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.

Driving Safety in School Zones

Driving Safety in School Zones

Students are returning to school everywhere across the United States, and since school zones, crosswalks, and school buses are most frequently used during the school months, it is important drivers remember the laws involving them. Keeping students safe should be everyone’s priority.

Schools and Speed Limits

Areas surrounding schools often experience heavy amounts of traffic around school start and end times. With so many children walking home or running to vehicles, it is important to drive at a slower speed. Pay special attention to the following areas:

  • School Zones: Often marked by flashing lights on a speed limit sign, you should slow down. Most areas require driving no faster than 20 miles per hour, but there are areas that require you drive under 15 miles per hour.
  • Drop Off and Pick Up Lanes: Schools have designated areas for dropping off and picking up students. When in these areas, drive less than 10 miles per hour and be ready to brake if a student runs out from between cars. If you are going to need to park for more than a small moment, park in a parking stall to keep the lanes clear for others.
  • Neighborhoods: Remember that a speed limit is the fastest you should be going, not the required speed. In neighborhoods and other areas outside of the marked school zone, go slow and watch out for kids. It only takes a small distraction for the child to not pay attention and step into traffic.

Laws for Crosswalks

While crosswalk laws don’t change during the school year, they are more frequently used. In more dangerous intersections or roads with higher amounts of pedestrians, cities will use one of the following options:

  • Crossing Guards
  • Brightly Colored Flags
  • Flashing Lights

In these situations, drivers are required to yield to the pedestrian. Stop when someone is in the road and wait for them to cross completely before proceeding. Keeping the intersection clear helps ensure the pedestrian’s safety because they are more clearly seen from every direction.

Stopping for School Buses

School bus drivers are tasked with getting children to and from school safely. They stop at designated areas to pick up and drop off students. When a school bus stops, they pull on a lever that opens the door and starts signals on the front and back of the bus. A stop sign also extends out by the driver. These signal to other drivers that they need to stop. This helps keep students safe who may be running to catch the bus in the morning or crossing the street to get home in the afternoon.

Safety and Enforcement

Keeping students safe is a community responsibility. While you may be in a hurry to get to school, take your own kids to school, or get to work, it is important to slow down and pay attention to the laws. Since the consequences for breaking these laws can lead to serious injury and death, they have stiffer penalties. Plan to leave a little early and drive at a slower speed. Being a little late is better than causing serious injury or death to someone else, getting in a crash, or having to pay an expensive ticket.

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.

7 Important Tips for Driving at Night

Driving at Night Tips

7 Important Tips for Driving at Night

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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. Think proactively

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.


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.