A Parent’s Guide to Modeling Good Driving for Your Teen

modeling good driving

When it comes to teaching teenagers to drive, the most important factor is you, the parent. Showing your teenager how to drive starts long before they start driver’s education. Here are five areas you can focus on to set a great example for your future drivers.

  1. Drive Calm and Un-impaired. Before you get behind the wheel, pay attention to how you are feeling. Are you stressed? Angry? Distracted? If you answer yes to any of these feelings, you are not going to be able to drive calm and carefully. Any of these can increase your chances of road rage, impatience in following laws, and your ability to effectively talk to your teen about things you see on the road. The same goes for impaired driving. If you have been drinking, doing drugs, taking medications, or are overly tired, you are not fit to drive. Make sure you say out loud to your child that it is important to never drive impaired.
  2. Emphasize Safety. Before you pull out of your driveway, it is important to make sure you are wearing a seatbelt. If you have passengers in the car, it is vital to make sure they are all buckled in properly too. This shows others that safety is a priority in your car and you expect them to follow the rules.
  3. Responding to Other Drivers Responsibly. There will be plenty of times on the road that you will be cut-off or someone does something aggressive around you on the road. Instead of getting upset, show your child how to stay calm, focus on the road, and keep your composure. If someone does something incorrectly on the road, calmly point it out to your child and explain why it was not right. Showing examples and taking time to explain is the best way to teach a principle.
  4. Follow the Laws. A child only has as much respect for the law as they are taught. Make sure you follow the speed limits and other traffic laws. Most importantly, do not use your cell phone while driving. If you need to respond to a message or look something up, pull off the road. You can even hand your phone to them to do it for you. Don’t make exceptions for yourself.
  5. Receive Their Correction. As the parent, it can be hard to receive correction from your child when you are the one who is supposed to be correcting them. When your child points out that you are driving over the speed limit, not wearing your seatbelt, or you didn’t come to a full and complete stop, thank them for noticing and say that you will try and do better. Set the example on how to take correction because you will be giving plenty of your own when they are behind the wheel.

“Do as I say, not as I do” is one saying that just won’t work with teenagers, especially with driving. Set a good example by modeling the behaviors listed above and your teen will not only follow you but they also just might listen to your corrections too.

Why the Number of Passengers in Your Car Matters

Why the number passengers in the car matters

There has been a big push to educate the public on the danger of using cell phones while driving. The main reason a cell phone is dangerous is that it distracts drivers from the road. When it comes to teens driving, there is a bigger reason they aren’t paying attention to the road though and it is just as dangerous, if not more. A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health in 2012 showed that the biggest distraction to a teen driver was peer passengers in the car. This information was found by comparing risks and factors documented on-scene by a crash investigator.

When a teenager starts to drive, they are already at a disadvantage because of their lack of experience on the road. Driving independently is important for a teen to get experience on the road. In fact, the risk of getting into a crash drops by more than two-thirds after driving 1,000 to 1,500 miles. During this time, some states have extra laws that limit the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle.

Behind the Distraction

During the study, the male teens showed that they were much more likely to engage in risky behavior and maneuvers in front of their peers than if they were alone. A female teen driver with passengers didn’t have an increase in dangerous maneuvers, but they were more distracted because they were talking more with friends. Across the board, the teenagers were distracted by worrying more about what was going on inside their car than outside, taking their attention away from the road.

Combating the Problem

States have implemented laws that help to decrease the risks of these behaviors. For example, Washington limits newly licensed drivers under the age of 18 for the first year. During the first six months, teen drivers are not allowed to have passengers under the age of 20 unless they are an immediate family member. After those six months, the remaining six months of the year are limited to no more than three non-family passengers who are under 20 years old.

All 50 states have adopted similar standards, referred to as graduated licensing laws. These grant privileges to new drivers in phases before receiving a regular driver’s license. The most successful laws combine these graduated licensing laws with limiting night driving and the number of passengers. These programs showed an 8 to 14 percent drop in fatal crashes for 16 to 17-year-olds. Having and enforcing these laws helps get teen drivers past those first crucial 1,000 to 1,500 miles. Once they are more experienced and feel comfortable behind the wheel, it hopefully isn’t such a big distraction to have friends in the car.

