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.

3 Steps to Take Before Turning Right on Red

3 Steps to Take Before Turning Right on Red | Swerve Driving School

Most intersections in the United States allow drivers to turn right while the light is red. This is one way that traffic flows keep going and lines of cars from getting too long. Before you turn right on red, there are three critical steps to make sure you are doing it right and staying safe.

1. Always stop behind the white line

At every intersection, there is a white line. This is a point for drivers to know where they should stop at a red light. Ideally, this keeps the intersection clear for other drivers to move around and see better. The white line is also placed with enough space for pedestrians to have ample room to walk in the crosswalk and be seen by all drivers.

Stopping at the white line is required for all drivers, including those who want to turn right. When approaching the intersection, stop at the white line before proceeding to make sure that you are ready to complete the next two steps.

2. Take time to observe

The biggest reason that drivers need to stop behind the white line is to give them time to observe. If you are stopping properly, you will take time to look around. There are three main things to look for while stopped:

  • Signs– not every intersection allows you to turn right when the light is red. It is important that you look around at the posted signs to make sure you aren’t breaking the law. Others require a special signal specifically for drivers turning right. Don’t turn if this light is red since it means there are others with a green turn signal.
  • Pedestrians– Whether they are in the crosswalk already or getting ready to cross, pedestrians have the right of way. Do not drive into the crosswalk area if you see people there. It is illegal and creates a potentially dangerous situation for them.
  • Oncoming traffic- Stopping allows you to wait until there is an opening for you to pull in without slowing down traffic.

It doesn’t take long to look for these things while stopped, especially once you become experienced. Each one is very important and rushing through the intersection puts a lot of people in danger, including yourself.

3. Proceed with caution

Once you have taken time to observe, make sure you approach the turn with caution. Bicyclists are difficult to see and can quickly come up behind you. Pedestrians might try to run in front of you to cross before the light changes. Vehicles further up the road from you might be turning right or left into the lane you’re trying to enter. These situations are all common scenarios that happen fast if you are not paying close enough attention.

Once you turn into the lane, speed up to match the flow of traffic to prevent any other problematic situations.

 

Making the right-handed turn with these three steps will help you complete a successful move while avoiding any incident, injury, or lawbreaking.

Decreasing Distracted Driving in Washington

Decreasing Distracted Driving WA | Swerve Driving School

One of the biggest problems faced by drivers right now is driving distracted. Cellphones have become such a problem, that several states have outlawed their use while operating a vehicle. The newest member of the club is Washington State.

After passing the Driving Under the Influence of Electronics Act, many agencies allowed officers to give warnings to driving with devices for the first six months. This was used to spread awareness to drivers that soon they won’t get away with the offense.

On January 23, six months after the Act was passed, the grace period ended, and officers started issuing citations. From January 1-23, 746 drivers were fined for using devices.

Distracted Driving on the Rise

The problem has become more concerning every year, with the rate of distracted driving increasing 32% between 2014 and 2015. In 2015 alone, there were 3,477 people who died across the nation in distracted-driving incidents.

While many believe this problem is exclusive to the group of teenager drivers, that just isn’t true. Drivers using their cellphones have been found in every age group, which makes this all more concerning to lawmakers. It isn’t just cell phones either. Drivers are distracted using many different devices, including the following items banned under the Act:

  • Cellphones
  • Tablets
  • Laptops
  • Personal gaming systems

These devices are all banned when in an active traffic situation, including stopped at a red light or stop sign because drivers should still be paying attention to the road. If any driver needs to use one of these listed devices, it is important to pull off the road. There are instances excluded from the Act, of course, including

  • Making 911 or other emergency calls
  • Calls between transit employees and dispatchers

The Goal

The hope behind the Act is that drivers will limit devices to only a one-touch use of the phones. It is okay to use a dashboard cradle for the phone so that drivers can use navigational apps or to talk hands-free by enabling the blue-tooth function technologies available.

Too many drivers don’t realize that looking away from the road for something fast, like checking a text, switching a playlist, or finding a phone number can distract them for several hundred feet of road. While many people think they’re okay, they create a dangerous situation for themselves and anyone around them.

The price tags on distracted driving aren’t small either. Officials are hoping that they can use the high prices to make the public aware that distracted driving is a serious problem. The first offense will cost drivers $136 and if a second offense occurs within five years, the price increases to $234. However, the biggest price paid is by the friends and family of those involved in accidents from a distracted driver.

