Emergency Preparedness Kits for Your Car: What You Should Have in Yours

Emergency Preparedness Kits for Your Car | 911 Driving SchoolPeople depend on their cars to be reliable, but sometimes emergencies happen. It is a good idea for drivers to prepare for the worst by keeping an emergency preparedness kit in their car. If you have never made one before and need a little help in thinking of items to stow away, here are some great items to go in your kit.

A First Aid Kit

Having a first aid kit in your car comes in handier than you think. There are plenty of pre-packaged first aid kits on the market, but if you want to make your own, it isn’t too hard. Some items to include are band-aids, antibiotic ointment, hand sanitizer, gauze pads, an ace bandage, pain medication, bug spray, burn cream, tweezers, sunscreen, and antiseptic.

Having these items is helpful if you come upon an injury or just scrape your knee at the park. Since there are so many small items in a kit, make sure you store them in a container and leave it in your vehicle.

Breakdown Supplies

If your car breaks down, it is important you have the tools to fix it. Even if you don’t know what to do, having some basic items on hand will be helpful if someone comes along to help that does know what to do. Some items you should keep in your car are a spare tire, a tire iron, flashlight, jumper cables, and road flares.

Extra Clothing

There are several reasons to keep clothing in your car. There is the practical side of knowing you have extra clothes for work, school, or social events if you spill something on your clothes, but there is a better reason.

If your car breaks down or you get stuck in bad weather for a long time, you can layer up clothing to stay warm. You never know where you will get stuck or what you will be wearing. Keeping a spare jacket, coat, or rain poncho in the trunk is great if you aren’t sure when you will be stranded.

Food and Water

Keep at least a few water bottles in your trunk, along with snacks. If you ever get delayed, stuck in traffic, or stranded somewhere without food to purchase, you will be grateful to have something to eat.

Some items to consider are granola bars, fruit leather, jerky, gum, and hard candy (to suck on for a long time). Since food is perishable, make sure you are rotating these items so that you don’t have to eat food that has gone bad.

Other emergencies

Other items to consider keeping in your car for miscellaneous needs and emergencies are: a fire extinguisher for flames, a blanket to keep warm or wrap around a serious injury, a roll of duct tape for random needs, and baby wipes to clean up spills.

Keeping a little extra cash in your kit is a good idea too, just in case you forget your wallet or have an unexpected need come up without a credit card.

Extra Items that Fit Your Situation

No one is going to know your situation better than you do. If you are a family with small children, you might want to pack an extra pack of diapers and wipes, spare formula, and extra pacifiers.

If you have small kids, consider adding toys or coloring books. If you are a single young adult, you don’t need those things in your car, so find items that work for you, like a spare phone charger.

 

Another important thing is to cater to your environment. Are you in the middle of winter in the Midwest? You might want to pack a lot of extra blankets. If you live in southern Texas, you might want to pack a lot of extra water bottles and a hat.

Consider your own situation and location and find what works for you. Having an emergency kit in your car will not only make you more prepared but also give you more peace of mind.

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter

How to Prepare Your Car for Winter | 911 Driving SchoolChecking your car regularly is important to keep it functioning correctly. As the weather gets warmer and colder, it acts as a reminder for you to do some work on your car. Since both hot and cold affect your car differently, here are the three things you should do for the winter weather.

Get a check-up

Taking a trip to the mechanic is a great first step. A professional inspection will go over the basics. The first step is checking your oil. When the weather cools down, the oil will thicken and make it harder to lubricate your engine properly.

The other important fluid to check for cold weather is the antifreeze. If the mixture isn’t right, the water might freeze in your radiator, causing some serious damage.

Next, your belts and hoses will be checked. Since winter is hard on these parts, it is important to make sure they are in good enough condition to last the winter.

Lastly, it is important to verify that your tires are ready for winter with enough air pressure and tread. Both play an important part of having good traction on wet and icy roads.

Test basic functions

Two things that anyone can do, regardless of car expertise, are to check your wiper blades and four-wheel drive. Finding out that either one of these doesn’t work while in a storm can create a dangerous situation.

Make sure your blades completely clear your windshield. If they don’t, change them out for new ones that can do the job.

Checking your four-wheel drive is also important to do before you are in a storm. Remind yourself and the other drivers in your home how to turn it on and off. Make sure it engages and disengages smoothly. If there are any problems, get it fixed before you need it in a storm.

