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.

Taking a “Brake” for National Teen Driver Safety Week

Taking a Brake for National Teen Driver Safety Week

The week of October 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week. What does this mean to you and why is it important? Teen drivers are considered a high-risk group of drivers because of their inexperience behind the wheel and tendency to make rash decisions.

This week was set up as an outreach to teen drivers in ways that help raise awareness about certain issues. States have their own campaigns that promote the different areas of distracted driving, the importance of seat belts, and not driving impaired.

Distracted Driving

Distracted driving comes in many forms, including eating, applying make-up, or picking things up off the floor of a moving car. The importance of always paying attention to the road while operating a vehicle is vital to keeping drivers safe and from causing harm to others. Two areas of emphasis for many states are the distractions of cell phones and friends in the car.

Cellphones

One of the biggest distractions to drivers of every age are cellphones. This is highlighted during teen driver safety week to prevent habits from sticking. Since the brain is not fully developed in rational decision making when most teens get their license, it is important to emphasize the point multiple times that looking at a cellphone screen for just five seconds endangers the teen driver, surrounding drivers, and pedestrians.

Friends

The U.S. Department of Transportation has distributed a study on the effect of passengers in the vehicle with teen drivers. It’s no surprise that a group of friends in the car is going to distract the driver because of volume and horseplay. When multiple teenaged peers are in the car, horseplay was 9 times more likely and loud conversation increased 26% of the time, as compared to when an adult or parent was present. With more rowdiness and disorder happening in the car, it’s easy to see how the driver can’t focus as well on operating the vehicle. Other teens were more likely to engage in risky behavior and ignore traffic laws with friends present.

Wearing a Seatbelt

Buckling up has been a national campaign to spread the message that it can make the difference between life and death in a car accident. Plenty of movies have been made that show consequences of no seatbelts and pledges are available for signing. Parents can also make an effort to emphasize the need to put on a seatbelt before starting the vehicle.

Impaired Driving

Some vendors are using this week to emphasize the dangers of impaired driving. Whether it’s alcohol, drugs, or prescription medication, it is important that teens know to not drive under the influence of these items. Using the drunk goggles or a driving simulator with delayed reactions in place, organizations are showing teens what it feels like to be impaired behind the wheel when they can think straight. Hopefully, these demonstrations continue to spread awareness and prevent tragedies in the future.

If you want to get involved in National Teen Driver Safety Week, talk to your local city council, driver’s education program, or state’s Department of Transportation to see what events they have going on. Training the youngest drivers to be responsible is putting them on a path of safety for the rest of their lives.

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.