Category Archives: Driving Safety

Driving Safely at Night

Driving Safely at Night

Safe driving in the nighttime hours is an important skill for all drivers to acquire. For people who commute to work and school, there are a lot of hours in the dark driving from mid-fall to mid-spring. While dark driving conditions are more dangerous than during the daytime, it can be done with extra skills and training. 

The Risks of Driving in the Dark

As mentioned before, the most dangerous part of driving in the dark is the reduced visibility of the road. From hazards on and around the road to seeing pedestrians better, everything is harder to see in the dark. Headlights cannot light up all your surroundings, especially in undeveloped areas where there are less cars and more animals. Human eyes have a harder time seeing too, giving a driver limited depth perception, less peripheral vision, and an inability to recognize colors.

Nighttime Driving Tips

Even though vision is limited in the dark, there are some basic adjustments to behaviors and the vehicle to make sure you are maximizing your site to stay safer.

  • Increase the effectiveness of your headlights by keeping them clean
  • Adjust the headlight beams so they are correctly pointed ahead at the road
  • Keep dashboard lights dim enough that they do not interfere with your ability to see outside the car but not so dim that it is hard to see the buttons
  • If you wear glasses, be sure to wear them while driving in the dark. To reduce the glare of oncoming headlights and dashboard lights, buy a pair for nighttime driving that are anti-reflective
  • Keep your windshield clean and free from streaks
  • Avoid looking directly into headlights of other cars
  • Decrease your driving speed

Be sure to stay focused on the road and put away distractions like your phone. Other distractions may include eating messy foods or focusing too much on conversations with passengers in the car.

Avoiding Drowsy Driving

One obstacle of driving in the dark is fighting the instinct to feel sleepier in dark conditions. The brain is already pre-programmed to feel sleepier at night. The glare of oncoming headlights compound the problem because it causes the eyes to become more tired.

Staying awake and alert at the wheel is vital to staying safe. Driving while drowsy is as dangerous as driving under the influence of a substance. When a person is tired, their thinking and ability to react slow down and it is harder to focus, very similarly to driving while drunk.

If you notice yourself feeling drowsy, here are some ideas you can use to stay awake and alert:

  • Get enough rest each night to ensure you are well rested
  • If you find yourself falling asleep, pull off in a safe place and take a nap. Even 15 minutes can give you enough of a rest to finish your drive
  • Avoid driving during your typical sleeping hours

The most common ways drivers stay awake is drinking caffeine, eating crunchy snacks, turning the music up loud and singing along, or having a conversation with a passenger. Each of these can keep a driver awake but be careful not to let any of these strategies distract your attention from the road.

Driving at night is an important skill to develop for all drivers, which is why most states require driver’s education courses to teach it. With practice and safe practices, drivers do not have to be intimidated by driving in the dark. Instead, just make some small adjustments to your behaviors and vehicle to stay safe.

Which is Deadlier: Drowsy Driving or Drunk Driving?

Drowsy Driving vs Drunk Driving

The average adult does not get enough sleep during the night. There are several contributing factors to this and many health problems, but it also leads to problems on the roads. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety took data on driving behaviors for 2018 and found that those who are not getting enough sleep are four times more likely to crash than drivers who are getting at least seven hours of sleep.

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving

There have been several organizations over the last few decades that have made it a priority to educate the public on the dangers of drunk driving. While new student drivers are being taught about the risks of drowsy driving, there are not major campaigns to educate the public on its dangers. Many drivers still know that it is dangerous, yet almost a third of drivers polled admit to driving when overly tired in the last month. This means there is still a big problem on the roads that needs more education.

When it comes to drowsy driving, the dangers are in the body’s functions. When the body is overly tired, the reaction times are slower. Pushing on the brake or steering quickly if cut off, there is a hazard in the road, or anything else requires quick reflexes and thinking. When tired, the body cannot react as it would normally, like reaction times when driving drunk.

Another part of drowsy driving is that the driver can fall asleep for a second or two while driving. This is an added level of danger because the car is moving uncontrolled. The danger increases the faster a car is driving too. When people are going for long drives, they tend to be on roads with a higher speed limit.

Signs You’re Tired

Most people are aware of when they are tired, but when driving, these signs should get extra attention. The most common signs are:

  • Struggling to keep eyes open
  • Vision goes in and out of focus
  • Drifting from your lane
  • Not remembering the last few miles driven
  • Missing signs or turns
  • Frequent yawning

If you notice these behaviors, you are too tired to be driving. Do not try and push through to get to your destination. Instead, there are other things you can do to wake up. Try pulling off the road into a safe area to walk around the car a few times. Take a drink of water or eat something. This can help get the blood flowing and wake you up more. If you have a long way to drive still, pull off in a safe spot and take a nap. Sleep experts say that a quick, 20 to 30-minute nap is all that is needed to become rested. While this may seem frustrating to delay your trip, it is more important to arrive safely.

The most dangerous drivers are those who don’t recognize potential dangers. Being a responsible driver is making the right choices to keep yourself and others on the road safe. Don’t become a danger to others by not recognizing your limitations. You would never drive drunk, so don’t drive drowsy.

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.

What to do after a car crash?

Tips for after a car crash

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 32,000 people died in traffic crashes in 2014.

Even after driving lessons and focused, proactive driving, a crash can happen. It is important to be ready for such an occurrence so you can keep yourself and others safe from further harm. Here are a few steps to take if involved in an accident:

Stay calm

Stay calm and make sure that everyone in the car is okay. Staying calm is important because erratic behavior can cause more damage to you, others or your vehicle. Have confidence that things will be okay. Be sure to turn on flashers and move your car to a safe location if safe to do so.

Make safety you first priority

If you cannot get out of the car or if someone is seriously hurt, be sure to keep your seat belt fastened and call 911. If the accident is not serious, turn on the emergency flashers as you get out of the car and assess the damage. If you feel unsafe, you can call 911 and ask for an officer to assist at the crash site.

Get the correct information

Ask for the driver’s license and insurance information from the other driver involved in the accident. Take down the name, address, phone number of the other driver and any passengers in their car and yours. If possible, take a picture of the other Drivers license, insurance card, and their vehicle license plate. This will ensure you can contact the person if there are any problems with your car or your health due to the crash. Take pictures of the damage and send them to your insurance agent— they can help you know what to do next.

After you assess damage and contact the police, take your car to a mechanic to get your car checked. This can save you money by detecting problems that you cannot see. So, remember to stay safe, call the right authorities and get the correct information at the crash site.

Also, remember that proactive driving can keep you from getting into a crash.  Find out more about our defensive driving courses at 911 Driving School.