Approximately 64% of traffic incidents in the United States involve cell phones. Many experts are referring to this problem as an epidemic because it is so prevalent in our society. Teens across the nation are learning to drive and form habits that will last the rest of their life. They need to be instructed on the dangers of distracted driving from the beginning to help stop the problem and parents can play a key role in this education. Here are three things parents can do to help prevent their teen from texting and driving.
- Set a good example. Many parents have the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do”, but experts have always found that kids learn more from an adult’s example. When you get a text while driving, what do you do? Remember, your kids are watching.
Most states have passed laws dealing with distracted driving, especially with the use of cellphones. Simply telling your teen not to text and drive is not enough. You must teach them what to do instead. Here are some ways to deal with receiving and sending texts when you’re driving.
- If you have someone in your car, you can have them read it to you and respond.
- Pull over to the side of the road before looking at your phone.
- Wait until you get to your destination before worrying about your messages.
Remember that you must practice what you preach. These are all great options for dealing with texting and driving, helping to make sure they stay safe behind the wheel.
- Talk about it.
Education is key to preventing behaviors. There are plenty of resources available to show the consequences of watching a cellphone instead of the road. Swerve Driving Schools has resources that include videos of what could possibly happen, statistics, and curriculum that teaches the laws involving cellphones.
The dangers of texting and driving are real. Every look at the phone is estimated to take five seconds. Whether it is freeway speeds or driving through a neighborhood, looking down for even a couple of seconds can have serious consequences. A child running in the road, another driver changing lanes, traffic slowing or stopping are all common occurrences that require vigilance on the road. Reinforcing these teachings at home is vital to teens remembering them. Set specific rules for phones in the car and enforce them.
- Check up on your teens.
There are several ways you can make sure that your teen is being a safe driver.
- Ask them if they text and drive.
- Check their phone when they get home.
- Use parental apps that block texting and driving.
- Watch them if you pass each other on the road.
Parents feel like checking up on their teen breaks trust and ruins the relationship. Remember that your job is to be a parent and that you are teaching them correctly. It is better to make sure your teen is doing what’s right behind the wheel than getting a call that they have been hurt or hurt someone else through neglectful behavior.
Night driving can make some people a little anxious. Things can become a little stressful when the sun goes down, and drivers have to deal with decreased visibility, glaring headlights, and a restricted peripheral vision.
The darkness makes it harder to see other people or animals on the side of the road, and some drivers have trouble judging the distance between them and other obstacles.
There are some simple things you can do to increase your safety while on the road after dark. Take a look at these seven tips and start building your night driving skills today.
Don’t stare at the oncoming lights.
When it gets late, and you’ve been driving for a while, fatigue may start to set in, and you might catch yourself “caught in the headlights,” as it were.
The bright, oncoming headlights of other vehicles can become quite the distraction. More than that, when your eyes have gotten accustomed to the dimness inside your car, the sudden bright lights can ruin your night vision.
Instead of fixating on the lights, try to focus is on the right side of the road near the white lines. This will keep the glare out of your eyes and make sure you know where the road is leading.
And, if you’ve got someone’s glaring headlights in your rearview mirror, don’t stare into the mirror trying to figure out if they’ve got their high beams on or if it’s just a really big truck. You can adjust the rearview mirror to reflect the light backward and alert them to your discomfort. Use the day/night switch on the mirror and focus on the road ahead.
Watch for hazard indicators.
Don’t focus one a single point ahead of you to the exclusion of everything else. Keep your eyes moving and watching for signs of potential hazards.
For example, if you’re driving on country roads in the dark, large and small critters can suddenly appear in your way.
It’s hard to see them when they’re just standing still on the side of the road, but you can learn to watch for the signs. In this case, you may be able to spot two points of bright lights – the reflection of your headlights in their eyes.
When you see these types of hazard indicators, slow down and give yourself plenty of time to react.
Control the interior environment.
If your dashboard lights are too bright, they could reflect off your windshield and hinder your night vision. Dim the lights on the dashboard displays, on any GPS system that might be running, and any other light sources that could cause an unwanted glare.