 

Lawmakers and officers are hoping that this new law will help make the roads safer for everyone. By creating the law, spreading the message, and charging serious fines, there is one clear, simple message- if you’re driving a vehicle, put away the distractions.

Holiday Drinking and Driving

Holiday Drinking and Driving

When most people think about the holidays, they think of family, friends, giving, good food, and lots of traditions. The holidays are also marked with alcohol and long drives to parties and gatherings.

Unfortunately, these two instances combine more often than most people think and create a lot of tragedy during a season that is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year. To help keep everyone safer on the roads this year, here is a special invitation to do your part.

What:

Don’t drink and drive. While it’s understandable that some people need to drink to survive family or work holiday functions, it’s never a good idea to drive when you are intoxicated. By speaking up to others and being mindful of your own actions, you are keeping yourself and those around you safe.  Choosing to not drink and drive can save lives.

Who:

Everyone who gets behind the wheel of a car. If you plan on drinking, the best thing to do is make some important decisions beforehand. If someone in your group is willing to skip the drinks, designate them to be the driver. If no one wants to miss out, arrange to have a friend or family member come pick you up, call you an Uber, taxi, or another driving service. Don’t take a risk driving with alcohol in your system and don’t let anyone else either.

According to Mother’s Against Drunk Driving, between 10-20% of alcohol consumed is done by underage drinkers. Also, the highest percentage of impaired drivers were between the ages of 21-24. These two numbers help society know that parents need to be involved, educating their children on keeping them and those around them safe.

When:

Anytime, but especially during the holidays. There is an increase of both minor and fatal collisions related to alcohol during this time of year. The days that most incidents occur are:

  • The days before and after Thanksgiving
  • Christmas Eve
  • Christmas
  • New Year’s Eve/Early New Year’s Day

Statistics also show that the later it gets in the day, the more traffic stops there are from impaired driving. When one of these holidays falls on a weekend, the numbers also increase.

Where:

No matter how far you plan on driving, it is dangerous to operate a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. Make a pact with those you love that you will do your part to decrease the number of drunk drivers on the road.

Why:

Impaired driving is a fast way to ruin the holidays. Not only can the driver become hurt or killed, they also hurt or kill other innocent people too. The consequences of these actions are not always at the forefront of someone’s mind when they take a drink.

By giving everyone a reminder of the dangers of drunk driving, hopefully, people will take the initiative to plan before drinking to keep the roads safe. We want to make sure everyone has a safe holiday season and gets to celebrate with their family and friends.

Safe Traveling During the Holidays

Safe Traveling During the Holidays

The holidays are a time of year when families get together from all over the country. If you are going to be one of the many people taking a road trip, it is important that you get to your destination safely. Here are the do’s and the don’ts of driving during the holidays.

The Do’s

Car maintenance. The first thing you should do before hitting the road is take your car to a trusted mechanic. They should check all the fluid levels, run diagnostics on your vital systems, and recommend any major work that needs to be done.

If there is anything recommended within the time frame of your vacation, make sure it is done before leaving. This will help avoid any major problems while you are driving.

Plan ahead. The roads are going to be full of travelers, meaning you might have to deal with long bouts of traffic. Make sure you plan for these situations and give yourself time to reach your destination.

Keep a phone charger in your car so you won’t run out of battery. Load your phone up with everything you need, like apps for directions, an app for your insurance company for roadside assistance, and with phone numbers for hotels and family members.

Pack for emergencies. Beyond packing your bags, you should make sure you pack the car for emergencies. Keep medications up by the glove box for easily locating them when needed. Make sure you have extra snacks, water bottles, and blankets for emergencies. Have a first aid kit handy in case of injury.

It’s also a good idea to keep a spare credit card and some cash in the car somewhere, in case your wallet is stolen or misplaced.

The Don’ts

Drive impaired. While most people know not to drink and drive, there are other ways your driving is impaired that you can avoid. The main two are:

  • Driving drowsy. If you notice you are getting tired, stop for snacks, switch drivers, or pull over to rest for a bit before hitting the road again.
  • Texting and driving. Just avoid using your phone at all while driving. If you need to text, make a call, look up something, or anything else on your phone, hand it to a passenger, or wait until your next stop.

