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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.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

The Dangers of Texting and DrivingKeeping up with your friends is important in high school. More than 80% of teens own a cellphone to help them communicate with their friends, family, and extracurricular activities. There are so many things pulling for your attention, but when you are behind the wheel, it’s important to focus. Teens are infamous for risky behaviors, but one of the most dangerous is texting and driving.

People in general feel invincible, but it’s more common in teenagers. Texting and driving is something that most people feel like they are completely capable of doing with no problems. Statistics tell a different story though. Here are some of the most important statistics that can show you just how dangerous this is for drivers everywhere.

  • In the United States, there are about 421,000 people injured every year in a car crash where distracted driving is a factor.
  • More than half the collisions in the country (around 64%) involve a cellphone.
  • It only takes about three seconds of taking your mind off the road to cause a crash. Some of the most common occurrences are slowing traffic, lane changes, and kids or animals running into the road.
  • Looking at your phone for five seconds while traveling at freeway speeds equals traveling over 500 feet without looking. This is about the length of a football field.
  • Even though 94% of teen drivers understand the consequences of texting and driving, more than a third admit that they still do it.
  • One quarter of polled teenagers respond to at least one text behind the wheel, every time.
  • More than 1600 children die every year in car crashes involving texters.
  • During texting, drivers leave their lane 10% of the time.
  • Teen driving schools are all taking a focus on teaching better about texting and driving. Every day, there are 11 teenage drivers who die because of texting and driving. This is just the drivers, this doesn’t even account for pedestrians and passengers who are in the vehicles involved in these incidents.

What Can You Do?

This is a big problem that is catching a lot of attention with teen driving schools and law enforcement across the nation. Campaigns are run from many organizations and schools, but the best way to stop texting and driving is for individuals to step up. But what can you do, as a teen driver, to help?

  • Make yourself a promise. Decide that you are not going to text and drive, then stay true to that decision.
  • Speak Up. If you are riding in a car, make sure you say something if the driver reaches for their phone- even if the driver is your parent. Not only can it save your life, it can save everyone else around you too.
  • Come up with an alternative plan. Instead of responding to a text, hand it to a passenger to handle, pull off the road, or just wait until you get to your destination to respond. Knowing what you’ll do before it happens keeps you focused.
  • Set an example. Whether it’s to the passengers in your car or the drivers around you, set an example by putting your phone away. Resist the urge to reach for it when a message comes in.

These may seem like small things, but each of these small acts add up to make a big difference. Commit to keeping the roads safe by not texting and driving and you might just save a life, including your own.

The Importance of Commentary Driving

“Turn right, here! Take a left there! Watch your speed! Have you checked your mirrors?…” These phrases may be all but familiar utterances you may have been guilty of saying while out on your teen’s driving lessons.

It’s an odd phenomenon when we feel at risk to resort to backseat driving. Backseat driving may be a way for us to vent our concerns and uneasiness, but it also frustrates and intimidates a young driver.  Having someone else talk while on the driving lesson can also distract your young driver.

Backseat driving is rarely beneficial, even for experienced drivers.

Learning to drive can be an exciting time for your student. It can also be nerve-wracking and cause frustration for both yourself and your student.

Barking commands and emphasizing mistakes made will only heighten the tension, frustration and anxiety of your driver.

What is the Commentary Driving Technique?

Instead of making your student nervous and second-guessing themselves, and therefore undermining their good driving skills, try the commentary driving technique.

With the commentary driving technique, the student makes comments about the approaching traffic situation. They also point out observations such as how fast they are going and saying what they see in their car’s mirrors. With this kind of driver’s education, the student must learn to scan the environment and make decisions based on what the approaching situation is.

Students are to make their comments before getting into a situation and making a preemptive decision. These comments don’t have to be complete sentences. They can be short phrases.

