Safer Parking: What You Probably Didn’t Know

Many drivers don’t give a second thought to parking, but it is an important part of being responsible.
While most people don’t consider it dangerous to park, there are risks to not parking correctly. The
National Safety Council shows that more than 50,000 crashes happen every year in parking lots and garages. This adds up to more than 60,000 injuries. So, what are the dangers involved in parking and what can you do to avoid them?

Common Parking Dangers

Parking lots and garages are areas where people drive slower. There are a lot of pedestrians, people pulling their vehicles out, and limited visibility. Unfortunately, it is also the time that people let their guard down because of the slower speeds. 

Some of the most common dangers include:

  • not looking for approaching drivers when pulling out of a spot
  • driving too fast
  • not watching for pedestrians
  • getting aggressive over parking spots

Another common, serious problem is being distracted. When surveyed by the National Safety Council, many drivers said they are comfortable using their phones in a parking lot. Here are the activities they said they do while driving in parking lots and garages:

  • Making phone calls (66%)
  • Programming a GPS (63%)
  • Texting (56%)
  • Using social media (52%)
  • Sending/receiving email (50%)
  • Taking pictures or watching videos (49%)

These are big distractions when not pulled into a parking spot. Distracted drivers are dangerous at any speed, in any location. Even if you are stopped and waiting in line, it is important to still pay attention to the road. Staying aware of surrounding, being mindful of other drivers and pedestrians is essential to keeping everyone safe.

How to Avoid Dangers

Knowing common problems in parking lots and garages can help each driver be more self-aware of their behaviors and habits. It is also helpful to know what other drivers are likely doing to be on guard. These safety tips are always taught in new driver training courses, but they are important to review:

  • Always look around for oncoming traffic
  • Slow down
  • Watch for pedestrians, especially for kids who are shorter and may run out between cars
  • Don’t fight over a parking spot. Parking a little farther away only takes a few extra seconds and can be good exercise.
  • Keep your phone put away until the car is in park
  • Don’t cut through parking lots or parking rows. Stay in the driving lanes.

Other good safety practices are parking in well-lit spots for added safety at night. Lock your valuables in your trunk, or at least make sure they are out of sight. Keep your car locked so it is harder to take items. Before getting in your car to leave, walk around your car. Inspect the ground for anything that may puncture your tire.

Parking safely also has a lot to do with situating a car in the stall correctly. Try to get the car in the middle so everyone in the vehicle can get in and out safely without hitting a vehicle on either side. Pull all the way into the stall (without crossing the line) so your vehicle isn’t sticking out into traffic creating a hazard or making it harder for people to see around.

As a responsible driver, it is important to always be safe. Don’t let yourself get comfortable in slow speeds or are about to park. Be committed to safe practices getting in the car until you leave it.

5 Tips to Staying Safe in Intersections

Staying safe in intersections

Driving in intersections is one of the most dangerous areas for drivers. Yet, how many drivers go through multiple intersections every single day without a second thought? According to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 50% of all crashes happen in an intersection. Since it isn’t possible to avoid every intersection, here are five tips to navigating them safely.

