Category Archives: Driving Safety

Examining the Impact of Distracted Driving

Distracted DrivingOne of the biggest threats on the road today is drivers being distracted. Thousands are injured every year, yet this is a problem that many drivers don’t take seriously enough. The official definition of distracted driving by the NHTSA is doing any kind of non-driving activity behind the wheel of a vehicle. While a cellphone gets the most attention for distracting drivers, there are many more culprits that take the attention of a driver.

The Categories of Distraction

There are three main categories that distractions fall into:

  • Visual: it takes your eyes off the road
  • Manual: it takes your hands off the wheel
  • Cognitive: it takes your mind off driving

Some of the most common distractions include eating and drinking, fiddling with the dashboard, picking up dropped items, and engaging in conversation with passengers or on the cellphone. Many distractions fall into more than one category, increasing the danger to others on the road.

Statistics of Distracted Driving

Every driver is guilty of being distracted behind the wheel. Being mindful and attentive takes extra effort, but it is worth avoiding some of the terrible consequences that come from being distracted. Here are some statistics involving distracted driving.

The number one cause of car crashes is distracted driving. With more than 2.5 million people involved in a car crashes annually, some estimate that distracted driving is responsible for injuring up to 1,000 people each day.

Multitasking requires the brain to focus on one thing, switching between tasks quickly. The more you do while driving, the less you can focus on the road. If it is a cellphone you’re glancing at, even for a quick second or two, it takes up to 13 seconds to completely refocus on your surroundings. Eye activity also slows down during multi-tasking. During these times of focusing and refocusing, the brain isn’t fully focused on driving. 

A vehicle traveling 30 miles per hour goes approximately 44 feet per second. Taking your eyes off the road for even 3 seconds means the car goes 132 feet without someone actively controlling it. There are countless problems that can happen during this time like a car braking up ahead, another driver pulling into traffic ahead of you, a changing light or missed stop sign, or even a child running into the road. One study found almost 80 percent of crashes involved a driver not paying attention for the three seconds leading up to the collision.

Taking the same routes or driving in familiar surroundings cause a driver to feel comfortable and pay less attention to the road. Approximately 77 percent of car crashes occur less than 15 miles of a destination. Driving in auto-pilot mode is dangerous for any driver, so never let your guard down.

Consequences of Distracted Driving

Depending on the state you reside, there are varying consequences for driving distracted. To help emphasize the need for paying attention while driving, here are some steps states have taken to legislate change.

  • Almost every state has laws against texting and driving.
  • Some states have outlawed in-hand devices while others are working toward similar legislation.
  • Police officers are watching more vigilantly for drivers not paying attention to the road. They even have devices to see when a cellphone was last used to bust drivers using their phones.
  • Many states enforce some sort of graduated licensing laws that limit passengers in the car for new drivers.

Each of these laws come with varying fees and consequences. Insurance companies are also paying attention. If a driver is ticketed with one of these offenses, they can enforce their own consequences, including raising rates or not renewing a policy.

To keep everyone on the road around you safe, it is important to always pay attention while driving. This helps protect yourself, the other drivers, and any pedestrians in the area. Driver safety is an important part of drivers education and should be a focus for every veteran driver too. 

3 Tips to Prepare for the Drive Home from the New Year’s Party

3 Tips to Prepare for Your Drive Home from the New Years Party | 911 Driving School

New Year’s Eve is full of parties with games, movie marathons, and alcohol. If you are planning to count down to midnight with a bunch of your friends, have a plan so that you are ready for a full night of fun. Here are three helpful tips on how you can get home from your New Year’s Party safely.

1. Arrange for a Ride Beforehand

If you know that you are going to be drinking while you are at a party, plan a ride home before you leave. Waiting until the last second to find a ride home might make your job more difficult.

Make a rule to yourself that you will never get behind the wheel of a car if you have had anything to drink. Never base your ability to drive on how you feel because you will often make excuses or downplay the way you really feel.

Alcohol gives drinkers an initial feeling of stimulation, but it quickly slows reaction times and limits inhibitions. The more alcohol that is consumed, the more it compromises the abilities to function normally and think clearly. Even if it has been a long time since your last drink, the alcohol is still in your system and impairing judgment.

If you know that you are planning to drink, have a designated driver in your group, prepare to call a ride-share service or have a pre-arranged time for a family member to pick you up.

2. Just Don’t Drink

While you may know beforehand that you are going to drink, you may also know beforehand that you are not going to drink at all.

You may be the designated driver for your group, too young to be drinking, or just want to drive yourself home at the end of the night. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to a party and have a good time. Instead, enjoy the food, socialize, or play games. Just because everyone else is drinking doesn’t mean you have to join in too.

If you know your limitations and don’t want to put yourself into a situation that you might be uncomfortable, you can also choose to just stay home or throw your own party where there is no alcohol involved.

3. Spend the Night

Ask your friend who is throwing the party if you can spend the night. If you are going out to a bar or a city party, pick one close to a friend’s house so the two of you can keep partying without worrying about driving home in traffic. On New Year’s Eve, there are often drunk drivers on the road, making it less safe to be there.

 

Around New Year’s Eve, two to three times more people die in alcohol-related car crashes than the rest of the month. While these tips may help you get a ride home safely, remember that you can also help keep other people safe too.

If you notice that someone is going to drive after being drunk, it is important to speak up. If possible, take their keys and help them find another way home. When you look out for others, you really can save a life.