These short sentences or phrases, however, need to be specific. For instance, they can say things like “There is an intersection ahead. The light is green. The car in front is slowing down. I’m going 25 mph, under the speed limit. I am slowing down, ready to stop if needed. Check mirrors. The car behind is also slowing down. Two cars ahead are turning left. May need to change lanes.”

When your student fails to comment on an important sign or significant situation, question them as to why they didn’t say anything, what they were think about the situation and how they could have handled the situation better.

After the driving lesson, discuss with your student the things they did well and ask them how they would have improved their skills and made better decisions for the mistakes they made during the driving lesson. Students can also write their thoughts down, explaining why they made the decisions they did and in what ways they can better their driving skills.

Why is the Commentary Driving Technique Important?

Commentary driving is a more constructive driver’s education technique that provides more benefits than the traditional commands and backseat driving techniques that parents are used to.

Here are some reasons that make commentary driving important:

  • It helps students learn to scan their surroundings.
  • It forces students to mentally think about what they need to do in upcoming situations.
  • It reassures parents that the student is observing and looking out for potential hazards, anticipating upcoming situations and making pre-planned decisions.
  • It gives students more confidence in themselves and their driving skills and abilities.
  • It empowers students by encouraging dialogue and self-assessment.
  • It limits distractions of the driver as it should only be the driver making comments doing the talking.

As your student progresses, you can take the commentary driving technique up a notch by introducing remarks and conversations about common distractions, traffic and road conditions on a given route.

The more on-the-road drive time your student gets, the better prepared they will be in passing their driving test and getting their license. Make these lessons enjoyable and productive. The best way to do that is through the commentary driving technique.

For your student to begin on-the-road driving lessons, he or she must be first enrolled in a driver’s education course at a certified, state recognized driving school.

For more information about safe driving courses, contact 9-1-1 Driving School.

Parenting Tips on How to Practice With Your New Driver

It seemed like in a matter of a blink your child is now a new driver. You’ve been preparing for this big milestone in your child’s life. Still, it seemed to have come too fast.

You’re excited for your child, but you’re also worried. Teen drivers get in more accidents than any other group. You want your son or daughter to be safe. How do you teach them to be good, safe drivers?

The most effective answer is practice. The more on-the-road driving experience your student has, the quicker they will learn and the more confidence they will build.

Every state requires driver’s education students to attend a certified driving school that incorporates mandatory classroom and on-the-road driving hours.

In addition, most states require students to have a certain number of driving hours at home, outside of the driving school.

This is where you, as the parent come in.

Teen drivers are inexperienced and often lack driving confidence. Be patient when riding with your son or daughter and continually encourage them.

In many instances, the learning doesn’t begin and end in the car. Talk to your child before the practice drive and afterwards. Try to limit the amount of talking during the actual driving.

Before the Driving Session

Map out a route and show the route to your child. When mapping out routes, keep in mind your child’s driving experience. Avoid busy, major streets. Instead, stay on quiet, less congested side streets.

Just as having a delegated route, pick a couple, specific road skills to focus on during each practice drive.

Tell your driver to leave their cell phone at home.

Make sure the student has properly adjusted both side mirrors and the rearview mirror.

Having a route will give both you and your new driver peace of mind. It will eliminate you having to come up with a route on the fly, which can involve the sudden “turn here” commands.

Instead, you can try “commentary driving” technique where your student calls out things as they see them. This technique enhances the new driver’s peripheral vision and can give you some peace of mind knowing that your son or daughter is alert and aware.

Remind yourself to be patient and calm. Avoid raising your voice, scolding or talking down to your student while on the road.

During the Driving Session

Start the driving sessions short, gradually increasing their lengths as your driver gets more comfortable and confident. The first few driving sessions should be between 15 and 20 minutes.

Teen drivers are nervous and can get distracted easily. Avoid excessive talking to your student while he or she is driving. You want them to focus on the road, not on your conversation.

Stick to the route and be sure to give your son or daughter advance warning on where to turn. Sudden shouts of “turn here!” will only add to your child’s stress and lack of confidence.

