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

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4 Common Reasons for Car Crashes & What You Can Do to Avoid Them | Swerve Driving School

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 a 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 makeup
  • 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 takes 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.

2. Driving While Impaired

Being impaired means being weakened or 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.

3. 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 trying to get some sort of payback.

These aggressive movements put everyone around them at risk and often result in dangerous situations, including a car crash.

How to Avoid It:

Keep your cool when driving. Don’t overreact when someone does a stupid move in traffic. Instead, try to be patient and assume it was unintentional. If someone is getting aggressive with you, call the police. Don’t try and handle it yourself or add more aggressive behavior.

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

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Riding Passenger: A Survival Guide for Parents with a Teen Driver | Swerve Driving SchoolMost 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 to scare them (or you as the parent) too much. Even if your driver feels ready to jump right into 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

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Share the Road with Motorcyclists | Swerve Driving School

May 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.

Always check your blind spots

Cars and motorcycles all come equipped with rearview 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.

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.

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.

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.

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 of what hand signals are used for different turns as well.

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.

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.

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

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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

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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.


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.


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.


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

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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

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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.