Blind spot risk and reduction

Blind spot risk and reduction

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule of thumb to use is, “Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.” In other words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, quick turns without signaling, swerving, tailgating and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone like this — and it pays to be ready when you do.

 

It’s impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you’re pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has its turn signal on, don’t assume it’s actually turning. You might pull out only to find that turn signal has been blinking since 1987. If you’re approaching an intersection where you have the right of way, and another approaching car has the stop sign, don’t assume it will actually stop. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to brake.

Advice for Drivers During a Traffic Stop

Advice for Drivers During a Traffic Stop

We queried a few law enforcement agencies (sheriff, police, highway patrol) for their advice for drivers who are being pulled over for a traffic ticket.

 

The Pasco County (FL) Sheriff’s Office created a 2-minute video to share with us and our readers. (A list is included at the end of the video.)


 

 

A Tweeter, @SuperHerosWife, also responded to the conversation with the advice “not to argue, that’s what traffic court is for.” We think that’s good advice. You may have heard, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar,” which means you get what you want more often when you’re nice or have a positive attitude. It applies in a traffic stop, also. An officer isn’t going to change his/her mind because you argued or raised your voice to them. You’re elevating the adrenaline on both sides of the car door. You might drive away with additional tickets for other things the deputy noticed you had done on the road, or worse, you might get arrested. Accepting responsibility, apologizing, or being understanding of the sergeant’s viewpoint might make the officer feel like giving you a warning instead.

A Little Driving Music

A Little Driving Music

 

 

Music & Driving

While my heart loves to hear “On the Road Again” by Willie Nelson, studies show that “On the Road Again” by Canned Heat is a better option for me while driving.

 

A limited-participant study in 2013 by London Metropolitan University concluded the “optimum tempo of a song for safe driving, mimic[s] the human heartbeat at around 60 to 80 beats per minute.” (Source)

 

That’s kind of obvious… Sammy Hagar’s tune, “I Can’t Drive 55” scores 136 beats-per-minute and I’m showing my age here. For you youngsters: from the soundtrack of The Fast & Furious movies, “Tokyo Drift” by Teriyaki Boyz speeds things up at 127 BPM and “Extreme Ways” by Moby from the Jason Bourne soundtrack races by at 130 BPM.

 

Now, I enjoy “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” by Aerosmith, but I need more than just a short list of songs to choose from when I drive if I’m going to make better choices. A list of best and worst pre-2014 songs for driving included these hits:

driving songs 1safedriver

 

Look up your favorite tunes at https://www.bpmdatabase.com/ or https://jog.fm/ and see how they rate on beats per minute, then share your favorite defensive driving songs here or on Twitter and help us update our playlists!

 

 

Coming soon: optimal music volume for safe driving and tech tools to help you enjoy your music without taking your eyes from the road!

Two Things to Know About Texas Holidays

Two Things to Know About Texas Holidays

 

 

Holiday travel season is in full swing! If the beautiful state of Texas is in your travel plans, then we’ve got 2 items for your attention (Naughty and Nice):

1. Naughty: DPS Launches Enhanced Traffic Enforcement for Holidays

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is urging drivers to help make the holidays safer by driving sober and using extra caution. In an effort to protect travelers on the roadways, DPS Troopers, as well as local law enforcement across the state, will conduct traffic patrols throughout the holiday weekends of Dec. 23 – 26 and Dec. 31 – Jan. 1, looking for drunk drivers, speeders, seat belt violators and other dangerous drivers.

“Impaired driving or reckless behavior on the road can turn holiday celebrations into tragedies, and these DPS patrols are designed to help save lives by identifying drivers who disregard the law and endanger others,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “By always driving sober, obeying traffic laws, and slowing down or moving over a lane when vehicles are stopped on the side of the road, Texans can help make our roads safer for everyone.”

During the eight-day Christmas/New Year holiday enforcement effort last year, DPS troopers made 466 DWI arrests. DPS enforcement efforts also resulted in 9,174 speeding citations, 893 seat belt/child safety seat citations, 320 fugitive arrests and 286 felony arrests during the enforcement period.
Source: Texas Department of Public Transportation

2. Nice: ENJOY TEXAS-STYLE HOLIDAYS

Texas Holiday Parades: The HEB Holiday Parade in Houston, El Paso’s FirstLight Federal Credit Union Sun Bowl Parade, and the Holiday River Parade & Lighting Ceremony along the River Walk in San Antonio.