Prepare for the worst

No matter how much you check and get maintenance done, there is still a possibility that you will end up in an emergency. Stocking your car with some essentials can really help you out if it happens. To start, always make sure you have the tools necessary to change a flat tire, including a spare. Carry other essentials such as a flashlight and external charger for your phone, in case you need them.

Other things that are good to have in your trunk are water bottles, snacks, a blanket, ice scraper, and windshield washer fluid. During the winter, you can also add chains for your tires, just in case you need them for traction.

 

Depending on where you live, you might not need to complete every step on this list. However, if you live in an area where it does get freezing, it’s important to prepare every year. Keep a list of the work you do so you can refer to it the next year. If you don’t live in an area where it gets cold, do this work before you head to a colder climate for the holidays.

Driving Responsibly During the Holidays

Driving Responsibly During the Holidays | 911 Driving SchoolThe holiday season is a time when families come together, friends get together, and employers throw a party for their employees. It is common for these types of functions to have a lot of alcohol available for celebrating. Whether you are attending these parties or hosting them, here are some tips you can use to help yourself and others drive responsibly.

Attending a Party

There are plenty of parties to attend, which provides plenty of opportunities to practice responsible driving habits. The best thing you can do is plan to get home safely after the party if you plan to drink at the party. If you arrange a ride ahead of time, you are more likely to follow through with it instead of debating your fitness for driving at the moment. This way, you can just enjoy your time at the party and know that you have a safe ride home.

If you are attending a party with a group, have a designated driver who will stay sober to drive everyone else home at the end. If you are the designated driver, take your job seriously and don’t drink any alcohol. Ask if there is alcohol in a drink before taking a sip. If your group is attending multiple parties together, take turns being the designated driver so that everyone can participate at some point.

If you are attending a party alone and plan to drive home, you still need to have a plan before going. Tell others that you trust about your plans to drive home and won’t be drinking during the party. Steer clear of friends who will pressure you into drinking. Don’t give into temptation or hang around the alcohol and always double check that you aren’t drinking a spiked punch.

Hosting a Party

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there were an estimated 10,874 people who were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2017. As the host of a party, you have some responsibility to make sure that your guests don’t end up in these statistics. If you plan to serve alcohol at your party, consider the following suggestions.

  • Provide a variety of drinks, including options that don’t contain alcohol
  • Limit the number of alcoholic drinks available to each guest
  • Provide a list of car service or rideshare numbers for guests who have been drinking
  • Be proactive at noticing and intercepting anyone who is impaired and planning to drive
  • Don’t drink at your own party so that you can offer rides home, if necessary

As the host of the party, you can do a lot to keep your guests safe. Provide a fun atmosphere and take steps to watch out for your guests. If it comes down to it, be prepared to take someone’s keys away if they try to get behind the wheel while drunk. You might just save their life and possibly others on the road too. Even if it makes them mad, one day they will thank you for caring enough to intervene.

Whether you are attending parties this holiday season or hosting a party, it is possible to have a good time while still driving responsibly. By following these tips, you can have an enjoyable time at your parties while also getting home safely.

The 4 P’s for Dealing with Heavy Holiday Traffic

The 4 P's For Dealing with Heavy Holiday Traffic | 911 Driving SchoolThe holidays are a magical time of year with the lights, sights, and feeling in the air. One thing that isn’t so fun about the holidays is the extra traffic on all the roads. It is frustrating to try and get anywhere.

If you find yourself in some extra heavy holiday traffic this year, keep in mind the four P’s for dealing with it; plan extra time, practice good driving habits, proactive driving, and patience.

Plan extra time.

Times of heavy traffic like weekend evenings, dinner time, rush hours, and around special events, it is important that you allow some extra time for driving. Leave early to reach your celebration on time and don’t rely on estimated GPS travel time. Car crashes, construction, and more drivers on the road at once add up to heavy delays during the holidays.

If you want to make sure you reach your holiday work party, family function, or any other get-together on time, give yourself some extra time to get there. This will help you feel happier and less stressed behind the wheel, which decreases risky maneuvers in traffic and road rage during your travels.

Practice good driving habits.

Following proper driving etiquette is more than just good advice, it’s the law. During times of heavy traffic, it is especially important to follow procedure. Make sure that you signal before turning, switching lanes, or waiting for a parking spot.

