Category Archives: Teen Driving Tips

Driverless Cars: Do We Still Need to Learn to Drive?

Driverless Cars: Do We Still Need to Learn to Drive?

Driverless cars are a hot topic right now in the technology and automotive industry. Features are already appearing on cars with different functions that the driver no longer needs to perform on their own, such as parallel parking. With driving becoming so much easier, do we still need to learn to drive? See why it’s probably not the time to skip driver’s education classes…yet.

Human Minds Still Know More

Have you ever been driving around in a new city and the GPS unit is screaming at you to turn right, but the road is closed? Or been looking at a map on your phone from an interstate, but the map shows you are in the middle of a field? There are many situations in everyday life where you must use common sense, or intuition, to get to your destination.

While it’s a nice idea to rely completely on technology when driving, the reality is that it isn’t likely. There are always problems that come up, emergencies or changes in plan. Operating a self-driving car will still likely require education on driving, laws, and operating the vehicle. That way, if anything comes up and you must navigate your car somewhere, you won’t be entirely helpless.

Natural Sequence of Driverless Cars

Looking at the driverless functions in cars today, it’s hard to imagine taking the jump to never needing driver’s education and having a personal self-driving car. The sequence will probably look more like this:

  • Cars that park themselves
  • Cars that can drive themselves on the freeways
  • Technology incorporated into public transit systems
  • Self-driving abilities around the major cities
  • Driving abilities expanded to paved roads
  • The ability to send a car for errands or drop kids off at locations without you

Having a self-driving car that allows the driver to off-road in any condition seems unlikely. People will always want to explore and experience life outside the regular schedule of life. Even having the technology available to never drive seems decades away, especially considering all the red tape that comes along with transportation.

It Isn’t for Everyone

People still like their independence and technology is rarely infallible. While there is still a large population of people who don’t like to drive, there are still many people who do enjoy it. Everyone will not want to give up the experience of driving, just like adults today. The need for taking driver’s education will stick around for a long time still to accommodate this part of the population.

As driverless cars become more available and popular, it is more likely that programs will adapt. Keeping current with the technology available, they will probably change from providing driver’s licenses to operator’s licenses. However, the need for knowing the laws and how to run a car will still be there.

Does Your Car’s Color Improve Its Safety?

Buying a new car comes with all kinds of decisions. The features, safety tests, and price all have an influence on a buyer’s final choice, but color is one of the dominating factors when it comes time to buy.

There are a lot of legends that fly around about how color influences its safety, but which of these are fact and which are fiction?

Legend: Light, Bright Colors are Safer

Fact: The answer to this one is that no one can really give a definitive answer. Yes, these colors are more visible on the road, but that doesn’t mean you should count on them as a bonus safety feature. An Australian study done in 2007 shows that white vehicles are 10% less likely to crash during daylight hours, as compared to colors like black, green, gray, red, and silver.

Federal government studies show that you can get a similar benefit by using your daytime running lights too.

Legend: Darker Colors Increase Internal Temperatures

Fact: This is also an area of little study. In 2011, Applied Energy did a small experiment though, where they put two Honda Civics next to each other in the sun, one silver, one black. Checking the internal temperature after an hour, the silver car was approximately 10 degrees cooler than the black car.

This doesn’t mean your vehicle is safer to leave people or pets in during the summer heat, but it does make your ride a little more comfortable when you first get in.

Legend: Red Cars Have Higher Insurance and More Speeding Tickets

Fact: The Insurance Information Institute says both are urban myths. The underwriting for insurance does not typically include car color as criteria for pricing. The legend is based on correlation. Red is one of the most popular colors for sports cars. Insurance companies do consider if the car holds up well in a crash and how much the car costs to repair and replace. Sports cars don’t rank well in any of these areas, making insurance coverage more expensive for these types of vehicles.

Similarly, people tend to want to drive faster in a sports car because that’s part of the fun. Driving at higher speeds increases chances of traffic incidents, which also drives up the cost of insurance and the chances of getting a speeding ticket.

Legend: Color Effects Theft Rate

Fact: This legend is true. White, silver, and black cars are all more susceptible to theft. In a 2010 research report from Tilburg University in the Netherlands, cars with more popular paint colors were stolen approximately 40% more than less popular colors. The reason is because popular colors are easier to turn around and sell. Less popular colors, like orange, have two disadvantages here for the thief. First, the car is easier to spot at a distance, increasing their chances of getting caught quickly. Second, it is harder to find a buyer for an orange car.

In the United States, white is becoming the preferred color for most luxury vehicles, meaning they are also targeted for interior thefts.  White cars also tend to become part of the crowd in a parking lot, drawing less attention from potential witnesses to the break-ins.

Choosing the Right Color

Color has an influence over different aspects of safety. However, you are going to get positives and negatives to each one. Instead of worrying over which one will give you a slight advantage to being spotted or having your vehicle stolen, focus on your driving skills. Your abilities as a driver are the largest factor to safety, not the car color. Become a part of the solution today.

Prepare Your Car for the Summer Heat

Prepare Your Car for Summer HeatSummer’s high temperatures influence everything around you, including your car. Taking steps to ensure that your car is ready for the heat can go a long way in making sure you have a more comfortable summer. One of the ways to remember to do your recommended car maintenance is to base it on the seasons. Here are some tips to getting your car ready for the summer heat.

De-Winterize Your Car

If you live in a colder climate that gets snow, you most likely did some things to winterize your car. Snow tires are required in many states for driving around, especially if roads aren’t plowed well. During the summer months, these types of tires will slow you down and decrease the efficiency of your vehicle. It’s a good idea to clean the undercarriage of your car too. This helps remove any melting salts or mud that was left from the wetter weather that can damage the metal of your car.

Do Routine Checks

Give your car a summer time routine check to make sure everything is refilled, recharged, and ready to go. This is especially important to do if you are planning a summertime road trip. Some things to consider are:

  • Change the oil and oil filter to keep your engine parts running smooth. This can also make sure that you don’t overheat your engine on long car trips to the beach or mountains, especially when the weather is hot outside.
  • Clean off your battery from any corrosion that may have happened from driving in a lot of wet weather. Too much build up, combined with hot outside temperatures, will significantly reduce the life of your battery. Wipe off all surfaces and connections to keep them running well.
  • Change the air filters in your car to make sure they aren’t clogged.
  • Refill the window washing fluid to increase your windshield visibility.
  • Make sure your tires are ready for long drives, with enough tread and air pressure.
  • Check the brakes. If there are any concerning noises or you notice that it takes you longer to brake, get them repaired.
  • Check all the hoses and belts under the hood. These parts help keep the engine cool, but if there are cracks, leaks, or loose connections the radiator can overheat very quickly. Make sure your belts are in good condition too, which helps prevent snapping and causing damage.

Get Your Air Conditioning Going

One thing people forget to check until it is too late is if the air conditioner in the car works. Try turning it on before it is too hot outside. This will give you time to get it fixed or tuned up before you experience high temperatures. The most common cause for air conditioning malfunction in a vehicle is having a low level of refrigerant. Professionals are best at locating and fixing problems, but it usually happens when there is a leak. Consult a trusted mechanic to do an air conditioning tune up to keep you driving comfortably.

When you have taken these steps, you can enjoy your summer knowing that you have done everything necessary to make sure your car is running smoothly. With so many fun things to do, no one wants to be stuck having car problems.

How Parents Can Help Combat Texting and Driving

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Is Commentary Driving an Effective Driving Technique?

Commentary Driving Technique

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.

How to Choose a Safe and Reliable Vehicle for Your Teen Driver

teen drivers and cars

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.

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