Break the Law. Getting a ticket while on vacation is a terrible memory and a big hassle. Make sure you don’t drive too fast and always wear your seatbelt.

Push the limits. Know when you can pass a rest stop and when you can’t. If you have little passengers in your car, make sure you stop and let them use the restroom. Pulling off a road to let them go isn’t always safe or wise.

Also, know the limits of your gas tank. Don’t pass a gas station thinking you’ll fill up at the next one if you are running low on gas. It may turn out that you are on the side of the road with an empty tank, far from any gas stations.

If you can follow these do’s and do not’s of traveling during the holidays, you can enjoy your time with family. After all, it is the most wonderful time of the year.

A Guide to Winter Car Maintenance

A Guide To Winter Car Maintenance

Maintenance on your car during the winter is different than the summer. Most mechanics recommend doing different inspections and changes for both winter maintenance and summer maintenance. A lot of the maintenance you can do yourself, or hire a mechanic. Either way, here are some of the maintenance items to do to help get your car ready for winter from the top to the bottom.

Windshield Wipers

The windshield wipers on your car are only recommended for six months. Unfortunately, most people don’t think about changing their windshield wipers until they are in the middle of a storm and see their wipers aren’t doing a great job. Switching out your blades in the fall will help keep your windshield clean and your visibility great all through the cold season. Don’t forget to switch out the blade on your rear window too.

Two more things that affect visibility are ice on your windows and a dirty windshield. To keep visibility great is to make sure your windshield washing fluid is full. That way, when another car on the road splashes dirty slush on your car, you won’t be left with thick, dirty streaks. Also, make sure you have an ice scraper and snow brush in your car. This way, you are prepared for ice on the windows or coming out of the office to a snow-covered car.

Checking Fluids

The two most important fluids to check are the oil and coolant. These each serve a different purpose in your vehicle and are important to have at optimum levels during the winter.

  • Having the right amount of antifreeze and water mixture in your radiator will keep it from freezing.
  • If you live in an area where temperatures drop below freezing, most mechanics recommend using a thinner oil to protect your engine.

Both fluid levels are going to be different for each style and type of vehicle, so make sure you check the recommended levels, types, and mixtures in your owner’s manual or talk to a trusted mechanic in your area.

Battery

Cold weather reduces the capacity of your battery, which is why many people must replace them during the winter. Make sure your battery is ready for winter by inspecting the fluid, cables, and terminals. Also be sure to check the battery itself for anything like cracks or breaks in the casing. Check the voltage by either using a handheld hydrometer or, if you have the ability, check the voltage on your dashboard.

Tires

If you live in an area that gets cold, you may have noticed before that lower temperatures deflate tires a little. With low air pressure, your tires don’t get great gas mileage, but they also increase the risk you take on a slick road. Make sure that you check and adjust to the recommended PSI level for each tire.

While you check the pressure on each tire, take some time to inspect the tread. Balding tires increase the danger on a wet road because they don’t have enough grip.

Depending on the area you live, consider switching all four tires to snow tires or all-season tires. This will help you have more control and grip on the road as you drive in wet and slippery conditions.

Finishing It Off

Once you have finished inspecting your tires, you have completed our general winter maintenance checklist. If you have noticed funny noises or problems with your car, make sure you take it to the mechanic so that you can get them resolved quickly. Don’t let a problem continue during any season, but during the winter you risk being stranded in the cold.

Halloween Safety Driving Tips

Halloween Safety Driving Tips

Whether you are planning on celebrating Halloween with a fun night of trick or treating, attending parties, or attending haunted venues, it’s a risky night to be out. Whether you unintentionally cause harm to others or get in an incident, there are dangers lurking on Halloween night. Here are five tips to keep your night a little less scary and a lot more fun.

Tips for Safe Driving

  1. Keep your headlights on. Many people don’t turn their headlights on until it’s dark, but visibility starts to decrease in the early evening hours. It is also hard for other drivers and pedestrians to see your vehicle, or distinguish if it’s running, so just keep your lights on. Many cars automatically have lights on, but if yours isn’t one of them, turn them on early.
  2. Drive slower than the posted limit. Speed limits are not required driving speeds. When there are crowds around, or a lot of children present, it is better to drive slower than the posted speed. In these situations, people are likely to step or run out in the road in front of your car, causing an incident if you are distracted or driving too fast.
  3. Park in marked spots. Haunted venues draw big crowds on Halloween night. If you are planning to attend, look for a marked spot to park your vehicle. This not only keeps your vehicle safer from getting hit, but it also prevents creating another hazard for other drivers.
  4. Never drive intoxicated. There are plenty of Halloween parties that offer alcohol. If you are planning to get behind a wheel, don’t drink or do drugs. If you are underage, you shouldn’t be participating in these activities anyway.
  5. Give yourself extra time to get there. To avoid unexpected delays or driving too fast to meet up with friends, give yourself extra time to get where you need to go.

