Keeping Your Teen Safe On Prom Night

The Dress, The Date, The Hair, The Music, and what to do after…all things that are on your teen’s mind before the infamous prom night.

Driving is usually not an important component in a teen’s mind, but for parents, it can be a big worry. Many parents often overlook the need to have honest discussions with their teens about safe driving and avoiding alcohol and drugs. Statistics show that prom and graduation season—the months of April, May, and June—are the most dangerous time for teens. One-third of the alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving teens each year occur during those months.

Here’s an honest and teen-friendly guide to sharing concerns with your teen for one of the most important nights of their adolescent career.

Many parents often overlook the need to have honest discussions with their teens about safe driving and avoiding alcohol and drugs.

  • Have a good time. Explain to your teen that you want them to have fun and enjoy themselves. Just don’t drink. Years from now, they will laugh when looking back at prom, but not if they don’t remember the night.
  • Relate it to your prom. Explain to them what you did right or wrong and what the consequences were. Don’t be afraid to tell them the truth if you made some bad judgment calls. This can only help them to feel that you are human and that you regret those decisions and don’t want them to make the same.
  • Remind them of their future. High school is a great time, but they have their whole future ahead of them. Don’t ruin that by drinking or doing drugs on Prom night or any night.
  •  Immature vs. Mature. Your teen may think that drinking or doing drugs and driving is what the grown-up thing is to do. Explain to them that is the most immature and irresponsible decision they could make. Being mature is about making the right decision and keeping your future in your sight.
  • Drive safe! If they are driving, make sure that they understand the responsibility of driving on Prom night. Share these six tips with your teen:
    1. Wear seatbelts.
    2. Don’t speed.
    3. Be a defensive driver. Not everyone on the road is going to be as safe as you, watch out for other unsafe drivers.
    4. Don’t drink or do drugs. This impairs judgment for driving and could potentially end in a fatality. If you do make a mistake or find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, call your parents immediately. They will respect you for being mature enough to see the danger and making the right call.
    5. Don’t ride with anyone who has been drinking or doing drugs. This takes your life out of your hands.
    6. Pay attention to the road while driving. Don’t get distracted with cell phones, radio, or passengers. Driving is a very important responsibility and shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Teenage drivers have the highest crash risk of any age group and it’s largely due to driver error. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics’, one in four crash fatalities involve someone 16 to 24 years old, nearly twice as high as other age groups. Don’t let your teenager be a statistic. Talk with your teen and communicate the importance of safe driving on Prom night and every night.

Your safety is number one to us. Stay safe wherever you choose to go on the road.

6 Reasons for Teens to Take Drivers Ed

For some teens, taking driver’s ed is a rite of passage that they assume they’ll undergo before they’re able to get their license. Other families, however, find themselves debating the value of driver’s ed for teens. If you’ve been on the fence about whether or not driver’s ed is the right decision for your family, consider the benefits of a professional driver’s education for new and teenage drivers. Accredited Driving School has outlined six primary reasons why most parents opt to enroll their teens in driver’s ed.

1. Driver’s Ed Can Lower Insurance Costs

Many insurance companies offer a discount for teens who have taken driver’s ed. The cost savings can really add up, especially if you were dreading the increase in your insurance premiums when you added your teen to the policy. Contact your insurance company to find out how much of a discount is offered.

2. Driver’s Ed Helps Teens Learn the Details

It’s been a long time since you learned how to drive. Chances are, you’ve forgotten many of the details that make up the driving process. Many driving tasks and habits are second-nature to experienced drivers, and remember to explain these processes to a new driver can be rather challenging. Driver’s ed teachers, however, have worked with teens for a long time. They know all the important details that go along with learning to drive, and how to express them in a way that’s sure to sink in for your teen. State-approved online driver’s ed courses are generally developed by driving instructors, and follow educational practices that help ensure that students can easily remember the material.

3. Some States Require It

Not every state requires driver’s ed in order for your teen to get their license. But for those states that do, it’s not just a suggestion: your teen has to get that important driver’s ed class somewhere. Those states that do require it have seen an increase in the safety and competence of drivers who took the class, which means that taking driver’s ed is a proven method to help teens drive more safely.