Parents play a vital role in these laws and in limiting passengers. While you can’t always control your child or know if they are keeping the rules you set, you can still enforce what you do know. The risk of a fatal crash triples when there are two or more peer passengers in the car with a teen driver and 59% of teen passenger deaths happen in cars driven by another teen. Make sure to talk to your teen driver about the laws and the expectations you have for them. If you live in a state where there are no laws limiting the number of passengers or their ages, make your own family rule about it. It can help keep your teen safe on the road.

Driver Safety: 4th of July Celebrations

driver safety 4th of July

The 4th of July is the biggest summer celebrations in the United States. From fireworks to fairs, there are a lot of fun events for people to attend. With increased crowds and traffic though, this day has become a deadly one on the roads. Before you celebrate the big day, here are 10 things you can keep in mind to celebrate in safety.

  1. Give yourself plenty of time to travel. One of the leading causes of car crashes is speeding. If you leave a few minutes early to your destination, it gives you a buffer for any delays. With less pressure, you won’t feel rushed to get there or drive too fast.
  2. Stay hydrated. July is a hot month and spending time outdoors at parades, fairs, and concerts don’t help. Driving dehydrated mimics drunk driving with slower reaction times and fuzzy thinking. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day and night.
  3. Use navigation apps early. Most people know where they are driving for their traditional parties or events, but you should still enter the destination into your phone before you start driving. Parade routes, firework shows, and blocked roads for other events often confuse drivers and lead to using a phone while driving. Entering the address into your phone before you leave will allow directions for an alternate route to happen automatically when you start making turns.
  4. Get Enough Sleep. Experts recommend getting seven hours of sleep every 24-hours. Research shows that missing even one or two hours of sleep can almost double your risk of crashing. With early parade shows and late nights filled with fireworks, people don’t get enough sleep before getting behind the wheel of a car. If you find yourself getting tired, pull off the road and take a nap.
  5. Don’t drink and drive. People love to celebrate the 4th of July with alcohol. Before you drink, make sure you designate a driver to get everyone home safely. Alcohol and driving just don’t mix well.
  6. Check your car for maintenance issues. Many people drive long distances for their celebrations. Before you hit the road, have a trusted mechanic check over your vehicle for any concerns. Getting the maintenance done before you leave ensures you can have a smoother, less stressful drive. It can also save you money by avoiding a pricey tow or emergency car repair in an unfamiliar place.
  7. Don’t drive alone. While friends usually get a bad reputation for distracting the driver, but some insurance companies are quick to point out that they can also help keep you focused. Women are nearly twice as likely to speak up as men to tell the driver to put away cell phones. Having a passenger also helps with finding dropped items, aid in navigation, and keeping the driver awake.
  8. Wear a helmet. Motorcyclists are out the most during good weather, like during the 4th of July. If you are a motorcyclist, make sure you are wearing a helmet and any other safety gear. With so many extra people on the road during the festivities, motorcyclists are the most at risk for serious injury.
  9. Watch out for pedestrians. There are a lot of people walking around during this holiday. Parades, carnivals, fairs, walking to or leaving fireworks shows, and doing fireworks in the streets all add up to a lot of extra pedestrians. Drive slowly and watch out for anyone who might dart out into the road.
  10. Drive cautiously around fireworks. The sudden boom, scream, or crackling of fireworks can surprise a driver and cause swerving if it happens next to the car. They can also leave the driver with a slight hearing loss. Big flashes of light from various fireworks also can cause decreased sight. Make sure that you drive slowly and with caution no matter where you are that night.

