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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.

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

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.

 

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.

Google’s Latest Self-Driving Cars Hit the Public Streets

Google’s Latest Self-Driving Cars Hit the Public Streets

 

Google’s self-driving car project has just reached another noteworthy milestone. This summer, the company’s latest prototype vehicles will hit the road in Mountain View, California for testing under real-world conditions. The cars require no human input while driving, though all will be tested with a safety driver aboard.

 

The adorable new iteration of the Google self-driver looks a bit like a koala’s head on wheels. Each has a top speed of just 25 MPH, and operates by means of a pre-loaded street map data and a complex network of sensors to detect other vehicles, pedestrians and other road hazards. The cars have a removable steering wheel, accelerator and brake pedal in case its operator needs to take over the controls manually.

 

There’s a lot of excitement surrounding self-driving cars. The technology has the possibility to significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents on the road by removing the problem of human error. A recent report revealed that human operators were responsible for the only accidents involving Google’s cars over the last 6 years and 1.7 million driving miles. Self-driving cars would also be a huge accessibility benefit to those who are legally blind, and could reduce traffic congestion by driving in more efficient patterns than humans do.

 

There’s no set public launch date for self-driving Google Cars, though many expect the tech to be ready by the end of the decade. Google Cars will be primarily used for taxi-like functions, and may not necessarily be sold direct to the public. Other car companies are working on self-driving tech for consumer vehicles, including Nissan and Tesla. Both expect the tech to be available in their cars by 2020.

 

If you want to learn more about this amazing technology, you can read up over on the Official Google Blog. Google has also just released a new video showcasing its cars; we’ve embedded it below so you can check it out as well.

Car Thieves Hack Remote Keyless Entry Systems with $17 Device

Car Thieves Hack Remote Keyless Entry Systems with $17 Device

 

When I visited Los Angeles this week, I was fortunate enough to rent a brand new Toyota Prius. It’s a great car – not only does the hybrid sip gas, but it also comes with remote keyless entry standard. It’s pretty cool tech: So long as the keyfob is within a couple feet of the car, you can walk up and open the door and once inside the car start it by simply pressing a button. You never need to touch the fob.

 

Unfortunately, it appears that remote keyless entry also gives knowing thieves easy access to your car and the belongings inside it. The New York Times is reporting that tech-minded criminals are using an inexpensive signal amplifier device to break into locked Priuses, Mazda 3s and similar keyfob-entry vehicles in Los Angeles and other cities around the world.

 

Normally, if your Smart Key keyfob is within 3 feet or so of your car, it will be able to read a signal from the vehicle and send a reply, leading the vehicle to unlock itself. The device being used by criminals amplifies your car’s ability to search for keyfobs, dramatically extending its automatic unlocking range past 300 feet. That means if you park your car on the street outside your house or in your driveway, someone could walk up with one of these tiny boxes and unlock it, all while your keys sit on your kitchen table.

 

“It’s a bit like a loudspeaker, so when you say hello over it, people who are 100 meters away can hear the word, ‘hello,’” explains wireless device security researcher Boris Daney. “You can buy these devices anywhere for under $100.” The Times was able to find one online for just $17.

 

Car manufacturers are reportedly looking into a fix to the car hacking problem, which would require a chip to be installed for the car to determine exactly how far away your keyfob really is. In the meantime, police are warning owners of keyless entry cars to be extra vigilant with their vehicles. “Using a locked garage is recommended and any spare keys for (these vehicles) should be secured in a safe location,” the Toronto police urged earlier this month.

 

And if you don’t have a locked garage? According to Danev, you’ll want to store your keyfob in your freezer. Seriously: It acts as an electromagnetically shielded Faraday cage that won’t let signals in or out. You can also store your keys in a small Faraday bag – they’re available for purchase on Amazon for $7.95 each.

Tech that Makes Your Old Car Feel New

Tech that Makes Your Old Car Feel New

 

What draws buyers to new cars isn’t necessarily the latest colors and styles — more often than not, it’s the latest technology. The average car on the road today is over 11 years old, which means it pre-dates a first-generation iPhone by 3 years, making it a technological dinosaur. While these older vehicles will still have modern conveniences like electric windows and anti-lock brakes, with the high-tech options in brand-new vehicles, an older car can feel rather behind the times. After all, we’re used to upgrading our smartphones every couple of years — and with the amount of tech we carry in our pockets, our aging cars definitely feel out of date.

 

But even though 90% of Americans don’t plan on buying a new car this year, they don’t need to be locked out of the latest tech. According to a Consumer Electronics Association study, owners of older vehicles can have access to most of the latest tech at a price that’s rather less than a new car. All you have to do is pick out what your car needs and speak to a retailer with an MECP (Mobile Electronics Certified Professionals) certification — and with 3,500 in the United States, there’s probably one in easy driving distance.

 

Just what can you get in your car? The CEA breaks down the most popular high-tech features into these categories:

 

Safety & Driver Distraction Elimination: You can install systems that remind you to stay in your lane and add voice commands and hands-free calling through your car stereo

Smartphone Integration & Entertainment: In addition to hands-free calling, you can stream music service, view and get guidance from Google Maps in your dash and much more.

Enhanced Audio: With better speakers and a more powerful amp, you can boost the sound quality in your car without replacing your car stereo.