It should go without saying (but we’re going to keep saying it anyway) that your cell phone should be set where any lights from its display won’t cause a distraction. The sudden illumination from a ringing phone can light up the entire interior of your car and disrupt your vision.
Distracted driving is bad enough during the day, don’t let it happen at night.
During daylight hours, statistics suggest that 660,000 drivers are handling cell phones or other electronic devices while they drive.
You are three times more likely to get into an accident when using a mobile device in the vehicle. Add to that the other challenges of night driving, and suddenly distracted driving is even more dangerous. So put the phone away until you get home.
Maintain your vehicle for night driving
A smear on your windshield can cause serious visibility problems. Unfortunately, you can’t always see them during the daylight hours, and they only become visible under the direct lights of an oncoming vehicle. Keep your windows clean, both inside and out.
You should also keep your headlights clean, your windshield fluid full, and have a microfiber or cotton cloth in the car at all times. This way, you can easily wipe off any fingerprints or smudges on the inside of the windows.
Finally, your regular vehicle maintenance should include making sure all the lights work correctly and that they’re aimed properly.
Deal with fatigue, don’t fight it or try to ignore it.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study suggested that 100,000 police reported collisions were a direct result of driver fatigue every year. This leads to more than 70,000 injuries and over 1,500 deaths out on the road.
Other studies have shown that fatigue-related collisions are most common in younger drivers, and that most of these happen at night, generally between midnight and 4 am.
The answer is to spot the signs of fatigue and to deal with them. Find a safe place to pull over for a while. Don’t try to convince yourself that louder music, colder AC, or the coffee you had an hour ago will keep you awake.
Defensive driving is proactive driving. It means you’re always watching for potential hazards and you always know how you’ll react in certain situations. This is extremely important when you’re driving at night.
Always leave plenty of room between you and the car ahead, because they may see something and react in unexpected ways. You have to react just as quickly, and you have to react correctly.
It’s also important to remember that your low beams can only illuminate so much of the road, and even high beams won’t give you much time to reach if you’re going too fast. Examine your surroundings, consider the potential hazards, and modify your driving to match the situation.
Driving at night may pose a few extra challenges, but if you adopt some of these techniques and tips, you can make the journey much safer.
Congratulations on having a teen driver! This is an exciting time for your student, but often a stressful time for you, as their parent.
You’ve done your homework in researching driving schools and new driver training techniques, educating yourself on how you can best help your student become a good, safe driver.
What is Commentary Driving?
As good as your intentions are at imparting the best driving tips and advice onto your student driver while out on a training drive, sometimes you’re doing more harm than good.
If you’ve gone out on any training drives with your student, you know how tense and uncomfortable it can be for both you and your driver: your student is nervous and you’re unintentionally adding to their uneasiness through barking commands and criticism.
Instead of shouting out commands to your student and harping on their mistakes, why not be quiet and instead praise them for what he or she did right?
This is what’s behind commentary driving.
As the name implies, there is a conversation, or series of comments that are said while out driving with your teen.
Contrary to what you may think, it is your student, not yourself, who is doing all the commenting. For this driving technique to be effective, parents are discouraged from saying much during the drive.
The comments said by the student are to be their observations of the surrounding traffic conditions. The comments can be short phrases and incomplete sentences. Your student needs to say their observations out loud.
An example of something a teen driver can say is “I am going 45 miles per hour, but am approaching a red light, so I’ll begin to slow down. There is a blue car two car lengths behind and there is another car in the left lane making a turn and waiting for a pedestrian to cross.”
The more descriptive and specific the student’s observations are, the better. If your student doesn’t say anything, ask them why, what they are thinking about and how they would have handled the situation differently.
The only time you should speak is immediately after the student makes a noticeable mistake. Right after the mistake has been made, tell your student to safely pull over onto the side of the road and briefly go over what went wrong.
After the drive, go over the whole drive with your student, praising him or her for what they handled well and asking them what they learned from their mistakes. It is crucial that during this time you ask your student to give a self-assessment on how they think they did and wheat they learned.