Gently point out the mistakes your child made and explain why it was wrong. Discussing the mistakes during the drive is more effective than waiting until you get home to share it. When going over these mistakes, have your child pull the car over. You don’t want to be talking while your child is trying to drive.

Be the eyes for your teen driver. Teens have not yet learned to scan ahead nor look around at what is happening around the vehicle. They can’t anticipate or see potential hazards. They are often only focused on what is right in front of them.

Refrain from pushing your own instruction and suggestions if it doesn’t match what your teen driver has been taught in driver’s ed. Doing this will confuse your student.

After the Driving Session

Review the session with your child, highlighting what they did well and repeating the errors that happened.

Ask your son or daughter to provide their own feedback and assessment on their driving. Also, ask your child what he or she learned.

Lead by example. As your teen is now a driver, he or she will be ever more observant of your driving habits. Knowing that your driving skills are under scrutiny, make the added effort to drive like a model driver. You want your child to pick up correct, safe, good driving habits, not bad, risky ones.

As a parent to a new driver, you have a great responsibility and privilege to teach them good driving habits.

If there is a soon-to-be driver in your home, trust their driver’s education to 911 Driving School. Contact us today for more information about our classes and locations.

Tips for Safe Holiday Driving

Millions of Americans take the phrase “there’s no place like home for the holidays” literally. The mass migration of drivers to see friends and family near and far can bring anticipation and excitement. In more times than not, the trek and the traffic can be stressful and anything but peaceful. If you or your family is planning on driving home during the holidays, here are some safe driving tips that will make the journey more enjoyable for everyone.

  1. Pack accordingly. Besides your typical trip essentials, be sure to pack your cell phone cords, a paper map (yes, they still do exist), extra change for toll roads, and plenty of water and snacks (especially if you have kids in tow.)
  2. Make sure the car is ready to go. While breaking down along the Interstate in pouring rain may make for a funny, memorable story in the future, it can easily take away the joy and relaxation of the holidays in the moment. Avoid these unexpected breakdowns by having a mechanic look over the tires, breaks, engine and windshield wipers before the trip.
  3. Avoid peak travel times. The day before Thanksgiving (Wednesday) and the Sunday following Thanksgiving, for instance are the busiest travel days. To avoid traffic, consider taking a couple extra vacation days and leave on the Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving instead and coming back on the Monday following Thanksgiving.
  4. Get plenty of rest. Hours on the road may not seem like a hard, strenuous activity, but it requires constant attention and alertness. You’re more likely to have an incident when you’re deprived of sleep and your judgment is impaired. If you’re driving long distances, regularly stop to stretch your legs and get fresh air to help you stay awake.
  5. Remain calm. It’s easier to say than to be calm during a holiday traffic jam, but taking deep breaths and resisting the urge to drive like a mad-man will make the drive more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s also easier to stay calm when you don’t overbook your holiday schedule and feel pressured to get everywhere as fast as you can.
  6. Avoid distracted driving. Talking on the phone and texting are quickly becoming one of the biggest causes of traffic incidents. Driving, especially long distances and in unfamiliar areas require careful, undivided attention always. If you need to make a phone call, send a text, look something up on the Internet or simply eat, pull off the road.
  7. Keep a safe following distance. If you’re lucky enough to travel in the day and in good weather, a 3 second gap between your car and the one in front of it is recommended. In rain or snow, this three second following distance should be at least doubled. If someone is tailgating you, pull over and let them pass.
  8. Take an alternate way home. Instead of going home the same old boring way, why not switch it up a little? Try side roads instead of the Interstate. A change of scenery can be relaxing and prettier to look at. You may even get around traffic.
  9. Avoid driving impaired. Alcohol is a hallmark of holiday parties, dinners and celebrations. Drinking while intoxicated slows your reaction time and impairs your judgement. It can also lead to fatigue while driving. Every year, impaired drivers are responsible for fatal auto accidents. If you do drink, drink in moderation or have a designated driver.