  1. Notice your surroundings. The most important part of driving anywhere you are is noticing your surroundings. Staying vigilant from crashes requires watching all the drivers around you. There are intersections where every direction isn’t visible because of buildings, trees, and other cars. This is especially dangerous for pedestrians crossing because stopped vehicles can block a moving lane’s view of them. This is why about 44.1% of intersection crashes are caused by inadequate surveillance of surroundings.
  2. Don’t speed through. No matter how hard you might try to anticipate another driver’s moves, there will always be surprises. Approximately 8.4% of intersection crashes are from making a false assumption about another driver’s actions. If you are going fast, you will have less time to make an adjustment to another driver making an unexpected turn, lane switch, or stop. If the light has turned yellow, don’t speed up to get through before the light changes red. Instead of racing through an intersection, slow down a little or come to a stop if the light is turning red.
  3. Keep your distance. Don’t follow the vehicle in front of you too closely through an intersection. Since crashes are so common here, it makes even more sense to follow the common driving advice of leaving yourself a way to get out. This means always planning to have a way out if a crash happens in front of you. The extra space also gives you a buffer of time and space if someone pulls in front of you quickly. Even a few feet of space can make a big difference in avoiding a crash.
  4. Use your signal. The best way to let other drivers know your intentions is to use your signals. When turning or changing lanes, giving the other drivers enough time to plan for your change is the safest action. Don’t turn on signals too far in advance though or you will confuse the other drivers and cause frustration.
  5. Carefully enter intersections. The most dangerous times to enter an intersection are when the light has turned yellow or it has just turned green. As mentioned already, when the light turns yellow, too many people try to beat the light. When the light turns green, it is important to carefully enter the intersection, even though you have the right-of-way. There could be another driver still in the intersection, causing a crash when you pull out. With a four-way stop intersection, sometimes people coming from another direction run the stop sign. Always scan the intersection and traffic from the opposite directions carefully before pulling into the intersection.

When driving through an intersection, these tips can help keep you safe. Teaching your teen driver the dangers to watch for can also help them develop good driving habits in the intersection. Staying safe behind the wheel and doing your part to keep intersections safe is everyone’s responsibility.  

The Impact of Distracted Driving

Distracted driving

A car is a powerful machine that requires skill, training, and attention. One of the biggest problems facing drivers today is that many are distracted. Taking your eyes off the road or not paying attention to the road can have deadly consequences for you or someone else on the road. Many cities and states have turned their attention to helping combat distracted driving with more driver’s education and legislation.

Types of Distractions

Most people are busy and like to try and multitask. While cellphones have a bad reputation, they are not the only source of distraction for drivers. Some of the other common culprits distracting a driver’s attention are:

  • Eating
  • Drinking
  • Pressing buttons on the dashboard
  • Picking up something that was dropped
  • Passengers in the car

There are plenty of other distractions too, but the point is that there are all types of distractions that drivers don’t consider. Each is as dangerous as the next if it takes a driver’s attention away from the road. 

Consequences of Distracted Driving

A car traveling at 30 miles per hour will go 44 feet per second. This means looking away for 3 seconds for any reason allows your car to drive 132 feet completely unsupervised. There are many things that can happen in that much space, like a car pulling into traffic, a light changing, the vehicle in front stopping, or a child running into the road. If a driver isn’t paying attention, each of these can be dangerous for more than just the driver who is distracted.

To help emphasize the seriousness of distracted driving, many states have worked to make more consequences, including some of the following steps.

  • Most states have laws against driving while texting. 
  • Many states are working toward outlawing devices in the hands at all.
  • Other states have mandated graduated licensing laws that limit the number of passengers in the car while new drivers learn to drive
  • Devices have been created that can tell how recently a cellphone was used in an accident.
  • Police officers everywhere are watching more vigilantly for distracted drivers.

Each of these steps come with varying consequences in fines and harder sentences. Insurance carriers can also enforce their own consequences if a driver is ticketed with one of these offenses. If an accident occurs, it can also be expensive to fix or replace a totaled car.

The most serious consequences do not come in monetary form or tarnished driving records. Instead, they come from changing lives through injury or death. If a distracted driver doesn’t push the brakes at all when a vehicle or child is in the road, the impact can be fatal even at a low speed. Living with the fact that you have seriously hurt or killed another person is the hardest consequence of all.

Since distractions come in so many forms, it is important to always stay focused on the road. If something requires taking your eyes off the road, even for just a few seconds, pull out of traffic and come to a stop before dealing with it. No dropped item, text message, or button on a dashboard is worth the risk. 

The Cost of Aggressive Driving

The cost of aggressive driving

There are moments during driving that can make almost anyone angry; being cut off, sitting in slow-moving traffic, or even someone not turning when there is a large opening and the light is about to change. At the end of a long day or after a rough start to the morning, it’s hard not to react to these situations. Getting angry at another driver and acting on it in any way is aggressive driving. 