The 5 Best Habits of Proactive Driving

The 5 Best Habits of Proactive Driving

Many drivers on the road are only thinking about getting from point A to point B. It can be hard to stay
safe on the roads when people aren’t paying good enough attention to their surroundings. Proactive
drivers are always staying aware and thinking about safety. If you are interested in developing new
habits for proactive driving, try these five things to change.
1. Safety First. Proactive drivers are thinking about safety from the moment they enter the vehicle.
The first step to staying safe is using seat belts and making sure that all the passengers in their
car are properly restrained too. Don’t ever start driving until everyone is ready to go. Other ways
you can focus on safety include following traffic laws, driving within the speed limit, and
maintaining a safe distance between cars.
2. Avoiding Aggression. Drivers who are proactive aren’t aggressive. Aside from driving too fast,
don’t cut in front of other drivers, never tailgate or get agitated, and never engage angry drivers
with bad behavior. If another driver is harassing you and trying to harm you, call the police.
These situations can endanger you and other drivers on the road.
3. Anticipate Problems. When you approach an intersection, it is important to anticipate what
other drivers will do. If you arrived first and have the right-of-way and another driver starts
entering the intersection, don’t just drive through anyway. Also, when your light turns green,
look around before going through the intersection. It is a good idea to anticipate what other
drivers are doing to avoid a collision. If there is any sort of confusion, try communicating with
the other drivers by motioning for them to go, using a signal to show your intended movements,
and using the proper turning lanes.
4. Plan Ahead. Knowing that there are potential problems while traveling will help you drive
proactively. Try not to drive the same speed as the cars in the lanes next to you. If you block the
road for other drivers or find yourself in the middle lane surrounded by vehicles, you have no
where to go if something goes wrong. Do your best to drive with an escape plan in mind, just in
case you have a tire blow, a car by you loses control, or there is a collisionn accident, you have a
way to stay safe.
5. Don’t Drive Distracted. One of the biggest hazards drivers deal with on the road is driving
distracted. It is important to stay focused on the road and everything that surrounds you.
Watching for pedestrians, cars slowing or stopping in front of you, and other drivers changing
lanes requires paying attention. Ignore your phone, keep passengers under control, and avoid
messing with anything on your dashboard too much. To be proactive, you must stay focused.
If you are looking to stay safe on the road, the best thing you can do is develop these proactive habits.
Staying alert and driving defensively are the best ways you can get to your destination safely while
keeping everyone around you safe too.

3 Signs Your Teen is Ready to Drive

3 signs teen ready to driveSixteen it a transformative age for many teenagers across the country because it means freedom. More freedom to do what they want, more responsibility, and a chance to be more like an adult. Not all teens are ready to drive on their sixteenth birthday though. States have tests that check for the readiness with knowing laws and how to handle a vehicle, but parents know their own child better than anyone else. If you aren’t sure if your child is ready to drive or not, here are three signs that can help you decide.

  1. Meeting Expectations. Making and keeping commitments is an important lesson to learn in life. As the parent, you should set expectations for your teenager to keep that are clear and fair. Getting a driver’s license is a serious step for a teenager because they are making a large commitment. Seeing how well they meet the expectations you set is a good indicator of how serious they are in getting a license and that they realize the responsibility that goes with it.
  2. Knows Boundaries. While most teenagers do things that clearly weren’t very well thought through, there are still things they do that let you know they understand boundaries. Some of these boundaries are not participating in unsafe behaviors, acting appropriately in class, and keeping family rules. Teenagers are professional boundary pushers and won’t always act perfectly, but you can learn a lot by really paying attention. What boundaries they are pushing and why? If you can talk to them, it will give you a glimpse into their understanding of what is important.
  3. Understands Consequences. One part of brain development that happens during the teenage years is being able to foresee consequences. If a student does their homework and hands it in, they have a higher chance of learning the material and being successful in the classroom. However, if a student continually sleeps in late and doesn’t get to school on time, their chance of passing that morning class is very small. If your teenager is having a hard time understanding the concept of creating desired consequences, it might be more difficult for them to understand the seriousness of speeding, drinking and driving, and even texting while driving.

If you don’t think your child is ready to drive, it’s important for you to talk to them about it. The government will never issue a driver’s license or permit to a minor without the consent of their parent. Make sure you are loving and kind while you explain the reasons why you think that and then help them see what steps they can take to become ready. Remember that no one is perfect and allow your teenager to change and try again.

If you feel like your child is ready to drive, make sure you have a talk with them about your expectations. Check in with them often and always let them know you’re ready to answer any questions about driving that may come up. From grades to driving the speed limit, you help your teen succeed when you let them know you lovingly hold them to a high standard.

