Driving | 911 Driving School

Washington is the latest state to join the list of places that ban using devices while driving with the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act. This includes more than just phones, but also tablets, gaming systems, computers, and other electronic devices while operating a vehicle.

The Demonstration

To help bring awareness to the dangers of driving distracted, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and Washington State Patrol partnered with 911 Driving School to do a demonstration.

Two teenagers volunteered to drive a car while talking and texting. This was done on a closed course that had cones spread to create different, normal traffic patterns and typical driving problems like sharp turns, switching lanes, avoiding a collision. Police officers, friends, and family helped by texting and calling the teens with questions.

Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act

The Act applies to drivers in any situation where a driver should still be paying attention to the road. This includes stopped at a red light or a stop sign since a driver is currently in traffic and expected to focus. The Act does not apply to the following situations:

  • Motorists using a smartphone mounted in a dashboard cradle for talking and navigation (watching videos is prohibited)
  • Making calls to 911 or any other emergency service
  • Transit employees and dispatchers communicating for work

This is a move that lawmakers believe will push drivers to practice safety behind the wheel. In 2015, 3,477 people in the United States were killed in incidents where the driver was distracted.

Limiting the use of this technology to a single touch will significantly improve a driver’s ability to pay attention to the road. What most people don’t realize is that in just one or two seconds looking down at a device, the vehicle can move up to several hundred feet, depending on speed. If drivers use voice activation, blue-tooth, and a single touch to answer calls, they have both hands on the wheel for a longer period of time.

If putting in an address takes more than a single push of an app, pull off the road. If drivers need to send a text, they should pull off the road. Keeping both hands on the wheel and eyes on the road helps drivers focus on the road.

After the Act was passed, some areas started issuing tickets immediately, while others gave a six-month grace period. During this time, officers let drivers off with a warning to help spread awareness of the change. That grace period ended, however, at the beginning of the year.

Now drivers spotted using any kind of handheld device will receive a ticket all through the state. The fines on the tickets aren’t cheap either; a first offense fine is $136 and if a second offense occurs within five years, the price jumps to $234.

For a visual on the teenagers driving distracted event that 911 Driving School sponsored, the local news covered it and can be seen here.

Responsible Driving and Holiday Drinking

Responsible Driving & Holiday Drinking

During the holiday season, the alcohol seems to flow freely. Office parties, family gatherings, and the actual holidays themselves keep you busy and your cup full of many different drinks. Combined with more stress than other times of the year, and people just naturally have more opportunity and reason to drink. Many of the most dangerous days for drunk drivers on the road happen during the holiday season for different reasons, including depression and stress. Here is a breakdown of the worst days for drunk driving during this time of year.

Black Wednesday

Many police departments refer to the day before Thanksgiving as “Black Wednesday” because there are so many drunk drivers on the road. Since most college students go on a break, they party before heading home. Others are drinking as they prepare food for Thanksgiving. Whatever the reason, this is a bad day for drunk driving.

Thanksgiving Day

While this day isn’t known for being a drinking holiday, it is a day where people eat way too much food. With that food, comes a lot of alcohol. As one of the most traveled days of the year, people put themselves and others around them at a higher risk when driving around.

Black Friday

Black Friday makes the third day in a row for a very dangerous week for travel. People celebrating with their families the day before, combined with all the shopping deals that start in the morning, those who drive under the influence increase in number.

Christmas Eve/Christmas Day

One of the most traditional days of the year includes more gathering, eating, and drinking. Most of the drinking occurs as Christmas Eve goes on, while dining, wrapping presents, preparing for the next day, etc. and don’t think before getting behind the wheel of a car.

New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day

The longer New Year’s Eve goes on, the more drunk people become. It contributes to the number of New Year’s Day stats because people stay out partying well past midnight. New Year’s Eve is the day with the most arrests of the year.

Staying Safe

While you can’t control the actions of others, there are a few things you can do to keep yourself from drunk driving. They all wrap up into one main idea though; plan before you drink.

  • Designate a friend to not drink who can drive everyone home.
  • Arrange for a taxi, Uber, Lyft, or another driving service to pick you up at a certain time.
  • Tell others your plan to ask them to help keep you accountable.
  • Remind all the people in your party to not drive after drinking. You might save some lives.

A little planning beforehand is all that is required to keep yourself, and everyone on the road around you, safe. If you don’t have a plan before you drink, you are more likely to make bad decisions. No one wants to spend the holidays in the hospital or mourning the loss of a loved one. All too often, that is what happens though when people choose to drink and drive. Make sure you aren’t the reason for sadness for your family or those on the road during the holiday season.