Don’t follow the car in front of you too closely and give them plenty of room to drive. Watch how fast you are traveling. Drivers tend to drive too fast when they have been feeling stuck to make up time. If there is the typical holiday weather of rain or snow, it is especially dangerous.

Proactive driving.

While no one can read minds, you can anticipate the actions of other drivers. Stay safe by watching cues, like attempting to switch lanes, not watching the light change at an intersection, or staying vigilant for a driver suddenly pulling into traffic. If you are watching other drivers, chances are good that you are giving the road your attention and not paying attention to a cell phone.

Patience is a virtue.

While the holidays are full of fun and giving, there is also a lot of stress. People are out buying gifts, everyone out rushing around to the different sales, and others are trying to travel for the holidays to see their family and friends. It isn’t easy to get everything done and can leave you feeling tired and impatient on the roads.

Remember to slow down, bring things to keep kids busy in the back seat, and find ways to make your time in the car more enjoyable, like audiobooks, podcasts, or listening to a new Christmas album. Keeping yourself calm and trying to be more patient can lead to a more enjoyable experience on the road, even during heavy holiday traffic.

 

These four tips are a great starting point when dealing with heavy traffic during the holidays. Following them can help guide you to make better choices behind the wheel and having a more successful holiday this year.

Parallel Parking in 5 Simple Steps

Parallel Parking in 5 Simple Steps | 911 Driving SchoolNothing sends chills through the spine of a student in driver’s education like parallel parking. Thanks in part to Hollywood, this form of parking has become notorious for being difficult. But what if it isn’t as difficult as you might think? With some patience and practice, parallel parking can be mastered by remembering these five simple steps to doing it right.

Selecting a Space

The first step to parallel parking can really impact how difficult the parking job will be, so pick carefully. Choose a spot to park your car that has enough space to fit your vehicle. While this might sound like an obvious consideration, many people struggle with parallel parking because they pick a space that is too small.

As you pull up to a spot, notice how much room you will have in front and behind your car once parked. There needs to be a comfortable amount for you to back into the spot and straighten out, but also enough room for the cars around you to pull out easily. If you aren’t sure the spot is big enough, it is usually better to just pass and go find a different parking space.

Signal and Pass the Spot

Parallel parking isn’t done by pulling in with the front of your car first. You must pass the spot and back into it to do it successfully. Let the drivers around you know that you intend to park there by turning on your blinker. Pull up next to the car you will be parking behind and line up your back bumper with their back bumper. This puts you in the prime position for parallel parking.

Pull-In

Slowly begin to back up into the spot, aiming toward the back-right corner of the parking spot with your bumper. Turn and watch over your shoulder, but also utilize your rear-view mirrors to get a clear picture of your surroundings. Once you are lined up with the bumper of the car in front of you, you are in the spot and ready for step four.

Straighten the Tires

Once you are in the spot, straighten out the tires by centering the wheel. This will help you finish pulling all the way in without hitting the cars around you.

Center the Car

Do your best to center your vehicle between the front and rear cars. Again, you want to make sure that both drivers will have enough space to pull out without hitting your vehicle. Once you are centered, you can put the car in park.

 

After completing these five steps, you have successfully parallel parked your vehicle. You may safely exit your car and go about your business. This may all seem like a lot to remember at first, but after a few practice parking jobs, you will start to feel more comfortable doing it.

When just starting out, it might be best to do some practice parking between two orange cones that give you a generous amount of space between them. Move them closer together as you get better at parking between them. This will help build your confidence and help you stay calm during your driving test.

How to Pass a Semi

How to Pass a Semi | 911 Driving SchoolDriver’s education covers a lot of important topics, but one thing people seem to panic about and do incorrectly is passing a semi-truck. Since these trucks are bigger and slower, they intimidate a lot of drivers.

Too many others get impatient and do improper maneuvers to get around or ahead of the trucks. Here are some basic things you should know before, during, and after passing a semi.

Before You Pass

As you approach a semi-truck, there are some things you need to know. One of the most important things to remember is that there are massive blind spots for truck drivers. Because of the height of the driver, the length of the trailers they pull, and their inability to have a good view behind the truck, there are blinds spots on the sides, front, and back of the trucks.

Some trucks have stickers on the back indicating the distances you should give them, but not all do. As a good rule of thumb, if you can’t see the driver of the truck in their side-view mirrors, they can’t see you. If you are in front of them in the same lane and can’t see their face in your rear-view mirrors, you might be too close for them to see you.