Texas-sized Holiday Light Displays: The 52nd annual Austin Trail of Lights, the Houston Zoo Lights, Santa’s Wonderland in College Station, the Gift of Lights at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and the San Antonio Christmas Lights Fest.

One-Of-A-Kind Texas Celebrations: The Dallas Arboretum and The Trains at NorthPark; in Grapevine, the Christmas Wine Train; Christmas in the Stockyards in Fort Worth.

Texas Holiday on the Beach: Galveston’s A Caribbean Christmas at Moody Gardens; “Surf with Santa” at Schlitterbahn Waterpark; Galveston Island’s Holiday Splash.

Mexican Christmas Fiestas: San Antonio River Walk for Ford Fiesta De Las Luminarias; in El Paso, the Annual Posadas Celebration and Luminaria Lighting Festival.

Texas New Year Hoedowns: In Fort Worth for New Year’s Eve at Billy Bob’s Texas; Celebrate San Antonio New Year’s Eve celebration; the Children’s Museum of Houston annual Rockin’ New Year’s Noon Bash.
Source: Travel Texas

“Drowsy Driving” Another Form of Distracted Driving

“Drowsy Driving” Another Form of Distracted Driving

 

So you’ve headed all the warnings about distracted driving. You’ve put away your cell phone, ignored the radio dial, ate before you got in the car, and asked all your passengers to simmer down.

 

You are ready to be the safest driver you can be…right?

 

Well, the answer may hinge on one seemingly silly question. Are you getting enough sleep?

 

That’s right. If you are over tired, all the distracted driving precautions in the world won’t be able to help you keep your eyes on the road.

 

Sleep deprived driving, also known as drowsy driving is becoming a major problem on U.S. roads and highways. The National Traffic Safety Administration estimates that more than 60% of adults reported driving while drowsy in the last year and one in six fatal crashes involves a drowsy driver. What’s more, research has shown that drowsy driving can be just as dangerous as drunk driving.

How Car Companies Are Using Technology To Help Prevent Distracted Driving

How Car Companies Are Using Technology To Help Prevent Distracted Driving

 

It has been almost one full year since a school bus driver in Tennessee, James Davenport, was texting while driving when he swerved onto the other side of the highway and crashed into a second school bus. The school bus that James Davenport was operating was occupied by numerous children that he was responsible for driving home after they had just gotten out of school. This distracted driving school bus collision ended up claiming the lives of a 7 year old student, 6 year old student, 46 year old teacher’s aide, and the school bus driver, James Davenport.

 

A couple weeks ago the investigations into the accident concluded and highlighted the alarming, and horrible toll distracted driving can take on us and our children. It is obvious that technology is playing a huge role in this distracted driving lethal epidemic we are facing, but it is also true that there are a number of different ways new technology based apps and gadgets can be vital in cutting down and hopefully eventually ending this epidemic.

 

As the demand for new and exciting technology in vehicles continues to increase, automakers have begun to identify the impact need to deliver these new technology features that allow drivers too safely interact with incoming text messages and calls, without the need of having to touch or look at their phones while doing so.

 

For example, Ford’s SYNC operating system reads incoming text messages aloud and sends text messages dictated by the driver. It also has the MyKey feature, allowing parents the ability to block calls and texts when teens are driving.

 

It is being reported that General Motors (GM) is developing eye-tracking technology that can sense when drivers look away at a text message.

 

BMW unveiled plans for gesture controls that will allow drivers to point at the vehicle’s navigation screen to receive an incoming text or call.

 

Recognizing the unlikelihood that drivers will break the habit of glancing down at their phones anytime soon, car-makers are increasingly adapting vehicles with new technologies that lie within drivers’ field of vision and don’t take their focus off the road.

 

These anti-distraction technologies have come in reaction to growing statistics that confirm distracted driving is a major cause of injuries and fatalities — and that young people are primarily vulnerable to the risks and dangers of all the distracted driving behavior resulting from new technology. Risks for car crashes quadruple when the driver is using a phone, and phone use is the second leading cause for teen crashes.