Traveling Safe for the Holidays

Traveling Safe for the Holidays

The last two months of the year are the most popular times to travel. Everyone wants to be with their families during the holidays, and that means going long distances. Before you set out to Grandma’s house, make sure that you follow these tips to get you there safely.

Give it a check-up

Making sure your vehicle gets a look over is a good idea before any road trip. Check the air pressure and tread on your tires. Any maintenance, like changing belts, refilling fluids, and changing the oil will help with vehicle efficiency and decrease chances of a breakdown. If you do have car trouble, make sure you pull off the road as far as possible to avoid getting hit or causing traffic problems.

Obey the law

Make wise choices and obey even simple laws. To make sure you have a safe drive, remember the following tips:

  • No driving over the speed limit
  • No texting while driving
  • No drinking and driving
  • No drowsy driving

Nothing ruins a vacation like getting in a crash or getting a traffic ticket. Use care to keep everyone in your car, and on the road around you, safe.

Use technology

Make sure you have a phone in your car in case something goes wrong or if you need directions. It is helpful to make sure you have a charger in your car to keep it charged. If your insurance has a special app or service that allows you to get roadside assistance, make sure you have that all figured out before you hit the road. It’s important to use all the tools available when going a long distance. Whether it is blowing a tire or a problem under the hood, it’s great to know that you can get help if you need it.

Know your limits

If you are traveling with the family in tow, make sure you know the limits. Plan frequent stops for kids who need to use the bathroom a lot. Switch drivers if you get too tired. Refill on gas when you have the chance and don’t push too far on a tank of gas. These will all lead to unexplained stops and putting your vehicle at risk on the side of a road.

Stock your vehicle

Before starting the drive, it is important you have your car stocked with goods. People are usually good about making sure they have a lot of snacks and drinks, but there are other things to consider. Some things to keep in your car, especially on a trip, are:

  • A first-aid kit
  • Spare tire
  • A set of tools
  • Extra water bottles
  • Any necessary medications
  • A jacket or coat, just in case of bad weather

It’s always a good idea to follow the old Boy Scout adage to “be prepared” and keep anything necessary in the car, or up front with a responsible adult. Many people feel more comfortable keeping a credit card or some cash in the glove box.

Planning for the worst will always pay off in an emergency. While no one wants to stress the whole vacation, it is good to plan for these situations beforehand. Once you cover all the basics of making sure you are traveling safely, you can enjoy your holidays.

Getting Your Car Ready for Winter

Getting Your Car Ready For Winter

Making sure your car is ready for winter is easier than you think. There is no need to take it to a mechanic because you can do it all yourself. Before the cold sets in, use this checklist to make sure you are ready to go.

Check the Fluids

There are three important fluids that you should make sure are full, the oil, coolant, and wiper fluid. Each has an important role in making sure that you drive safely through the winter months.

  • Oil– When temperatures drop below freezing, most mechanics recommend replacing the regular oil in your car with a thinner oil. This helps combat the freezing temperatures better. To know which oil is recommended for your specific vehicle, look in your owner’s manual or a mechanic you trust.
  • Coolant– Test to make sure your coolant is filled all the way up to the maximum line. This is important because the mixture of antifreeze and water will help prevent freezing liquid inside your radiator, causing a lot of internal damage to your car. If you aren’t sure what mixture is ideal for your vehicle, it is listed in the owner’s manual.
  • Wiper fluid– Even though washing your windshield isn’t at the front of your mind in the cold weather, it is important that you have a full amount of windshield washing fluid. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and slush on the roads, you know that other cars on the road kick up a lot of junk onto your windshield. This doesn’t just wipe off easily either. Wiper fluid is vital to getting your windshield clean and keeping you safe.

Inspect Your Tires

There are three basic things to check on your tires.

  1. Check the tread on your tires. The last thing you need is to lose your grip on the road because your tires are bald. Not having an adequate amount of tread also makes slippery roads even more dangerous.
  2. Check the tire pressure. The right PSI on your tires should be at the recommended amount. Colder temperatures cause tires to deflate a little, losing pressure that is necessary to good gas mileage.
  3. Switch your tires. If you live in an area with a lot of snow, it might be a good idea to switch out your regular tires for snow tires once it starts getting cold. Make sure you switch all four tires.