4 Common Reasons for Car Crashes and What You Can Do to Avoid Them

For Reasons for a car crash

Car crashes happen every day, in every state, all over the country. There are many reasons they happen, but some of the most common reasons are the most preventable. Here are four of the most common reasons for car crash and how you can avoid them.

  1. Distracted Driving. One of the top reasons for car crashes in the United States is from drivers not paying attention to the road. Some of the most common reasons people are distracted are:
  • Texting
  • Talking to passengers or on the phone
  • Eating
  • Applying make up
  • Reaching for something that falls on the floor

Not paying attention to the road for even a few seconds can lead to a collision. Depending on the speed, a car can travel up to several hundred feet in just seconds and each of these take the driver’s attention away from the road.

How to Avoid It: Put your phones and devices away, don’t get so involved with anything that takes your attention away from the road, and pull off the road if you need to accomplish any of the listed tasks.

  1. Driving While Impaired. Being impaired means being weakened of damaged in, or having some sort of disability. When applied to driving, this comes in a few different forms, including driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs and medication that decrease your ability to function in a normal way. Driving when you are overly tired is another form of impairment. If you are driving under any of these circumstances, you are not capable of driving a car responsibly. Your thinking and reasoning skills are slower, vision is compromised, and reaction times are much worse. Car crashes are often a result of driving impaired and come with heavy consequences, including jail time and a revoked driver’s license.

How to Avoid It: Never get behind the wheel of a car if you’ve been drinking or doing drugs. Check all medication warnings carefully and pay attention to how you feel before attempting to drive. If you know that you will be in a situation where your driving abilities will be impaired, arrange for someone else to drive. If you are feeling too tired, pull off the road and take a nap or switch drivers. Never take a chance or reason that you’re good enough to drive.

  1. Speeding. Too often, people are driving while in a hurry, going too fast. All it takes is getting cut off, hitting black ice, or trying to run a red light to cause a collision. Police can determine how fast a vehicle was going in a crash based on the tire’s skid marks on the road and the severity of the damage to another vehicle. It is harder to stop a car that is going fast, but it also has more force behind it when the crash happens.

How to Avoid It: Pay careful attention to how fast you are driving. Do your best to not feel rushed while driving by giving yourself plenty of time to reach your destination. Don’t race other cars.

4. Aggressive Driving. The last common reason for car crashes is because drivers get too aggressive with another driver on the road. When someone gets cut off or becomes impatient with a slower driver, sometimes they can’t let it go and get aggressive by try to get some sort of payback. These aggressive

Riding Passenger: A Survival Guide for Parents with a Teen Driver

riding passengerMost states require a licensed driver or parent to ride passenger with their student driver for a certain number of hours. This helps the student to get practice on the road with some responsible supervision. If you are a parent, you will spend many of these hours in the car with your student, so here is a little survival guide for you.

  1. Start out slow. The last thing you want to do for your new driver is scare them (or you as the parent) too much. Even if your driver feels ready to jump right in to busy roads, it’s not a good idea. Start working on basics in a parking lot and move to neighborhood streets. After a bit of practice, try moving to slightly busier roads. Stick to familiar roads for the both of you. That way, you can know what to expect. As your teenager becomes more experienced, move to busy roads and eventually the freeway.
  2. Practice commentary driving. When you are out driving together, have your teen explain what they see. Some examples might be “we are approaching a stop light that is turning yellow, I’m preparing to stop”, “a child on a bike is coming up to the crosswalk, I’m going to slow down”, or “the car in front of me is braking, I’m slowing down”. While it won’t help you completely relax, it can help remove tension knowing that they are paying attention to their surroundings. It also provides opportunities for you to teach your teen what they should be watching for while driving.
  3. Put your phone to use. Part of the reason you come along is to help teach your teen, right? If you have your phone handy, you can test their restraint by texting them every so often to see if they stay focused on the road. Use this as a teaching moment by giving positive reinforcement if they choose not to use it while driving. If they reach for their phone, remind them how important it is to not use their phones even at stop signs and red lights. They should pull off the road and out of traffic if they need to use their phone.
  4. Post a sign on the bumper. Bumper stickers and/or magnets that say “Caution: New Driver” or “Student Driver, please be patient” are available to purchase online and in some local stores. You can also make your own using some paper and a magic marker. This helps other drivers be aware that your teen is still learning, and they should be patient and give them a little extra space.