Aggressive driving, or “road rage” as it is often called, is more than most people think. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety did a survey where almost 80% of drivers admitted to feeling angry and showing aggressive behavior while driving. Some of the most common behaviors included:

  • Purposefully tailgating (51% or 104 million drivers)
  • Yelling at the other driver (47% or 95 million drivers)
  • Honking or displaying annoyance or anger (45% or 91 million drivers)
  • Making angry gestures (33% or 67 million drivers)
  • Trying to block a vehicle from changing lanes (24% or 49 million drivers)

These behaviors are each dangerous for the drivers themselves and others on the road. With so many news stories showing arguments escalating to physical harm or serious crashes from aggressive driving, it is no wonder that nearly 90% of the drivers surveyed said they felt aggressive drivers are a “serious threat to their personal safety”.

Consequences of Aggressive Driving

Whether you think you are an aggressive driver or not, there are subtle aggressive actions some drivers don’t realize they are doing. These include:

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Driving too closely to the vehicle ahead
  • Not letting others merge
  • Using angry or obscene gestures

These behaviors can lead to car crashes or escalate some already high emotions. The most common consequences of aggressive driving involve getting a ticket and fixing a car. If you crash or get crashed into, there is autobody damage done that needs repair. If the insurance company sees a ticket for aggressive driving, they can raise your rates. Some more serious consequences include tickets/fees from a police officer, possible jail time, injury, and death. 

Fixing the Behaviors

There are always going to be other drivers on the road that make you angry. People drive differently, are in a hurry, or are just learning to drive. Creating a plan before you start driving is a great way to help yourself to not overreact when something does happen. Here are three tips.

  1. Create space. The best way to proactively avoid an angry driver is to give yourself space around your vehicle. This gives you enough time to react if another driver does something suddenly. It also gives you better visibility to watch what is going on around you. Having a little extra space can also help change lanes faster if someone around you is behaving aggressively. 
  2. Keep an eye out. Be careful on the roads and make sure you are looking around for aggressive drivers. They are often traveling too fast and in an erratic way. Watch for anyone with dangerous behavior and steer clear of them, if possible.
  3. Be a courteous driver. If you knew someone was dealing with an emergency or it was a new driver in training behind the wheel, would you be more patient and forgiving if they did something that made you angry? No one can ever truly tell what another person is dealing with, so assume the best instead of the worst. If someone does do something intentionally and they are acting aggressively toward you, fight the need to retaliate. Calm down and avoid making eye contact or engaging with the other driver.

Be Safe

Driving safely means staying calm behind the wheel. Remind yourself that it isn’t appropriate to react aggressively. Remember that the goal is to get yourself and any passengers to your destination safely and alive. Even if you feel your aggressive actions are justified, it is better to just calm down and keep going on your way.

Two Reasons to Take Advanced Driver Training

Reasons to take Advanced Driver Training

Vehicle commercials often give the message that having the latest technology in the car is the best way to stay safe on the road. While this helps consumers feel drawn to those vehicles, it isn’t a completely accurate idea. What makes people safer on the road is better driving skills. No technology in the world can function like the brain and stop all dangerous behaviors from happening, but education can make a big difference. Here are two of the main reasons that advanced driver training makes all the difference.

Better Techniques

Drivers who take an advanced driver training course are learning about bad behaviors behind the wheel. Basic drivers training classes cover what the laws are and how to operate a vehicle. While they do their best to teach all these areas, they do not spend as much time teaching a driver defensive techniques, like looking ahead to anticipate other driver’s moves, how to maneuver a car most efficiently and safely, or how to correct the most common driver errors. This may make the biggest difference since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that more than 90% of car crashes are caused by basic driver errors.

Learning correct behaviors and having the skills to anticipate problems can make the biggest difference in driver safety. Knowledge is power, helping drivers feel more confident behind the wheel and more empowered to handle emergency situations. Knowing how to maneuver a vehicle is only part of teaching someone to drive. Staying safe on the road has larger repercussions for all drivers.