The Best Tips for Driving in Bad Weather

911 Driving School - The Rules of Driving in Bad Weather

Around the United States, winter weather is setting in. For many states, that means conditions like rain, fog, snow, and ice. No matter how long you have been driving, brushing up on what to do in certain types of weather is a great way to stay safe.

Driving in the Rain

  • Turn on your headlights. Not only will this help you see better in the darker weather, but it will help other drivers spot you more easily.
  • Stay in the middle of the road. On a multi-lane road, avoid staying in the far-right lane. This is where water tends to pool, covering the road’s edge and hazards that are there.
  • Avoid puddles. Again, water pooling can cover dangerous parts of the road, such as potholes and debris. Hydroplaning is also a risk when driving in pooled water, causing you to lose control of your vehicle.

Navigating through Fog

Use low beam headlights

While headlights won’t help you see much in the fog, only low beams will improve visibility. Using regular or high beam headlights will cause the light to reflect off the water in the air and make it harder to see. This is taught in online driver’s ed classes, but driving in fog isn’t a common driving condition for most new drivers, requiring an extra reminder.

Don’t pass

Staying in your lane is trickier in the fog, but more important because you cannot see cars coming in the other direction.

Focus on the white line

The white line on the right-hand side of the road is an excellent guide during the fog. It is easier to see and can help ensure you stay on the road.

Signal longer

Another hazard of decreased visibility comes when a car is turning, and other drivers cannot see well enough. To help decrease the risks, leave your turn signal on longer to give ample notice of your intentions.

Snow and Ice Driving

Turn slowly

When approaching a turn, whether it is a curve in the road or turning at an intersection, do not accelerate. Brake slightly as you turn so that you don’t spin out of control.

Accelerate slowly

Icy, slippery roads make tires spin faster. If you are pressing the gas too fast, it can cause the tires to spin very fast, digging themselves into the snow and ice.

Watch for black ice

A thin layer of translucent ice, or black ice, is hard to spot. When you hit black ice, your car is more likely to spin-off. Watch carefully for slippery looking spots on the road.

General Guidelines

All bad weather requires some common adjustments. To stay safe, consider using these general tips for any time you find yourself driving in bad weather.

Slow down

Seeing clearly in any of these bad weather scenarios is dangerous. Slow down and use extreme caution.

Leave extra following room

Not leaving enough space in front of your car can cause a car crash. From less visibility to bad weather, you never know when you will need to stop quickly. Leaving room in front of you gives extra space and warning before hitting the brakes.

Plan accordingly

Leave with plenty of time to reach your destination so you won’t stress about hurrying to get there on time. Also, let others know you will be on the road and which route you are taking in case you end up needing help.

Remember the Basics

If possible, it is best to stay off the roads during moments of bad weather. If you do have to drive, try hard to remember the material covered in your driving lessons. Even if you don’t remember every detail, relax and trust your instincts to kick in. Focusing on the basics of driving will help keep you safe.

Ways to Overcome Adult Driving Anxiety

911 Driving School - Ways to Overcome Adult Driving AnxietyDriving anxiety is feeling hesitant to drive or when anxiety is always present when driving. This anxiety can be a fear or a full-blown phobia, but it is usually irrational. Avoiding driving can be difficult if you live in an area where there isn’t good public transportation. The good news is that driving anxiety is common and can be conquered. Here are some tips for helping yourself overcome adult driving anxiety.

1. Keep Driving

For many who experience anxiety while driving, it only gets worse the longer you avoid it. That is true for all fears, phobias, and anxieties. The best thing to do is start slow and go easy on yourself. Be patient and stick to close locations. Avoid the highway and drive in the daytime so you can ease into driving when feeling anxious. If you are experiencing driving anxiety because of an accident, the sooner you start driving afterward, the better you fare in the long run with keeping anxiety under control.

2. Bring Someone You Trust

A great way to combat the fear of driving is to have someone ride in the passenger seat who you trust. It can be a friend, family member, or a driving instructor. Having someone there to listen or help talk you through the anxiety can relieve a lot of the stress involved. Even if they just make some small talk, it can help get your mind off your fears and just focus on the driving.

3. Take a Driver’s Course

If you have never gotten your driver’s license and would like to as an adult, enroll in a course of driving lessons for adults. If you already have your license and are feeling a lot of anxiety, it can be helpful to re-enroll in a driver’s course to help refresh your skills and increase your confidence. These classes also give you an opportunity to practice with an instructor, which can bring some peace of mind.

4. Make the Car Peaceful

External factors like sounds and smells can contribute to increased stress while driving, especially if you are already feeling stressed. To help soothe yourself and create a peaceful environment, play soothing music while you drive and keep an air freshener in your car. Lavender is a common smell that relaxes, but you can pick any smell that helps you feel peaceful. Also, try to keep your car clean and organized for a clearer mind.

5. Manage Your Stress

One of the common underlying issues of driving with anxiety is feeling stress in other areas of your life. Try decreasing the other stressors in your life and incorporate general ways of dealing with stress by exercising, taking breaks, meditating, or whatever you find most helpful. During driving, it can be helpful to say positive affirmations out loud. Hearing these positive statements, such as “I can do this” and “I am a good driver” help boost confidence and fortify this state of mind.

Practice, Practice, Practice

Since there is no way to tell when anxiety will hit you, it is a great idea to keep multiple tactics up your sleeve to help deal with driving anxiety. That way, when it does start to set in, you are prepared and know that you can calm your thoughts. Keep driving and keep trying. Eventually you will learn how to cope and conquer the fear of driving.