Behind every great driver is a parent who put in the hours and sweat to teach them. Make sure you buy yourself a reward, even if it’s a pack of gold stickers. It’s a big accomplishment for your teenager to get their driver’s license, but it’s also a big step for you too. Driver’s education teachers rely on parents to reinforce what students learn in class. These parent survival tips will help you be prepared for some common situations to experience together.

Sharing the Road with Motorcyclists

Share the road with motorcyclistsMay is motorcycle awareness month, so we thought it was a good time to review safety tips for both motorcyclists and drivers of regular vehicles too. Since both are responsible for keeping everyone safe, here are eight tips for all drivers.

  1. Always check your blind spots. Cars and motorcycles all come equipped with rear view mirrors. While they make driving easier, they don’t give you a complete picture behind and around your car. Motorcycles fit into blind spots easier and make it harder to spot them. Whether you’re driving a motorcycle or driving a vehicle, make sure you are always aware of your surroundings by checking your blind spots and being aware when you’re in someone else’s.
  2. Motorcycles have a faster reaction time. Cars are bigger and slower to maneuver. Motorcyclists only tilt slightly to change a lane and can go in and out of traffic easier. This makes it more hazardous for drivers who aren’t paying attention.
  3. Weather changes the game. Wet roads and windy conditions are only a slight annoyance to a vehicle, but potentially hazardous to a motorcyclist. When the weather isn’t sunny and beautiful, everyone should slow down. Motorcyclists must go around puddles and ice, so make sure that you give them room in bad conditions.
  4. Practice extra caution when dark. It is harder for all drivers to see at night, but it is even harder to see motorcycles on the road. Avoid driving a motorcycle in the dark and be watch carefully for motorcyclists when changing lanes in a vehicle.
  5. Clearly signal. All drivers should signal before changing lanes or turning. To be extra safe, make sure you are signaling for a decent amount of time so it is clear to others what you’re doing. Be aware what hand signals are used for different turns as well.
  6. Control your rage. Road rage is dangerous for all drivers, but it can be fatal for motorcyclists. Don’t tailgate, swerve at, or try to cut off motorcyclists and avoid this behavior is you are the one on the motorcycle too. One bad move could throw the driver off their bike, seriously hurting or killing them.
  7. Intersections are hot spots. When you approach an intersection, it’s important to be very aware of all the lanes of traffic. Left turns seem to be particularly dangerous for motorcycle drivers because they are hard to see and easy to hit. No matter which way you are turning, look around and make sure you know who is turning and the direction they are moving so that you can all stay safe.
  8. Don’t drive under the influence of anything. Numerous public campaigns have run for decades trying to make everyone aware of how dangerous drunk driving is for society. If you are impaired from any substance, reactions are slowed, behavior is erratic, and decision-making skills are compromised. This makes it harder to drive around a motorcycle with different maneuvers than a normal vehicle. If you are driving a motorcycle, driving while impaired is even more dangerous because one small jerk or swerve can have terrible consequences. Stay safe and stay alert.

 

4 Safety Tips for Driving in the Fog

4 Safety Tips for Driving in the Fog | Swerve Driving School

When you leave for work in the morning and the conditions are foggy, do you know what to do? Driving in the fog limits your visibility, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home. Here are four tips to help you drive safely in the fog.

1. Slow Down.

Posted speed limits are determined for roads that are dry, clear, and well lit. Do not try and drive your normal speed limit on any road in the fog. No matter how confident you feel, you are unable to see pedestrians, animals, and even other vehicles well enough to stop if something is in the way.

Black ice is common in fog because of the flash freeze it creates, so driving slow helps to keep you in control of the vehicle. Leave for work or your appointment early enough that you won’t feel rushed and can take your time to slow down and drive safely.

2. Stay focused.

Pay close attention to the road and anything you see in your surroundings. Turn down the music, hang up the phone, and limit all distractions.