The Benefits of the Commentary Driving Technique
As a parent, the most important things you want to come out of each training drive are an increase in your student’s confidence in their driving abilities and an improvement in their familiarity with operating a vehicle.
Both desired outcomes will be more likely if your student has a more enjoyable behind the wheel driving experience.
The benefits of commentary driving aim to reduce the stress, anxiety and tension that comes from traditional practice driving techniques.
Here are some of the other benefits of commentary driving:
- Improves the driving confidence of student drivers by lowering their nervousness and tendency to second-guess themselves
- Gives both the student and the parent an idea of the student’s driving knowledge, decision-making abilities and how well they are paying attention to their surroundings
- The added silence lets the student to better concentrate and observe as well as feel more at ease
- The instant correction after a mistake is more impactful because the incident is fresh in their minds
- The praise and the opportunity for them to critique themselves empowers student drivers so they gain confidence
- Speaking their thoughts, observations and decisions out loud makes students more assertive and comfortable while also putting into practice what they learned in driver’s education
If you haven’t tried the commentary driving technique with your student driver, it is worth a try. It will lower both yours and your teen driver’s stress which will make for more enjoyable drives and a more confident soon-to-be driver.
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 state licensed driving school.
At Swerve Driving School, we help equip teen drivers to become skilled, safe drivers. For more information about our driver’s education, fleet training, or adult driving courses, contact us today.
Slick roads, and poor visibility often makes winter driving treacherous. Don’t get into one of the many winter driving pile ups that happen all too often. Below are some tips to help you avoid them.
It’s already August, meaning school is around the corner. Your mornings are about to get chaotic and frantic trying to get everyone out the door on time. Though you may be tempted to drive more aggressively than normal, trying to beat the clock is not worth the cost of a life.
The National Safety Council cites that most incidents involving kids happen in close proximity to schools. As a driver, you have the power to help avoid these incidents through defensive driving. Here are some safe driving tips:
There will be many kids and their parents walking and running on the sidewalks and even in the street. The best thing to do as a driver is to anticipate sudden behavior. Kids can be unpredictable and they are not always aware of their surroundings. Below are some other safe driving tips for pedestrians:
- Don’t block a crosswalk or intersection when waiting for a red light or making a left hand turn.
- In a school zone where the caution lights are flashing, you are to obey the speed limit and yield to pedestrians and bicyclists in the crosswalks.
- Don’t pass a vehicle that is stopped for pedestrians
- You must always stop for a crossing guard or school patrol officer who is holding a stop sign.
- Always use caution and be on the look-out for children
Kids and bikes together can be a driver’s nightmare. Here are some additional safe driving tips to help you navigate around young cyclists:
- Be careful and watchful for bicyclists near schools, parks, and residential areas.
- When making a left-hand turn, yield to a bicyclist coming from the opposite direction before making your turn. This situation is where the most bike and vehicle incidents and collisions occur.
- When making a right-hand turn, check your mirrors for bicyclists. If a bicyclist is present, leave at least feet between your car and the bicyclist. Seek to make eye contact and allow the bike to pass you before you turn.
- Check your side mirrors before opening your car door and always use your turn signals.
It is also inevitable that you’ll also run into a few school buses along the way. Buses are slow and nobody wants to be stuck behind them. It is important to note, however, that according to the National Safety Council states that kids are more likely to die in school bus-related incidents at drop-off and pick-up sites than anywhere else. It is, then, even more, important to drive safely and cautiously around busses. Below are some safe driving tips around school buses:
- When coming to a stop behind a stopped school bus, stay at least 10 feet away so children exiting the bus can do so safely.
- It is illegal in every state to pass a school bus while its yellow or red lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended.
- Even after the bus turns off its lights and its stop arm is no longer extended, you should not pass it as there will be kids around and some may want to cross the road.
In the craziness of school, drop-offs, you can count on other drivers to be just as harried as you are. You can’t control how other people drive, but you can control how you drive. Instead of tailgating and blaring the horn, here are some tips to help you safely deal with other drivers:
- Leave a safe following distance. You never know when or if they’ll need to suddenly stop. A safe following distance will help you avoid you rear-ending them.