It is especially important between the times of 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, which is when 37% of fatal crashes involving a truck happen because visibility is drastically decreased.

As You Pass

Once you begin to pass, don’t linger in their blind spots for too long. Drivers are more likely to see you if you keep moving quickly past them. If they do not know that you are there, the driver might try to merge into your lane and right into your car. Accelerate as you pass and don’t slow down until you have passed them completely.

Another important thing to remember is that you should always pass trucks on their left. The biggest blind spot for a semi driver is on the right of the truck. Chances of the driver not seeing you are increased if you are on that side of the truck.

It is also good to remember that you should always pass cars on the left because those are the passing lanes. According to law, slower traffic is supposed to stay right. If there are more than two lanes going in the same direction, it should range in slowest traffic in the far-right lane with each lane to the left going a little faster. This traffic pattern keeps traffic flowing smoothly.

After You Pass

Once you have passed a semi, you should not merge immediately in front of it. Instead, give them a lot more room than a normal car because of the blind spot on the front of the truck. Merging too quickly is the same as cutting the truck driver off. This is not only rude, but it is very dangerous.

The typical truck weighs over 10,000 pounds and when traveling at 60 miles per hour on the freeway, it takes the length of about 3 football fields to come to a complete stop. This is the second most common maneuver that drivers do around semis that is unsafe. If you merge and then brake suddenly or slow down, it can be a dangerous situation for you and the semi driver.

 

If you can remember the steps of passing a semi, driving around them doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Don’t get impatient with the truck drivers and give them plenty of room. Treating each other with respect and being considerate will help ensure everyone reaches their destination safely.

Driver Safety: Halloween

Driver Safety Halloween | 911 HalloweenWith Halloween fast approaching, it is time to review some driver safety tips for staying safe. To make sure your Halloween is a night full of treats, here are five safety guidelines for driving on Halloween night.

1. Watch Your Speed

No matter where you are driving, it is important to take special care to drive slowly on Halloween. With so many kids out trick or treating, you never know when someone will run out into the road or step off a sidewalk.

Pedestrians aren’t concerned about staying in crosswalks when they are collecting candy. With costumes on, pedestrians might not be able to see well, limiting their ability to see oncoming traffic. If you drive slowly, you can stop faster if someone does step in front of your moving car.

2. Don’t Drive with a Mask

If you are headed to a Halloween party, chances are you are driving in a costume. Don’t ever drive a vehicle with a mask on because it limits your visibility. Avoid wearing any costumes that cover the head at all, including the ears, so that you can keep all your senses alert.

It is better to leave a few minutes early or be a little late and add the rest of your costume once you get to your destination than it is to be unsafe while driving.

3. Avoid driving through neighborhoods

If possible, avoid driving where there is a higher concentration of trick-or-treaters or party-goers, including neighborhoods or areas offering trunk-or-treats. If you must go through one of these areas, use extra caution pulling in and out of driveways, pulling into traffic, and always keep your headlights on. Try to stick to main roads and avoid taking shortcuts through back streets.

4. Limit distractions

It is extra important to avoid any distractions when driving through crowded areas, risky situations, or on a day when people are a little more reckless, like a holiday. Distractions can include things such as cell phones, loud music, and eating while driving.

Another dangerous distraction is passengers in the car who might be rowdy or trying to carry on too many conversations with the driver, distracting their attention from the road. Focusing on the road is very important to stay safe, so eliminate anything that might distract you from driving safely.

5. Don’t drive when under the influence

Many parties provide substances for the celebration like alcohol or drugs that slow your reaction time, reduces your ability to concentrate, affect your coordination, and prevent good judgement. Choose to stay away from consuming like this that will impair your ability to drive. If you plan to have any alcohol or drugs, make sure you have a designated driver beforehand or have an alternate way to get home planned.

 

While getting scared and playing pranks may be a part of some Halloween traditions, make sure that your focus is on keeping you and your passengers safe this year. Nothing spoils the fun like an injury or car crash. Make safety a priority for yourself this Halloween by following these simple driving tips.

The Four Golden Rules of Four Way Stops

The Four Golden Rules of Four Way Stops | 911 Driving School

Four-way stops are simple, in theory. They are specific intersections where all four directions of traffic come to a stop and then take turns proceeding through. Too often though, drivers pull up and don’t remember who should go through the intersection first. To help decrease confusion, here are four simple rules that can help you remember whose turn it is at a four-way stop.

