Category Archives: Driving Safety

Managing Tech Safely While Driving

Managing Tech Safely while driving blog

Most car manufacturers are trying to make cars with more safety features for technology use. Drivers use all kinds of technology including GPS apps, music players, and making phone calls. There are many safety features built into cars now including lane drifting warnings, automatic braking systems, and even automatic parking. To help with technology use, other features have been built into cars too. Here are some ways you can be a responsible driver and manage technology better in a car.

  • Program before you go. One of the main reasons people like to use their phones while they are driving is because of the GPS capabilities. Trying to view a map, look at directions, or put in an address while driving is distracting. When a driver cannot focus on the road, they are putting themselves, their passengers, and others on the road at risk. Using technology responsibly means putting the address into the phone before going and then turning on audible directions so that you do not have to keep looking at your phone. If you need to do anything with your phone, pull completely off the road.
  • Use the features on the phone. Many phones have a “do not disturb” setting that can be used while driving. Some are automatic settings when in a car and others are turned on manually. Find how it works on your phone and it will prevent alerts from coming through. This keeps your focus on the road. Don’t worry though- people can still get through in an emergency. For some systems, calls can still come through if someone calls more than once or an alert is given that tells the caller to press a certain number to push the message through.
  • Use the features in the car. Another thing that cars have is the ability to sync your device to the car’s system. This helps you keep your hands off your device by allowing you to use voice controls. When a call comes through, pushing a button on the wheel can bring the call through the speakers so it is as if you are talking to a passenger. Voice controls also allow making calls and reading texts to you.
  • Recommit yourself to not text and drive. There are so many things that can distract a driver from focusing on the road. Even with all the safety features built into phones and cars, drivers are still choosing to text and drive. Even with all the driver’s education, campaigns, and reminders to not text and drive, people still do it. Recommit to not texting and driving.

People have become so accustomed to having technology assist them. Using technology to help combat the problems technology brings may seem ironic, but it is the best of both worlds. It helps everyone use their devices but in a way that keeps everyone on the road safer. However, there is no adaptation or technological advancement that can make people act responsibly. In the end, the best way to be responsible behind the wheel is to choose to focused.

The 5 Most Dangerous Highways in the United States

When it comes to safety, not all highways are driven equally. There are some highways in the country that are considered more dangerous than others. Value Penguin, a research and analysis organization, studied the data from crashes of country’s highways between 2010 and 2016 to determine the country’s most dangerous highways. Using the three factors of fatal crashes per vehicles miles traveled per capita, fatalities per crash, and the percentage of fatal non-vehicle crashes on each highway. Here are the top five most dangerous highways.

  1. US-93 Arizona. This highway covers a stretch of 200 miles that takes many drivers between Las Vegas and Phoenix. Between 2010 and 2016, there were 70 fatal crashes with 90 fatalities. While fatality numbers are not the highest out of all highways, they were the most significant when all the factors were considered. Most of these crashes happened on the section of road in Mohave County, Arizona.
  2. SR-9 Oklahoma. The SR-9 highway is a 348 mile stretch of road going east to west in central Oklahoma. It is the second longest highway in the state. During the time period, there were 50 fatal crashes with 60 fatalities. The highest number of accidents happened along the portion of road in Cleveland County, Oklahoma.
  3. US-160 Colorado. Many locals in Colorado know that Wolf Creek Pass is a dangerous, high mountain pass where many vehicles have crashed. The steep roads and many switchbacks are dangerous areas during much of the year. During the specified years, there were 99 fatalities in 80 fatal crashes. The most dangerous part of the road is the section that goes through La Plata County as a whole. 
  4. 1-5 California. California has many highways that run north to south and this one is nearly 800 miles, stretching from Oregon to the Mexican border. Even though it passes through many big cities, the most dangerous portion of the highway is through Los Angeles County, where traffic is heaviest. Between 2010 and 2016, there were 680 fatal crashes with 768 fatalities.
  5. I-10 Texas. Another highway that spans the length of a state, this one stretches from near New Mexico all the way to Texas-Louisiana border. It travels through several big cities, including El Paso, Houston, and San Antonio. With 585 fatal crashes with a total of 676 fatalities, the section with the highest fatalities is through Harris County.

Safe Driving Tips

The best way to stay safe on these highways and any highway is to stay vigilant. Pay attention to your surroundings by not being distracted. Remember all the basics from driving school; stay off your cellphone while driving and keep eating to a minimum while driving. Also keep alert by not driving drowsy or drinking and driving. Watch your speed and don’t engage in aggressive driving behaviors toward other drivers. And most importantly, make sure you and everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt.

If you are interested in learning more safe driver techniques, enroll in new driver training courses or take a review driving class. Keeping your driving skills sharp can make all the difference in staying safe on the roads. 

Drowsy Driving vs. Drunk Driving: Which is Deadlier?

drowsy driving and drunk driving blog image

Not getting enough sleep is a common problem for the average American. Being overly tired leads to all kinds of health problems, but it also leads to major problems on the roads. According to 2018 data from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, not getting enough sleep makes a driver four times more likely to crash than a driver who has slept from seven or more hours the night before. 

The Drunk Driving Equivalent

Since stopping drunk driving has been a point of interest and campaign for years, most drivers are aware of the dangers associated with it. While new drivers receive instruction on the dangers, the same level of attention hasn’t been applied to drowsy driving for the public. Most will acknowledge its danger, yet up to a third of those surveyed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety admitted to driving when they were dangerously tired in the last month.

The root of the drowsy driving problem is that people are too busy to spare time in their schedules to get enough rest. Looking at phones or screens right up until bedtime, trying to get too much done during the day, and not allocating enough time to sleep all contribute to drivers feeling overly tired. When starting on a long drive, drivers get relaxed and their body is finally not moving as much, leading to the body trying to get needed sleep.

When the body is overly tired, the reaction times slow down drastically, just like in a drunk person. Getting in the driver’s seat is extra dangerous in this condition. Plus, with being tired, sometimes the eyes will close for seconds or a person can nod off without meaning too, leaving the car uncontrolled. All it takes is a few seconds of being distracted or asleep for a serious crash to happen. Most responsible drivers would agree that it isn’t worth the risk.

Signs You’re Drowsy Driving

The biggest problem with driving drowsy is the same as driving drunk; drivers think they can push through and handle the situation. Most drivers who are overly tired think they can just push through the fatigue and get to their destination safely. Signs you are too tired to drive include:

  • Struggling to keep eyes open and focused
  • Frequent yawning
  • Drifting within the lane
  • Tailgating unintentionally
  • Feeling irritable and restless
  • Zoning out and missing signs or turns

If you notice that you are exhibiting these signs, it is time to pull off the road. Don’t try to push through it. Instead, wake yourself up by:

  • Parking in a safe place and walking or running around the car
  • Stopping and getting something to eat or drink, particularly something with caffeine if needed
  • Find a safe spot to take a quick nap

Taking a 20 to 30-minute nap might delay arriving at your destination, but it is worth the pause to make sure you get there safely. Since drowsy driving is just as dangerous as drunk driving, it is important to recognize your limitations. Do the responsible thing and take the necessary steps to keep everyone on the road safe.

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.