4. Teens Get More Experience

Let’s face it: you don’t have time to go driving with your teen every day. When they take a driver’s ed class, they will gain more experience with everything they need to know about driving. From a refresher in driving safety from someone who isn’t their parent to detailed lessons about how to handle harsh driving conditions, driver’s ed will offer your teen more information about how to drive safely.

5. Road Test Preparation

When your teen takes driver’s ed from a professional in your area, they’ll get the scoop on the driver’s license test: what they’re expected to know, how it will impact their test score, and what they’ll actually need to do in order to pass the driving test. Some cities, for example, require parallel parking in order to get a driver’s license. Other cities, where it’s less common, may require little more than a drive around the block. Make sure your teen knows what they really need to know before they get their license, instead of failing the test due to lack of experience with one crucial point — even if it’s a point they won’t necessarily use during the course of everyday driving.

6. Increase Your Teen’s Confidence

There’s nothing like going into a test with the sure knowledge that you’ll be able to pass it — and driver’s ed can provide that for your teen. It gives them the confidence to know that they can handle what happens on the road and the experience necessary to back it up. Good instructors will help build that confidence, preparing your teen for what they’ll face when they start driving.

If you want your teen to have professional instruction that will make sure they know everything they need to know, not only to take their road test but to increase their safety behind the wheel, driver’s ed is well worth the investment. Sign your teen up to give them all the benefits of that experience.

Helpful Tips for New Drivers

I remember the first day I passed my driver’s test. I felt like I was on cloud nine…invincible. I instantly thought about all of the places I was going to go by myself. No more asking my parents or friends for a ride – my ticket to being independent had finally come, and I was ready to take on the road like a pro! Handing the paperwork to the clerk at the Secretary of State was empowering. “This is it,” I thought to myself. “You are about to get your official driver’s license!” I made sure I looked my best for my photo (I even made them take the picture twice) and they said I would receive a hard copy of my license in the mail in 2 to 3 weeks.

Walking out that door with the authorization to drive on my own, I couldn’t stop smiling, I felt like a true adult. However, I was far from it. The truth is, I was only 16-years-old and had no idea the weight of responsibility that was on my shoulders now. I’ll admit for the first few months I was driving alone, I was a little scared. I would have to constantly keep rubbing my palms on my clothes because they would get sweaty and slippery on the wheel. If I got beeped at, I took it very personally and thought about what I could have done better. I made sure to make as little mistakes as possible – I didn’t want any of the other experienced drivers thinking I was a beginner at this! Eventually, it got better with practice and I became more comfortable with going on highway ramps, switching lanes and driving in urban areas.

If you have a teen that just passed their driver’s test or are currently in driver’s education, remember that this moment is an important, life-changing accomplishment for them. Even though you won’t be physically by their side when they’re behind the wheel, you can still offer them your support and driving wisdom beforehand. I know, it’s easier said than done. Looking back, I didn’t exactly listen to everything my parents told me when I was 16, but I must have retained something since I’m a pretty safe driver now!

Sadly, according to the CDC, vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. It’s scary and the last thing you want to imagine, so it’s important to make sure they’re truly prepared for driving.

Thankfully, you can guide your teen to ensure their driving experience is as safe as possible with these helpful tips:

  • Follow the speed limit. I know, it’s an obvious one. But when you go too fast, you have less time to stop or react. Speeding is one of the leading causes of teenage accidents. Another obvious and important reminder – always wear your seatbelt! According to the CDC, wearing a seat belt can lower the risk of death in car accidents by nearly 50%.
  • Make sure your seat is adjusted properly to your height. This is very important because if you can’t see through your rear view mirror, it can affect your driving. A good way to tell if the mirror is in the right spot is if you can see the headlights of the car behind you. Also, make sure to adjust your door mirrors on the drivers and passenger side.
  • Keep that windshield clean. Keeping your car clean isn’t just about style. In the morning and evening, light reflecting off a dirty windshield can temporarily blind you while you’re driving.
  • Always check your blind spot. This is something I can’t stress enough! Thoughtlessly changing lanes can lead to a dangerous situation, especially with smaller vehicles like motorcycles.
  • Use your turn signals. Whether you’re turning or changing lanes, you need to give the car behind you enough time to react.
  • Be cautious for aggressive drivers. If you do encounter an angry driver, back off and give them space on the road. The best thing is to stay calm to avoid getting into an accident with this person, or another driver on the road.
  • Don’t use cruise control in the rain or snow. Using this feature during heavy rain, snow or ice can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
  • Keep your hands on the wheel, and off your cell phone! Texting and driving has become the number one distraction for teens and adults. A text isn’t worth anyone’s life, and each time you take your eyes off the road, you put yourself and others at risk. Another reason to keep your eyes on your phone – you will get a ticket! According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, 47 states have banned text messaging for drivers. If you get caught, you may get slapped with a big fine, and get points on your driving record. A good way to avoid this is to keep your phone in a place that you can’t reach while you’re driving.

For the first few weeks, it might be a good idea to have your teen start off with small trips that are less than five miles away. It will help build confidence and allow them to get more comfortable with driving alone. If you’re still nervous, there are other options you can look into, such as a GPS tracking device or smart phone apps that will monitor the location and driving speeds. Plus, larger automakers have actually installed systems in their new models that allow parents to set limits on speed and drive time, so keep an eye out for those.

From everyone here at Accredited Driving School, good luck, and safe driving!

The Keys to Defensive Driving

As a defensive driver, you can avoid crashes and help lower your risk behind the wheel.

If you’ve been out on the roads, you know that not everyone drives well — but most people think they do. Some drivers speed aggressively. Others wander into another lane because they aren’t paying attention. Drivers may follow too closely, make sudden turns without signaling, or weave in and out of traffic.

Aggressive drivers have known road hazards, causing one-third of all traffic crashes. But inattentive or distracted driving is becoming more of a problem as people “multitask” by talking on the phone, texting or checking messages, eating, or even watching TV as they drive.

You can’t control the actions of other drivers. But updating your defensive driving skills can help you avoid the dangers caused by other people’s bad driving.

Skills That Put You in Control

Before you get behind the wheel of that two-ton frame of glass and steel, here are some tips to help you stay in control:

Stay focused. Driving is primarily a thinking task, and you have a lot of things to think about when you’re behind the wheel: road conditions, your speed and position, observing traffic laws, signs, signals, road markings, following directions, being aware of the cars around you, checking your mirrors — the list goes on. Staying focused on driving — and only driving — is critical to safe driving.

Distractions, like talking on the phone or eating, make a driver less able to see potential problems and properly react to them. It’s not just teen drivers who are at fault: People who have been driving for a while can get overconfident in their driving abilities and let their driving skills get sloppy. All drivers need to remind themselves to stay focused.

Stay alert. Being alert (not sleepy or under the influence) allows you to react quickly to potential problems — like when the driver in the car ahead slams on the brakes at the last minute. Obviously, alcohol or drugs (including prescription and over-the-counter drugs) affect a driver’s reaction time and judgment. Driving while drowsy has the same effect and is one of the leading causes of crashes. So rest up before your road trip.

Watch out for the other guy. Part of staying in control is being aware of other drivers and roadway users around you (and what they may suddenly do) so you’re less likely to be caught off guard. For example, if a car speeds past you on the highway but there’s not much space between the car and a slow-moving truck in the same lane, it’s a pretty sure bet the driver will try to pull into your lane directly in front of you. Anticipating what another driver might do and making the appropriate adjustment helps reduce your risk.

Eight Secrets of Super Driving

When you drive defensively, you’re aware and ready for whatever happens. You are cautious, yet ready to take action and not put your fate in the hands of other drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 90% of all crashes are attributed to driver error.