Save Money

Taking an advanced driver training course can save you money in the short- and long term. Many insurance companies will offer a discounted rate for new drivers when they take a defensive driving course. This is because these drivers are more prepared to operate a car and generally drive safer. Saving money with a new driver is a big deal since these premiums are often quite expensive.

Some insurance companies also offer a discounted rate on insurance to adult drivers who go and take an adult driving class that teaches these same skills. Learning these skills once a driver has experience on the roads gives them more context to remember the material taught.

A way to save money in the long term is by preventing car crashes. When a driver is responsible for a car crash, there are several different financial obligations they pay, including traffic tickets, car repairs, and increased insurance premiums. By avoiding car crashes, drivers can save a lot of money in the long term.

Start on the Right Foot

Education is the first point on the road to licensure, so why not take the most effective classes? For parents looking for the best driving classes for their teens or adults learning to drive, choose the option that increases safety and saves money overall. Investing in the best way to stay safe on the road isn’t in vehicle technology, it is in advanced driver’s training courses.

5 Tips to Driving Safely in the Winter

Swerve - 5 Tips to Driving Safely in the Winter

More than 70% of the roads in the United States experience snowy conditions at some point in the winter. However, when it comes to driving in winter weather, many drivers forget the basics.

Keeping yourself calm and driving with appropriate maneuvers can help you reach your destination safely. Here are five tips on how to drive in the winter, safely.

1. Decrease Your Speed

Driving in the snow and ice require a slower speed. When road conditions are wet or icy, it is hard for the tires to get traction from the road surface. This makes controlling the car more difficult and dangerous.

Hitting a patch of ice going 65 miles per hour will have a higher risk of injury and vehicle damage than driving on ice at 40 miles per hour.

If you do slip on ice, it is also important to remember to stop pressing the gas, but do not push the brakes. This can cause you to spin or lose control of the car completely.

Keep a firm grip on the wheel and wait to feel a more secure grip before pushing on the gas again.

2. Leave Space

Rather than leaving the customary space between vehicles during a storm, leave a little extra room.

Having to stop quickly is harder on wet and snowy roads. Vehicles will slide if the road is slippery, requiring that extra space to come to a stop or moving when another vehicle loses control.

It is also helpful to have space so you can more clearly see your surroundings better.

Don’t only watch the cars immediately surrounding you; watch everywhere so you can anticipate slippery spots, hazards in the road, or traffic coming to stop up ahead.

3. Plan for Emergencies

Occasionally, drivers will slide off the road or get stranded if their car gets stuck in a snowbank. Having some emergency supplies in the car can help a lot.

Keep snow chains and tow straps in your trunk. Always have extra water, snacks, and a blanket or two in the car.

Try to always let someone know what route you are taking and what time you expect to arrive too. That way, if you do get into trouble, someone knows where to start looking for you.

4. Be Seen

During winter storms or slushy conditions on the road, visibility is decreased. Help other drivers on the road always see you by keeping your headlights on.

Avoid lingering in any driver’s blind spot for longer than necessary.

When turning, always use your turn signal. Sometimes snow covers up turn lanes, so it can be hard to know where you are going without them.

Also, try to use main roads as they are the priority for cities to keep clear. This way, if you get stuck or slide off the road, other drivers can see you and help.

5. Give Yourself Time

One of the best ways to keep calm on the road is to leave earlier than usual. This will give you more time to reach your destination.

When you are less stressed about it, you can drive slower and take fewer risks at intersections or passing.


Winter weather isn’t always an extreme situation, but it is good to be prepared. If a big storm is expected, just avoid driving altogether, if possible. This helps keep you safe while also decreasing the total number of vehicles on the road for those who do need to be out driving.  

If you do have to be out in the storm, be sure to remember these basic tips so you can feel more comfortable and drive with confidence in winter conditions.