 

Because companies want more millennials to buy vehicles, connected features like touch screens, apps and Bluetooth that these consumers often seek are becoming the norm in most lower-end cars. These features also help reduce the cognitive load on drivers, thereby mitigating risk for distraction.

Smartphone Safety While Driving

Smartphone Safety While Driving

 

Smartphones are Here to Stay

 

In today’s world of technological advancements, products previously seen as futuristic have become commonplace. Where diners, drive-ins, and sock hops were once regular weekend activities it’s now become standard for teens to have smartphones, communicate through text messages, and constantly stay connected to everything and everyone through Social Media.

 

A study conducted by the Pew Research Center shows just how much of an upward trajectory smartphone ownership is on. In May of 2011, 35% of Americans owned smartphones. Just two years later, in May of 2013, that number rose to 56%. By 2017 smartphone ownership in the US is projected to balloon to 75%.

 

Such new technologies are overwhelmingly positive additions to our world. Smartphones are designed to make life easier and more enjoyable, but like many other new developments there are drawbacks. It’s important for parents to have a complete understanding of the potential issues presented by these new devices and know how they can work to prevent any problems from occurring.

 

Facts About Texting While Driving

 

The evolution from child to teen is arguably the most significant transition humans make, and it all happens in a relatively short period of time. An increase in responsibilities is one of the many changes that occur, and perhaps the biggest responsibility we receive is the privilege to drive.

 

According to this infographic on teen driving safety, every day seven teens die in a car accident. Our youth tends to have the mindset that “It won’t happen to me”. Well, it can, and if the rules of the road are not abided by, there’s a great chance something bad will happen. Most people don’t realize that texting while driving is significantly more dangerous than drunk driving. A study conducted by Car and Driver Magazine concluded the following on driver’s reaction times to stopping:

 

No distractions: 0.54 seconds to brake

Legally drunk: Add 4 feet to brake

Reading: Add 36 feet to brake

Typing: Add 70 feet to brake

 

How Can We Prevent It?

 

Texting while driving is extremely dangerous, and while our youth does have that knowledge, they seem to ignore the facts. According to a poll conducted by AAA, 94% of teens said texting while driving is a serious danger, but 35% of those respondents still admitted to doing it. They know it’s dangerous, yet they still do it, so how can we stop it? Technology! Here are some apps that can be downloaded onto your teen’s smartphone that are designed to help keep them from texting while driving:

 

AT&T DriveMode – Available on Android and Blackberry

Textecution – Available on Android only

Drivesafe.ly – Available on iPhone, Android, Windows, and Blackberry

 

Ask your teen for help if needed, but installing these apps is one way to help keep your teen safe on the road.

Parking Lot Safety: What New Drivers Need to Know

Parking Lot Safety: What New Drivers Need to Know

 

Driving in a parking lot doesn’t seem like it should be that hard. After all, cars go slowly, the lanes are clearly marked, and there aren’t a lot of driving rules or traffic controls to worry about. But in fact, parking lot crashes account for 14% of all insurance claims, and some research suggests that as many as one in five crashes occurs in a parking lot! So unless you’re someone who spends more than 20% of your driving time in lots, you’re statistically more likely to get into a collision there than pretty much anywhere else on the road.

Ironically, it may be the very fact that drivers think parking lots are safe places that makes them so dangerous in the first place! For instance, in parking lots, drivers are more likely to ignore lane markings and traffic signs because they think they don’t have the same force of law. It’s important to remember, however, that the main reason to obey traffic signs isn’t because you can get a ticket if you don’t—it’s because those signs were put there to help drivers proceed safely, and when you ignore them, you’re more likely to cause a crash.

Another factor to keep in mind is the fact that parking lots are some of the only places where drivers and pedestrians share the same area of the roadway. A pedestrian who emerges suddenly from between a pair of cars can cause an unprepared driver to react in a panic and crash—an outcome that can be particularly dangerous for the pedestrian. Indeed, studies suggest that over 20% of vehicle-pedestrian collisions occur in parking lots, and that approximately 20% of these collisions result in an incapacitating injury. Occasionally, pedestrians are even killed in parking lot crashes, with children and people at work being the most at risk.