Don’t let your anxiety of driving dampen the excitement of spending time with friends and family this holiday season. If you would like to improve your overall skills behind the wheel, contact 911 Driving School today.

911 Driving School Hits Headlines

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911 Driving School is best known for its driver services, where they inspire, educate, engage and motivate drivers of all ages to put safety first behind the wheel.

Recently, 911 was featured in PoliceOne, an online publication serving current and former police, to tell the story of 911 franchisee Jeff Westover who is positively influencing his community in Pierce County, Washington.

“It is rewarding. You are willing to give your life for another person as a cop. In this situation, you get to save lives and don’t have to risk yours doing it, ” he said in the article. “We’re beating those national averages. We have lower fatality rates, lower ticket counts than other driving schools here. (Instructors) are out in the community making a positive difference. They are providing a service that truly will save someone’s life.”

Click here to read the full article in PoliceOne.

To learn more about 911 Driving Schools’ franchise opportunities, visit https://911drivingschool.com/franchise/.

Keep Drivers and the Public Safe on Halloween with these Driving Tips

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The scariest part of Halloween isn’t the costumes, haunted houses or movies. It’s a day when, on average, twice as many child pedestrians are killed to other days of the year.

In order to combat the perpetuation of these statistics, 911 Driving School, which provides defensive driving courses and drivers education classes for adults and teens, has put together a list of driver safety tips for Halloween:

  • Children and adults alike wear dark costumes, and the days are getting shorter. Chances are good that you’ll see people out and about – practice defensive driving when behind the wheel, and always drive very slowly in residential areas, observing traffic laws, school zones and speed limits and taking special care to look around before turning.
  • Always use your turn signals, even if you’re in your own neighborhood or close to home. People may be difficult to spot in costume; expect the unexpected.
  • Decorations can be a distraction – keep your eyes open for large objects such as pumpkins in the road and flashing lights.
  • Check your city’s posted times for trick-or-treating, and avoid driving during these times if possible.

For more information on these and other driving tips, or to sign up for safe driving classes in your area, click here.

Child Passenger Safety Week is Approaching – Check Your Car to Prevent a Tragedy

Child Passenger Safety Week

Quickly approaching, Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 18-24) and National Seat Check Saturday (Sept. 24) are the perfect time to refresh yourself on the newest safety rules for driving in cars with children.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the 1-13 age group, and the majority of these deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. One of the most important things to remember: weight restrictions are important to child car safety.

Each car seat has its own weight limits, and kids need different seats for different stages of life. From birth until they exceed the weight limit for a booster seat and can safely ride without one, make sure that children are properly protected. After all, car seats reduce the risk of kids being killed in cars by up to 71 percent.

Always refer to your car seat manufacturer’s guidelines as well as federal laws for the most up-to-date information on weight limits – it’s worth a few minutes of research to make sure the kids are safe.

At 911 Driving School, students learn the importance of these critical safety rules – find a location near you here.

Child Passenger Safety Week is Approaching – Check Your Car to Prevent a Tragedy

Child Passenger Safety Week

Quickly approaching, Child Passenger Safety Week (Sept. 18-24) and National Seat Check Saturday (Sept. 24) are the perfect time to refresh yourself on the newest safety rules for driving in cars with children.

Car crashes are a leading cause of death in the 1-13 age group, and the majority of these deaths and injuries can be prevented by the proper use of car seats, boosters and seat belts. One of the most important things to remember: weight restrictions are important to child car safety.

Each car seat has its own weight limits, and kids need different seats for different stages of life. From birth until they exceed the weight limit for a booster seat and can safely ride without one, make sure that children are properly protected. After all, car seats reduce the risk of kids being killed in cars by up to 71 percent.

Always refer to your car seat manufacturer’s guidelines as well as federal laws for the most up-to-date information on weight limits – it’s worth a few minutes of research to make sure the kids are safe.

At 911 Driving School, students learn the importance of these critical safety rules – find a location near you here.