- Don’t pass a stopped car. The car can be stopped to drop off children or it can be stopped to let kids cross the street. Kids are notorious for meandering in and around parked cars.
- Avoid trying to squeeze by cars to make a right-hand turn. This maneuver may cause you to get within a few feet of kids on the sidewalk who can jump into the street suddenly for multiple reasons.
- Don’t honk. All the other drivers are likely to be stressed out too. The alarming sound of a car horn can rattle other drivers, even more, increasing their chances of making poor driving decisions.
Along with other frantic drivers, there may be some inexperienced teen drivers on the road taking siblings to school. You can be a good example for these new drivers by being patient and practicing safe driving.
Let this school year be safe for everyone. It starts with your defensive driving, anticipation, and patience. If you think your safe driving skills aren’t up to snuff, we offer adult driving refresher courses to help your confidence behind the wheel.
Kids grow up watching movies and television shows that are filled with over-the-top car races and chasing scenes that involve sleek and sexy vehicles, but parents watch a different “show.” They watch their babies grow into teenagers who have learned to legally drive and without question this comes with happiness that is laced with a tinge of fear.
Once your teen can drive, you want them to say “yes, mom and dad, your incredibly safe and airbag filled minivan IS cool, I wouldn’t want to drive anything else, ” but we all know that is not the case. Teenagers are knee deep in the time of life when being “cool” is their major concern. Not to worry, there are plenty of vehicles out there that have been designed to handle wear and tear, are affordable, and most of all safe.
Here are a few things to consider when the day comes that you buy a vehicle for your teen driver:
- Bigger = Safer – Heavier vehicles are safer and will always win in a time of a collision. SUVs are dependable and a wise choice for your teen driver
- Avoid high horsepower – Your teen is most likely to think that the beefier the engine the better, but the power that comes with these vehicles should be avoided for new drivers. Plain and simple – they just don’t have the experience yet to understand how horsepower effects a vehicle and are likely to not know how to safely operate them
- Look for electronic stability – This technology has been mandatory in vehicles since 2012. It automatically helps the driver maintain stability while navigating sharp turns/curves or rain and snow covered roads. There is proof that this technology has cut single-vehicle fatal crashes nearly in half. This is a MUST feature
The fatal rate for teenagers is three times higher than all other drivers, but there is good news. Within the past 10 years, the safety requirements for vehicles have improved immensely. The auto industry has been required to improve the safety aspects of all their vehicles. Any parent will worry no matter what, but there are reliable and safe vehicles to choose from that can help put your mind at ease.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has compiled a list of vehicles, which they have categorized into “good choices” and “best choices.” This shows the best large cars, midsize cars, small SUVs, midsize SUVs, large SUVs, minivans, and pickups in both the “good choices” and “best choices” categories, all of which start under $20, 000.
However, because nearly 85 percent of parents purchase used vehicles for their teen driver they will most likely have to compromise on some of the criteria, which puts most affordable vehicles in the “good choices” category. But not to worry… these vehicles are just as they say – “good” choices.
Make sure your teens start their driving journey with proper training and plenty of experience. Giving them the necessary skills to know how to navigate in the world of driving is the only way to truly help them stay safe on the road.
Get more information at goswerve.com
The 5 Reasons Your Teen Needs Driving Training
School is out. Summer is in, and your teen needs driving training courses more than ever before. Unfortunately, there is something about this season that makes it one of the most dangerous times to be on the road. While a lot of strides have been made in driver safety over the years, motor vehicle crashes still remain the number 1 cause of death for drivers between the ages of 15 and 19. In fact, teens have the highest crash rate of any age demographic in the U.S.
And since more teens are out on the road during the summer months than in any other season, it’s critical to ensure that they have the education and experience to stay safe out on the roads.
And that means getting them behind the wheel next to an experienced driver in a structured education program.
Need more convincing? Here are 5 important reasons to enroll your teen in driver’s education this summer.
Here are 5 important reasons to enroll your teen in driver’s education this summer.
1. The 100 Deadliest Days of Driving
The Span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered the 100 Deadliest Days of Driving because this is when teen crash fatalities start to go way up.