Go in order

Since everyone knows how to take turns, the easiest scenario is when drivers come to a stop at a four-way stop at different times. When you pull up to the intersection, notice the order of arrival. The vehicle that arrives first gets to go through the intersection first. The second person to pull up to the intersection goes through second and so on.

Right goes first

If two vehicles come to a stop at the four-way stop at the same time and are side-by-side, the right-of-way goes to the person who is on the right. If you are on the left, yield to the other driver and then proceed through the intersection before anyone else who has arrived at the intersection.

Straight, then turn

Two vehicles pulling up to the intersection directly across from each other means that no one is on the right. The driver who gets the right-of-way is the driver going straight. If both are going straight, there is no need to wait since both vehicles can safely go through the intersection.

Right before left

In this last scenario, two cars pull up to the intersection, directly across the intersection from each other, at the same time. If one is signaling to go left and the other is signaling to go right, they both intend to turn into the same lane of traffic. The right-of-way goes to the driver who is turning right.

The only scenario that doesn’t fall into these four rules is if four vehicles all pull up to a four-way stop at the same time. There isn’t a rule to establish who has the right-of-way if this happens. There will usually be a driver who is more aggressive and pulls into the intersection first and everyone else should proceed carefully afterward.

Drivers should always use communication to keep themselves and others safe. Always use your signals to let everyone know which direction you are intending to turn. If there is any confusion at an intersection on who has the right-of-way, be courteous and use your hand to wave the other person through.

These four rules are laws that help to keep traffic flowing and everyone safe on the road. Don’t be so attached to the fact it is your turn to go through the intersection first that you neglect safety. Sometimes people get confused or don’t remember the correct order of who has the right-of-way. Yield to an aggressive driver and then proceed as usual. Don’t let yourself get caught up in escalating the situation into road rage. Do your best to follow the rules and you have the best chance of staying safe at four-way stops.

Is Your Teen Ready to Drive?

Is Your Teen Ready to Drive? | 911 Driving School

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.

Driver Safety: Back to School

Driver Safety Back to School | 911 Driving SchoolAs schools are starting to be back in session, it’s an important time to review driving safely in these areas. During the school year, there are three major points of safety that every driver should remember. The first is what the laws of crosswalks are, the second is paying attention to school zones, and the third is how to drive when a school bus is present.

1. Crosswalk Laws

Crosswalks aren’t exclusive to schools, but there are more of them around a school. It is common for students to walk to school and have crossing guards to help them.

If you are approaching an intersection, the crossing guard is the traffic authority. They have been trained to help students cross safely and manage the flow of traffic at the same time. Drive slowly and pay attention to their movements. If they have a stop sign held up, you are required to stop. Do not proceed through the intersection until they had indicated it is safe by putting their sign down or waving you through.

Not all crosswalks have a crossing guard. If you see students waiting to cross or stepping into the road, you must stop. Let them cross and leave enough room that other drivers can see them too. Do not drive through the crosswalk until they have safely passed out of all the lanes going your direction.

Be extra vigilant at intersections where you are turning and have a walking signal. If you aren’t always watching and paying attention to pedestrians, you could cause a serious injury.

2. Paying Attention to School Zones

When school zone signs have flashing lights, slow down. This is an important law because it helps prevent serious problems. High numbers of students are going to school or heading home when these lights are flashing.

Young students are a bigger risk because they can step out on the road while not paying attention or chasing after something and not looking for cars. Driving at a reduced speed helps you to stop the car quickly.

Another thing to remember about school zones is that there are going to be a lot of extra cars and buses in the area transporting students. When there is heavy traffic, visibility can be lowered. Cars are also likely to pull in front of you, requiring a quick stop. Even when the sign indicates the end of a school zone, continue to be on high alert.

3. How to Drive When a School Bus is Present

The first rule of driving when a school bus is present is to watch for stops. If a school bus stops with flashing lights and an extended stop sign, you are required to stop.

Do not ever try to go around a school bus in this situation. First, because it’s illegal and second because there are students running to or getting off the bus and heading in all directions. Since drivers are required to stop, these students are not looking for oncoming traffic. You won’t be able to see everything a bus driver can so be sure to be patient.