Switch Your Blades

Many experts recommend changing out your windshield wipers every six months. Changing them out at the beginning of the fall and winter seasons can save you a lot of grief when old ones don’t work as well during a storm.

Make a Safety Kit

Snowstorms, ice storms, and even rainstorms can leave you stranded in your car. Here are some good things to keep in your car for a safety kit, just in case.

  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Leather gloves and a warm winter hat
  • Sand to spread under tires if you get stuck on slush, snow, or ice
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Small shovel
  • Small bottle of coolant, in a leak-proof bottle
  • Glycerine for unfreezing locks and doors (keep in a place you can access if the doors are frozen)
  • Snacks and water bottles
  • A cellphone charger
  • An emergency radio

Regular Maintenance

Following these steps should ensure your car is ready for winter. The last thing to keep in mind is that if your car is having any problems or needing major maintenance done on it, get it all taken care of. The last thing you need is to be stranded in the cold for a problem you could have prevented. The more you prepare, the less problem solving you will have to do.

Holiday Driving a Difference

Holiday Driving A DifferenceNovember 15th is National Philanthropy Day, just in time for the holidays. Since everyone starts getting into a giving spirit during the holidays, 911 Driving School is excited to get in the giving spirit too.

The way we plan to give back to the communities we love so much, we are working with our franchises to do a donation drive from November 15 to December 22.

If you need some ideas on things to donate, here are some things to consider:

  • Stuffed animals
  • Arts and crafts supplies
  • Toys for all ages
  • Books for every reading level
  • DVDs and CDs
  • Video games and game players
  • iPods or MP3 players

Our teachers and staff will be ready and willing to accept all donations to deliver to a local children’s hospital, senior living facility, veteran’s hospital, or another non-profit organization.

If you are interested in donating, you can drop off items at the Marysville 911 Driving School location.

11603 State Ave Suite #D
Marysville, WA 98271

We hope that everyone in the community can get involved and help us give back to those most in need around us. Just make sure you drop them off by December 22.

Halloween Safety on the Road

Halloween Safety Tips on the Road

Halloween is a fun holiday, full of party-goers, people attending haunted houses, and trick-or-treaters. Most of the festivities for Halloween happen after it’s dark, making both events more fun.

There’s a scary side to this night though that doesn’t involve ghosts or ghouls; it’s all the dangers that happen during the night. Here are some great tips to keep you safe, whether you are the driver or the pedestrian.

Tips for Drivers

Drive Slowly. Wherever you are driving, there are most likely going to be a lot of pedestrians around. The best way to stay safe is to drive slowly.

Both children and teenagers don’t pay attention well when they are focused on friends or getting to the next house for candy. As a driver, you should anticipate that people will step into the road when it isn’t an intersection or crosswalk.

Park Legally. Be careful where you park. When you come to a crowded area at a Halloween party or event, make sure you are parked in a marked parking spot. Some drivers get lazy and park illegally when the only available spots are in the back of a parking lot, or the lot is full.

This presents a hazard for other cars because they can’t maneuver their vehicles around illegally parked cars, potentially damaging your car in the process. It also makes the area more difficult to see properly, increasing chances of an incident occurring.

Tips for Pedestrians

Cross Smart. While drivers should be going slow through neighborhoods and around crowded areas, that doesn’t mean the pedestrian has nothing to worry about.

Always look both ways before crossing the street and stay on the sidewalk. For adults taking little trick-or-treaters around, it is best to not let them run ahead too far. Teach them to always wait for you to cross the street.

Be Seen. To add another layer of protection, wear something that is reflective or has light. Many stores sell glow stick necklaces and bracelets to put on kids to make them more visible. When so many costumes are black, or dark colored, it makes it hard to see pedestrians.

Use Your Eyes. It’s also important that you increase your ability to see dangers. If you, or the younger members of your group, are wearing masks, you can’t see as well.

Make sure to walk around with the mask up and encourage others to do the same. You can always put the mask back on before you knock on the next door. It just isn’t worth the hazard to be difficult to see and not see well yourself.

Safety Awareness Event

To help promote awareness about staying safe on Halloween, 911 Spokane is hosting a fun trunk or treat event for the community. Come and collect candy from the trunks of cars. These types of events allow even your youngest ghouls, princesses, and superheroes to collect candy in a controlled, safe environment, where there will be no moving vehicles or streets to cross.

Let’s work together to help keep Halloween a fun holiday by preventing unnecessary tragedies.