Following these defensive driving tips can help reduce your risk behind the wheel:

  1. Think safety first. Avoiding aggressive and inattentive driving tendencies yourself will put you in a stronger position to deal with other people’s bad driving. Leave plenty of space between you and the car in front. Always lock your doors and wear your seatbelt to protect you from being thrown from the car in a crash.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings — pay attention. Check your mirrors frequently and scan conditions 20 to 30 seconds ahead of you. Keep your eyes moving. If a vehicle is showing signs of aggressive driving, slow down or pull over to avoid it. If the driver is driving so dangerously that you’re worried, try to get off the roadway by turning right or taking the next exit if it’s safe to do so. Also, keep an eye on pedestrians, bicyclists, and pets along the road.
  3. Do not depend on other drivers. Be considerate of others but look out for yourself. Do not assume another driver is going to move out of the way or allow you to merge. Assume that drivers will run through red lights or stop signs and be prepared to react. Plan your movements anticipating the worst-case scenario.
  4. Follow the 3- to 4-second rule. Since the greatest chance of a collision is in front of you, using the 3- to 4-second rule will help you establish and maintain a safe following distance and provide adequate time for you to brake to a stop if necessary. But this rule only works in normal traffic under good weather conditions. In bad weather, increase your following distance an additional second for each condition such as rain, fog, nighttime driving, or following a large truck or motorcycle.
  5. Keep your speed down. Posted speed limits apply to ideal conditions. It’s your responsibility to ensure that your speed matches conditions. In addition, higher speeds make controlling your vehicle that much more difficult if things go wrong. To maintain control of your vehicle, you must control your speed.
  6. Have an escape route. In all driving situations, the best way to avoid potential dangers is to position your vehicle where you have the best chance of seeing and being seen. Having an alternate path of travel also is essential, so always leave yourself an out — a place to move your vehicle if your immediate path of travel is suddenly blocked.
  7. Separate risks. When faced with multiple risks, it’s best to manage them one at a time. Your goal is to avoid having to deal with too many risks at the same time.
  8. Cut out distractions. A distraction is any activity that diverts your attention from the task of driving. Driving deserves your full attention — so stay focused on the driving task.

For more information contact Accredited Driving School (765) 450-4758

Top 10 Driving Tips

Top 10 Safe Driving Tips

Today, we drive safer cars on safer roads; decades of advertisements and public information campaigns have made most of us safer drivers. Despite this progress, unfortunately, the number of vehicle accidents and fatalities nationwide is still quite staggering. Did you know that motor accidents are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of three and 34 in this country.

Improvements in technology will continue to help bring those numbers down, but the bottom line remains that most car accidents are the result of human error. The best way to reduce the risk of being involved in an accident is to practice safe driving behaviors. Whether you’re just learning to drive or you’ve been behind the wheel for decades, it’s a good idea to review some basic rules for safe driving. Listed below are the top ten safe driving tips.

1: Keep Your Vehicle Safe

Vehicle maintenance isn’t just an important way to extent your car’s life — it’s a major safety issue. Many maintenance issues are addressed by compulsory vehicle inspections. If your car is unsafe, the inspecting mechanic will let you know what you need to do to fix it. However, there could be a year or more between inspections, so car owners need to be aware of any potential safety issues and get them repaired before they lead to an accident.

One of the most common maintenance problems that can lead to a crash is improper tire pressure. Uneven tire pressure, or pressure that is too high or low, can impact performance or lead to a blowout — especially in high-performance cars or heavy vehicles. You can buy a cheap pressure gauge at any auto parts store and check the pressure against the recommendation in your owner’s manual. While you’re at it, you might want to rotate your tires to promote even wear and consistent performance.

Another key area is the car’s brakes. If you notice some “softness” in the brake pedal or feel a vibration when the brakes are applied, get them checked out by a professional mechanic. The brakes could be wearing out or you could have a problem with the car’s hydraulic system.

2: Practice Defensive Driving

This tip is pretty simple to understand if we just put the proverbial shoe on the other foot. Remember that one time when that jerk came flying down the street out of nowhere, totally cut you off and almost caused a huge accident? Don’t be that jerk.

Aggressive driving is hard to quantify, but it definitely increases the risk of accidents. Studies show that young male drivers are more likely to drive aggressively. An aggressive driver does more than just violate the tips in this article — they may intentionally aggravate other drivers, initiate conflict, use rude gestures or language, tailgate or impede other cars, or flash their headlights out of frustration. These behaviors aren’t just annoying, they’re dangerous.