Remote Starting and Diagnostics: Start your car from a distance with the press of a button, get feedback on your driving style (great for getting insurance rebates) and find out what that check engine light means.

 

So if having a more high-tech vehicle is what you want, reach out to your local retailer for specific options, costs, and availability. Many of those new-car features are available for your old car.

Car Bumper Laser Protects Against Rear-end Collisions

Car Bumper Laser Protects Against Rear-end Collisions

We cover a lot of expensive pieces of technology here at 1SafeDriver, from $85,000 televisions to $1,495 HDMI cables. Sometimes, though, the coolest pieces of tech are also incredibly inexpensive. That’s the case with this $11 bumper-mounted laser designed to help prevent rear-end collisions in fog and other limited visibility weather conditions.

 

The laser works by projecting a bright red line on the road behind your vehicle. Even if fog makes it difficult to see your car’s taillights, others will be able to see the moving laser line and be alerted to your presence. The car safety device itself is low-powered enough that it won’t blind other drivers.

 

The laser wires to your car’s electrical system so it only operates when you’re driving. It mounts to your car using screws or a simple 3M adhesive pad (included), letting you decide exactly how far behind your vehicle you want the red line to appear. Generally, you’ll want it set between 15 and 20 feet, though you can push it back even further if the weather is especially bad.

 

The bumper-mounted laser is currently available for sale on banggood.com for $11. Before you buy it, though, you’ll want to check with your local and state law to verify that the device is legal to use where you live. Similar technology is also available for cyclists too.

 

Car Lenders Turn to Remote Disabling Devices for Missed Payments

Car Lenders Turn to Remote Disabling Devices for Missed Payments

If your car fails to start this coming winter, the problem may not be the battery – it could be a missed car payment instead. According to the New York Times, an increasing number of subprime car loan providers are requiring the installation of GPS tracking beacons and starter interrupt devices in the vehicles they finance. If an owner of one of these vehicles misses a payment, the lender can remotely disable the vehicle, making it undrivable until the loan is once again current.

 

For lenders, the new technology is a massive boon. PassTime, a Colorado company that manufactures remote disabling devices, say installations have reduced the rate of late car payments to 7%, down from a high of 29%. This has enabled lenders to be able to offer more car loans, often at extraordinarily high interest rates, to people who may have been turned down for them in the past.

 

Theoretically, this increased access to credit is good for borrowers. In practice, however, remote disabling has proven a nightmare for many. Lenders are not supposed to disable cars unless payments are more than 30 days delinquent, though some customers have reported having their vehicles locked down after only a few days. Others report missing important doctor appointments, an inability to pick up kids and being stranded on the side of the road in unfamiliar neighborhoods.

 

Even those who are current on payments report difficulty dealing with their newly empowered lenders. Many have had vehicles disabled improperly, some maliciously so. Earlier this year, a Texas man who worked for a car dealership was charged with a felony for using a remote disabling system to “prank” drivers.

 

Further, the GPS trackers can be used to create geofences which prohibit vehicles from being taken out of certain areas – say, more than 20 miles from home or work. This can create severe safety issues. One Austin, Texas woman had her car disabled while she was on her way to a shelter to escape her abusive husband. There are big privacy issues too. Some lenders are monitoring if and when vehicles are parked at a work location as a type of “early warning system” for unemployment and missed payments.

Follow These Tips To Avoid Drowsy Driving

Follow These Tips To Avoid Drowsy Driving

Have you ever driven home late at night, only to realize that you don’t actually recall the details of the drive? I have, and as a result vowed years ago to rearrange my travel schedule to avoid driving myself home from the airport in a late-night post-business-travel stupor. The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Projects calls drowsy driving a “pervasive threat to public health and transportation safety.”

 

A study in the Accident Analysis and Prevention Journal showed that being awake for 21 hours can decrease the “ability to maintain speed and road position as serious as having a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent.” It’s no wonder that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports more than 100,000 crashes every year are caused by drowsy drivers.

The Healthy Sleep Awareness Project has recently launched Awake at the Wheel, an initiative aimed at educating drivers on the dangers of driving drowsy. The experts behind the initiative go a few steps beyond simply preaching; here are some warning signs and tips to help you avoid driving drowsy:

Drowsy Driving Warning Signs

  • You keep yawning.
  • You are unable to keep your eyes open.
  • You catch yourself “nodding off” and have trouble keeping your head up.
  • You can’t remember driving the last few miles.
  • You end up too close to cars in front of you.
  • You miss road signs or drive past your turn.
  • You drift into the other lane of traffic.
  • You drift onto the “rumble strip” or the road’s shoulder.

Drowsy Driving Prevention

“Rolling down the windows or turning up the volume on the radio will do little to increase your alertness while driving,” according to the National Healthy Sleep Project. Here are some more effective ways to avoid drowsy driving:

  • Get a full night of seven to nine hours of sleep before driving.
  • Avoid driving late at night.
  • Avoid driving alone.
  • On a long trip, share the driving with another passenger.
  • Pull over at a rest stop and take a nap.
  • Use caffeine for a short-term boost.
  • Take a short nap after consuming caffeine to maximize the alerting effect.
  • Arrange for someone to give you a ride home after working a late shift.

Join with us in vowing to never drive drowsy again — even if it means spending a little extra for a taxi, car service or a hotel for a night, or calling in a favor to a night-owl friend for a ride. Our lives are worth the extra effort.