It’s true that, because of drivers’ low speeds, parking lot crashes are rarely so serious. Nevertheless, these statistics demonstrate that this is a problem you have to take seriously. Even when no one is hurt, parking lot crashes can be inconvenient and costly, especially if your insurance rates go up as a result. That’s why some states are starting to require that drivers ed classes include greater coverage of parking lot safety, and why we’ve put together this brief guide to help you get in and out of parking lots as safely as possible.

 

How to Drive Safely in Parking Lots

Although parking in a lot is typically less complicated than it is on the street because the spaces are designed to be easy to enter and exit, parking lots present their own unique risks to drivers. For instance, because the driving lanes are narrow and the driving area is shared by pedestrians, you must go slow, be alert, and always signal your intentions when you’re parking in a lot.

In parking lots, drivers tend to focus their attention on looking for a parking spot, rather than on driving safely. A driver who’s craning his head looking for an open space may fail to notice a pedestrian in front of him or a vehicle approaching from the other side. Moreover, someone parked between two cars may have a hard time seeing if another vehicle is approaching when they back up, which can be especially dangerous if that other driver cares more about finding a spot than driving safely.

By paying attention, driving defensively, and following the law, you’re much less likely to get into a crash. In order to protect yourself and others in a parking lot, you should:

  • Enter your space by backing up whenever possible so that you’ll have an easier time when you leave the space.
  • Drive in the center of your lane and park in the center of your space to make it easier for other people to see you and navigate the lot.
  • Only park in a space if you’re sure you have enough room. Then pull your vehicle into the space as far as possible so that it will be easier for drivers and pedestrians to move through the lot.
  • Be careful opening your door as you exit your car to avoid denting the side of the car next to you.
  • Be aware of location of the lot’s entrances and exits and any no parking zones in the lot. Try to avoid parking near the entrance of the lot, as these areas are often more congested and you’ll have more drivers and pedestrians to deal with as you leave the space.
  • Watch out for signs indicating special rules that govern driving or parking in the lot. Stop signs are often posted in parking lots at the end of every lane. At uncontrolled intersections in the lot, follow the standard right-of-way rules. Stop and proceed only when it is safe.
  • Make sure you’re not going the wrong way by watching for arrows on the pavement indicating the designated direction for each lane. Many parking lot lanes are narrow and restricted to a single direction of traffic.
  • Stay out of spaces where the wheelchair logo is displayed on a sign or pavement marking, as well the striped areas next to them. Only drivers with a disabled parking placard or license plate may park in a designated handicapped space.
  • Check the front of the space before you park to see if any other restrictions are indicated. Some parking spots may be designated as “Narrow,” “Reserved,” etc.

 

Back-to-School Driver Safety Basics

Back-to-School Driver Safety Basics

 

Summer is winding down, which means the end of lazy, worry-free days by the pool and the beginning of another hectic school year. With this change of seasons and routines also comes a drastic change in driving patterns on the road, and things can get a little crazy if you don’t know what to look for.

 

Whether you’re a parent, a newly licensed student, or just another driver on the road, here are some important things to keep in mind in these next couple months.

Watch Out for Pedestrians

 

The beginning of a school year means more buses and bicycles on the road and more kids potentially walking to class, especially if you live in a residential area close to a school. According to the National Center for Safe Routes to School, more children are hit by cars near school than at any other location. Keep an eye out for any kids on the sidewalk, buses stopped by the side of the road, or any other indications that kids are afoot – even the smartest tykes may dart in and out of busy streets and potentially endanger their lives.

 

Don’t stop in the middle of crosswalks – blocking them may entice youngsters and other pedestrians to go around your vehicle, increasing the chances that they’ll be hit by traffic.

Never pass a car that looks like it’s stopped for pedestrians.

Slow down appropriately when you’re in a school zone, and especially when kids are present.

 

Remember, in most states, it’s illegal to pass a stopped school bus. Don’t risk passing a bus just to shave a few seconds off your commute – the consequences can be expensive and deadly.

Be Wary of New Drivers

 

A new school year brings a surge of newly-licensed teen drivers and fresh-faced, inexperienced college students with only a couple years of driving under their belt. According to the National Safety Council, teen crashes spike in September and happen more commonly in the mornings and afternoons, when school begins and ends.