Teens are already a higher risk on the road than more experienced drivers, but there is something about this time that seems to increase the risk even further. It could be that:
Summer is a time for recreational driving. Teens are driving for fun, not just to get from point A to point B.
Teens tend to drive with other teens in the car more often, which increases the risk of crashes.
Clear conditions (and other teens in the car) may tempt teens to speed.
Longer days means teens stay out longer, and night driving leads to higher risks.
There are simply more drivers out on the road when the weather is clear and inviting
These and many other factors add to the importance of making sure your teens are educated and experienced before they join the summer rush.
2. Crashes Affect More than Just Teen Drivers
According to an analysis of the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), in 2013, an average of 220 teen drivers and passengers died in traffic crashes in every summer month.
But it’s not just the people in the car or the teen behind the wheel who are injured or killed in these crashes. In fact, nearly two-thirds of the people injured in these situations are not the teenage drivers. This study revealed that:
- 66% of people killed and 67% of people injured in crashes are not the teen drivers
- 50% of those injured were in another vehicle
- 17% of those injured were the teen driver’s car
- 2% of those injured were pedestrians
- 30% of those killed were in another car
- 27% of those killed were passengers in the teen’s vehicle
- 10% of those killed were pedestrians
3. Delayed Licensing Means Higher Risks
Some teens just put off getting a license for a variety of reasons. Some may not have a car. Others may not think they can afford gas prices. And, unfortunately, some don’t want to take a driver’s education course. This means that, once they turn 18, they can get a license without getting the same education and experience as those who completed their coursework.
What this means in real terms is that more and more people are getting on the road without any formal training. In fact, the only real example they have at that point is what they’ve seen friends and family do (and all of the bad habits they’ve picked up over the years).
Driver’s education courses provide experience under less risky conditions and a safety-focused education.
How much does this really help?
Research shows that states with a comprehensive driver licensing program have a 38% decrease in fatal crashes and a 40% decrease in injurious crashes that involve 16 year-olds.
4. Dealing with Distractions
It’s bad enough when adults get distracted while driving, but since teens have less experience behind the wheel and dealing with multiple things happening at once, the situation becomes even worse.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did some research and was able to create a list of the most common distractions that led a teenage driver to crash.
- 15% were interacting with one or more passengers
- 12% were using their cell phones
- 10% were looking at something else in the vehicle
- 9% were looking at something else outside the vehicle
- 8% were singing or grooving to music
- 6% were grooming
- 6% were reaching for something in the car
5. Teen Driver’s Education Significantly Reduces Crashes and Even Tickets
Safety-focused education can teach teens about the dangers of distracted driving and make sure they understand how real this problem is.There was a time when studies claimed that driver’s training programs didn’t actually reduce crashes (leading to many states cutting the programs from their schools), but more modern research has shown just the opposite.
This study, performed by researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln followed 150, 000 teen drivers for 8 years. What the found was that drivers who had not completed driver’s education were 75% more likely to get a ticket and 24% more likely to be involved in a fatal or injury accident.
Getting Enough Education
- 30 hours in classroom
- 6 hours behind the wheel
- 1 hour (minimum) and up to 6 hours behind the wheel observation
- Swerve Driving Schools is also a Washington State testing center that offers Knowledge Testing and Road Testing.
Find a location where you can get more information here: http://goswerve.com/programs/new-driver-training/
Distracted Driving Awareness Month
April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, and GoSwerve wants your help in fighting the rampant problem of distracted driving. If we don’t act, it will only get worse.
Unfortunately, the technology has made it easier to drive distracted. From smartphones to iPods; and Bluetooth to GPS, driving is more dangerous than ever– causing hundreds of deaths each year. Join us in cracking down on this dangerous & deadly problem.
Here are a few ways you can become less distracted while driving.
- Avoid using hands-free features in your vehicle. Studies have shown drivers are still distracted and can miss 50 percent of surroundings (other cars, stop signs, turn signals, brake lights) when using any hands free feature in your vehicle.