Tips for Parents and Kids

  1. Stay on the sidewalk. Too many cars are going through the streets, not watching for pedestrians. It is always safer to stay on the sidewalk. If you are on roads without sidewalks, make sure you walk on the shoulder of the road, rather than in the middle.
  2. Don’t wear masks. Plenty of costumes come with a mask, but they limit how much you can see when you are walking around. If you have kids with masks on, or you’re wearing one yourself, take it off while you are walking around. This is especially true when crossing streets.
  3. Know where your kids are going. If you have older kids and teens that go out alone, make sure you know the route they are taking. Teach them how to stay safe by not going inside houses, stay in a group, and that if they feel in danger, they should leave the area, even on Halloween. If your teens are going to a party, make sure you know the parents and see if there will be any drinking or other harmful behaviors going on.
  4. Wear reflective or glowing gear. Another problem with so many pedestrians is that they are hard for drivers to see. Make sure that everyone has some sort of reflective gear or glow sticks on them. This also helps you keep track of your group more easily.
  5. Stay in groups. The term “safety in numbers” applies to Halloween too. The more eyes that are available to keep track of children and watch out for dangers, the better.

Remember to be safe and have a Happy Halloween!

Four Campaigns for National Teen Driver Safety Week

Four Campaigns for National Teen Driver Safety Week

National Teen Driver Safety Week for 2017 is October 15-21, which means states across the nation are gearing up for awareness. The purpose of this week is to encourage parents to have conversations with their teen drivers about how to stay safe behind the wheel of a car.

This was started to decrease the number of teens dying and causing incidents on the roads through the greatest dangers for teen drivers: alcohol, seat belt use, distracted driving, speeding, and the number of passengers in the car. Here are four useful campaigns are available to help address these issues.

1. 5 to Drive

Materials provided in the “5 to Drive” campaign highlight five post-it notes that parents can leave on the dashboard of their child’s car or just use as a reminder to discuss these issues. The five notes are:

  1. No Cell Phones
  2. No Extra Passengers
  3. No Speeding
  4. No Alcohol
  5. Buckle Up

These resources are available to parents, caregivers, teachers, and any safety advocate. Infographics are provided as well as supplemental information for teaching effectively and showing the dangers each presents. For parents, this helps establish ground rules for allowing their teen access to the vehicle.

2. Teens and Seat Belt Use

The focus of this campaign is strictly to address the benefits of wearing a seatbelt. In 2013, more than half of 15-19-year-olds who were killed in crashes weren’t wearing a seat belt. This is more than just about the driver too. Unfortunately, 90% of younger passengers in the vehicle (ages 13-19) aren’t restrained if the driver is not.

3. U Drive- U Text- U Pay

Distracted driving is a danger to everyone on the road and the biggest distraction is the cellphone. Texting and driving can take your eyes off the road for five seconds at a time, which is enough time to travel the length of a football field when driving at high speeds.

This campaign is focused on more than just teen drivers and focuses on men and women. It provides materials from law enforcement and focuses on consequences of distracted driving, which is gaining recognition as a serious and deadly problem across the nation.

4. The Ultimate Party Foul

While drinking and driving is never safe, this campaign focuses on teaching 16 and 17-year-old drivers that underage drinking and driving is “the ultimate Party Foul”. Laws mandate a minimum drinking age to help save lives, but people often disregard them. In 2013, 29% of drivers killed under the age of 21 had alcohol in their systems. This campaign provides useful materials for communities, parents, and schools to encourage drivers of all ages not to drink and drive.

 

If you have not taken the time to talk to your teen driver about these common, serious problems, National Teen Driver Safety Week is a great time to find events and resources in your area. Not finding anything in your area? The Traffic Safety Marketing (TSM) government site has more resources available, including fact sheets and talking points, sample news releases, and downloadable infographics to help you.