Keep yourself in the correct lane by paying close attention to the lines on the road. If possible, use the solid, white line on the right because it is the easiest to see. Be careful not to drive too closely to the cars in front of you, giving them plenty of space in case they slam on their brakes.

3. Light the way.

Keeping lights on will help you see the road better if you know which lights to use. Many vehicles are equipped with fog lights, which are ideal for use in foggy conditions, as the name implies. If you don’t have fog lights, turn on your low beam lights.

Avoid using your regular or high beam headlights. These options increase the glare because the light reflects off the water in the air, and back to you. This decreases your visibility, which is the opposite of what you need in the fog.

4. Get off the road.

If the fog is super thick and you can’t see anything at all, pull off the road. Don’t ever just stop in the lane of traffic or sit on the shoulder, because other cars won’t be able to see you and might hit your vehicle.

Instead, pull off any main roads and into a parking lot. Turn off your lights so that other drivers don’t get confused and think that they are in a driving lane. The fog usually dissipates after the sun comes up and warms the air.

 

If you are not comfortable driving in the fog, it is always okay to stay off the road. Whether you are heading to work or starting to head home, find an option that helps you feel comfortable. It is intimidating to drive in the fog if you haven’t done it before. Try asking a friend or co-worker for a ride if possible.

Just remember that getting to your destination safely is the main goal. Your driving will reflect your goal if you can keep calm and follow these safety tips.

Relying on Your Senses (Other than Sight) When Driving

Relying on Your Senses Other than Sight When Driving | Swerve Driving SchoolThe five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) are all important to accomplishing daily tasks. Other than taste, the senses are important to help drivers stay safe on the road.

Sight is obviously crucial to driving, helping you see the road, hazards, signs, and signals. The other senses might not seem obvious, but they are important too.

Hearing

This is the second most important sense to operating a vehicle. The roads are full of sounds that help you navigate around town safely.

For instance, other cars honk their horns to help alert you to a changed traffic signal, a potential danger ahead, or if you are about to collide with each other. This one sound is so powerful that it makes all the surrounding drivers look around and assess conditions.

There are many other important sounds you will hear as a driver. Here are just a few more examples:

  • Emergency vehicles: You often hear them before you see them, which helps you pull over and get out of the way.
  • Railroad crossings: When a train is approaching, they often blow their whistles to alert drivers to their arrival. The railroad crossing arms are usually equipped with a machine that makes a sound to add another alert of the incoming train.
  • Brakes: When drivers push the brakes of their car really fast and hard, they make a specific, squealing sound. Hearing this sound should cause you to look around and notice any problems around you, including an accident happening around you or even an animal in the road.
  • GPS: If you are driving somewhere unfamiliar, you need to listen to the directions being given to arrive at your destination safely.
  • Mechanical functions: If you hear funny sounds coming from the car, it’s important to take it to a mechanic. Some sounds alert you to serious mechanical problems.

The ability to hear is important to helping you stay safe on the road. Make sure your radio or podcasts aren’t so loud that they drown out the sounds around you.

Touch

The ability to touch in the car is important to operating your vehicle safely. Finding the necessary buttons and dials gets easier the more familiar you are behind the wheel of that car.

Instead of needing to look at the dashboard to find volume dials, radio stations, headlights, blinkers, and windshield wipers, you learn to find them by feel. This helps you concentrate on the road and your surroundings.

Another way that touch helps you drive better is that you become familiar with the feel of a car. Certain problems with the tires, like a leak or an alignment problem, pull your car to the side. If you know the feel of your car and keep your hands placed properly on the wheel, you are aware of potential problems, but also have better control of your vehicle.

Smell

While smell might not be used as much as the other senses, it is still important to make sure your car is running well. Certain mechanical problems only send a smell into the air. A few examples of smells are:

  • An overheating engine
  • Leaking gas or oil
  • Fumes coming into the car
  • Brakes that are too hot

Recognizing these scents help you to know how to treat the problem.

 

Using your senses while driving might seem like a lot of things to pay attention to, but they become second nature the more you are behind the wheel. Utilize these abilities to help you stay safe on the road.