- Do not voice text. It may seem safer to voice text than text with your hands, but it is not true, you are still distracted. Remember, technology in a vehicle is always distracting, even if you feel comfortable.
Companies spend more than $59 million each year on collisions in company vehicles due to distracted driving. Do not become distracted in a work vehicle, the results of damaging work property could affect your work situation and your family negatively.
- There are many apps you can download to disallow texting and other phone activity while in the car. This can serve as a reminder when the habit to text or post online comes to mind.
- Educate yourself or your teen about the risks of distracted driving. Swerve Driving School has researched based teaching methods and instruction which has proven successful having taught thousands of students.
- Visit http://goswerve.com/ or https://www.facebook.com/SWERVEDrivingSchool for more information on driving tips and training.
Be part of the solution and talk to Swerve Driving School about becoming a franchise in your state! Contact us to get more information today.
Pop quiz: who is a riskier driver, a 16- or 17-year-old who just received their license or someone between the ages of 18 and 21 who just received their license?
In a totally unexpected and counterintuitive twist, it turns out that the answer is that people who wait until they are older to get their license are more likely to receive traffic citations and be involved in a fatal wreck.
Why bring this sort of question up now? Because statistics are showing that in some places around the country, more and more teens are choosing to wait to get their license.
So the question has to be asked, why are they waiting so long? And while we’re at it, let’s also ask why it is that older beginners might be at greater risk.
Factors in Putting Off the Driver’s License
There was a time when receiving your driver’s license was a sign of real freedom. You could go where you wanted on your own. You could… be asked to run errands for your parents. But at least you were doing it on your own.
Whatever else it may have meant, it was proof that you were becoming an adult. So why are more and more teens waiting to get their licenses?
In a survey conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the most common reasons why young people wait to get licensed are:
- Did not have a car (44%)
- Could get around without driving (39%)
- Gas was too expensive (36%)
- Driving was too expensive (36%)
- Just didn’t get around to it (35%)
- Could do what I wanted without driving (32%)
- Was nervous about driving (30%)
- Just not very interested in driving (29%)
- Had to complete driver education course first (28%)
- Getting a license was too expensive (26%)
The financial concerns surrounding driving classes and owning and maintaining a car are the most common reasons why young people are procrastinating their license, but as we look closer, we’ll see that a number of these other reasons have just as much impact.
For some teens, it’s just easier to put it off until they don’t have to pay for driving classes. For others, they just don’t see the need, since they can get where they need to go with public transportation or through friends who are licensed.
So What’s the Big Deal?
So why does it matter? Is it really such a big deal if drivers wait until they’re a little older before seeking a license and hitting the road?
Statistics seem to suggest that it is, actually, a pretty big deal, and those who wait usually end up becoming worse drivers.
- Drivers who got their licenses at age 18 received, on average, 3x as many citations as people who began driving at 16.
- Drivers over 18 were more likely to fail their driving tests. 24% of such drivers failed their first test.
- Drivers who never took classes were 24% more likely to be involved in a fatal wreck.
Taken together, these statistics seem to suggest that getting educated and getting the right kind of experiences earlier in life may help to reduce the risks to drivers on the road.
What Factors Contribute to This Situation?
As the statistics above suggest, money has a large influence on when a driver might finally attempt to acquire a license. This is because 16- and 17-year-olds are required to take driving lessons before they can take their driver’s tests. Some people just don’t the money (or the inclination to spend the money) for the classes.
New drivers who are already 18 are not required to go through that kind of structured education, and as such they can save the cost of the classes. However, they also don’t have the same kind of restrictions that younger drivers have. There is no limit on how late they can drive, or how many passengers they can have in the vehicle. So, without any formal lessons and help from experienced teachers, they’re getting behind the wheel in situations that are known to be extra risky.
In the end, it can’t be said enough: education matters.
There’s more to driving than just “winging it.” And there’s more to driving than just passing the test and getting licensed. Staying safe on the road means really knowing how to react in any given situation, and that kind of mental foundation only comes from a good education.
The statistics cited throughout this post can be found in this article on the Seattle Times: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/young-drivers-wait-to-get-licenses-with-dangerous-consequences/