 

If you’re a parent dropping off your kids at high school, keep on high alert for new teen drivers. Give them the space to figure out their driving skills. Even if they’ve shown exemplary skills in driver training classes, they typically don’t have the skills that come primarily from experience, such as gauging gaps in traffic, reading the general flow of traffic on roads, and having situational awareness while driving in congested areas. Give these kids all the space necessary so both of you can be comfortable driving safely.

 

If you’re a new driver given the freedom to commute to school every day, don’t take this responsibility lightly and follow these guidelines:

 

Stow your smartphone and any other distractions away. Throw them in the back seat if you have to.

Don’t carry passengers such as friends and siblings until you’re truly comfortable behind the wheel. According to AAA, having even one young passenger can increase a teen driver’s crash risk by 44%.

Wear your seat belt. It’s not only the law in most places, but it can also save your life.

 

Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens in the United States – all it takes is a little patience and focus to ensure you won’t become a part of that statistic.

Get Ready for More Traffic – Everywhere

 

While we normally associate the beginning of the school year with more traffic around schools, it’s also important to highlight the surge of traffic on freeways and roads as well. In September, commute times on freeways typically increase due to numerous factors, including commuter students heading to college and parents dropping off their children at schools at the same time of the day.

 

Account for this increased travel time and be more wary of traffic conditions. Freeway exits for colleges may cause traffic in the right lane to suddenly come to a halt, a perfect formula for an inconvenient fender bender or pile-up. More college students on the road also means more inexperienced drivers as well; be an example for them by maintaining a safe distance, using your turn signals properly, and obeying proper defensive driving etiquette.

 

Going back to school can be a drag for students and a godsend for parents sick of their kids, but a traffic collision or incident can be exponentially worse. Put your driver’s education to good use and drive safely on the road – and good luck to another school year!

Are you practicing safe and defensive driving?

Are you practicing safe and defensive driving?

When asked, most people will say that they feel they are safe drivers, however, when asked do you practice safe and defensive driving, they usually will just stare at you. The fact is, the majority of the drivers on the road today do not even know or understand what defensive driving is all about. Do you know what defensive driving is?

Defensive driving is a set of driving skills that will allow you to defend yourself against possible adverse situations while driving. These skills can help you in situations such as bad weather and auto accidents. The concept of defensive driving involves you being alert, looking ahead, and spotting potential hazardous situations before they become deadly. When you are alert and paying attention to what is going on around you, you can potentially avoid danger by adjusting your driving accordingly.

The basics of defensive driving include planning ahead for the unexpected, controlling your speed, reaction to other drivers, respect for the roadway, and being alert at all times. Here are a few things you should think about in regards to practicing safe and defensive driving:

Plan ahead for the unexpected – it is impossible to know when you will be faced with an adverse situation while driving, however, if you are prepared in advance, you have a better chance of handling the situation properly. There are many defensive driving courses available that will give you the necessary tools in helping you become prepared for that dangerous situation.

Control your speed – controlling your speed is more than just obeying the speed limits. It is understanding your vehicle’s stopping distance, understanding when to make speed adjustments in different situations, and knowing and being aware of reaction distance. These are all necessary for defensive driving.

React to other drivers – you can never anticipate what another driver will do, therefore, you must be able to react to another driver when needed. Again this involves scanning the roadway ahead and being able to adapt to your surroundings. You do not know if that other vehicle will stay stopped, if they will stop, or if they will stay in their lane. Be ready and aware at all times!

Respect the road and other drivers – respecting the roadway and other drivers is more than just sharing the road and keeping your road rage in check, it is about being prepared and courtesy to all on the road.

Be alert at all times – there are a numbers of reasons for accidents and deaths on the roadway – driving drunk, driving tired, talking on the phone, texting, and so many more. You cannot be alert and practice safe and defensive driving if you are doing any of the above. Your number one priority when you get behind the wheel – drive alert – pay attention to the task at hand.

If after reading the information above, you can honestly say you follow all of these, then congratulations – you are a safe and defensive driver. If you have even just one area listed above, which you do not follow – it is time to sharpen up your defensive driving skills! Be safe.