Defensive driving incorporates the other tips shown here, such as maintaining a safe distance and not speeding, but remaining calm in the face of frustrating traffic issues is another major part of the concept. Accept small delays, such as staying in line behind a slower car instead of abruptly changing lanes. Yield to other cars, even if you technically have the right of way.

Defensive driving is not only safer, it can save you money. Many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who complete defensive driving courses.

3: Watch Out for the Other Guy

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how safely you drive. You could be driving the speed limit and obeying all traffic rules and someone else can crash into you. One good rule of thumb to use is, “Assume everyone else on the road is an idiot.” In other words, be prepared for unpredictable lane changes, sudden stops, un-signaled turns, swerving, tailgating and every other bad driving behavior imaginable. Chances are, you’ll eventually encounter someone like this — and it pays to be ready when you do.

It’s impossible to list all the possible things another driver might do, but there are a few common examples. If you’re pulling out of a driveway into traffic and an oncoming car has its turn signal on, don’t assume it’s actually turning. You might pull out only to find that turn signal has been blinking since 1987. If you’re approaching a junction where you have the right of way, and another approaching car has the stop sign, don’t assume it will actually stop. As you approach, take your foot off the gas and be prepared to brake.

Of course, being prepared requires awareness, so make sure you check your mirrors and keep an eye on side streets so you’ll know which other cars are around you and how they’re driving. Don’t focus only on the road in front of your car — look ahead so you can see what’s happening 50 to 100 yards (46 to 91 meters) up the road.

4: Don’t Follow Too Closely

Safe driving guidelines advise drivers to keep a safe distance between themselves and the car ahead. Drivers need enough time to react if that car makes a sudden turn or stop. It can be too difficult to estimate the recommended distances while driving and the exact distance would have to be adjusted for speed, so most experts recommend a “two-second rule.”

The two-second rule is simple. Find a stationary object on the side of the road. When the car ahead of you passes it, say “Only a fool breaks the two-second rule”.  You should complete the saying before you pass the same object. Once you have some driving experience and have practiced keeping this minimum distance, you’ll develop an instinct for it and know how close to follow without having to say it. However, even experienced drivers should say it now and then to make sure.

At night or in inclement weather, double the recommended time. I say it twice.

5: Be Extra Careful in Bad Weather

If you’re driving through fog, heavy rain, a snow storm or on icy roads, be extra cautious. Take all of the other tips presented here and make full use of them: Drive below the speed limit if necessary, maintain extra space between you and the car ahead, and be especially careful around curves. If you’re driving through weather conditions you don’t know well, consider delegating driving duties to someone who does, if possible. If the weather worsens, just find a safe place to wait out the storm.

If you’re experiencing bad visibility, either from fog or snow, and you end up off the side of the road (intentionally or otherwise), turn off your lights. Drivers who can’t see the road will be looking for other cars to follow along with the highway. When they see your lights, they’ll drive toward you and may not realize you’re not moving in time to avoid a collision.

6: Wear Your Seat Belt

Seat belts save lives. Worn properly, they prevent you from being thrown around the inside of a crashing vehicle or, worse, thrown through the windscreen and flung completely out of the vehicle.

Everyone has heard horror stories about people who were killed in bizarre freak accidents in which they’d have lived if only they hadn’t been wearing a seat belt. Even if these stories are true — many of them are exaggerations or urban legends — they’re also anomalies. In the overwhelming majority of car crashes, you have a greater chance of surviving if you’re wearing a seatbelt.

Even a low-speed crash can send an unbelted person careening into the dashboard or side window, resulting in severe head injuries or broken bones. At higher speeds, the possible fates of the unbelted occupant are gruesome: severe lacerations from being propelled through the windscreen; struck by other cars because you landed on the road; slammed into a tree or a house at 50 mph (80 kph). Sound scary? Then buckle up.

7: Don’t Drive Drowsy

If a driver is tired enough to actually fall asleep while driving, the results are predictable. Even on a relatively straight highway, a sleeping driver will eventually drift off the road. Trees, utility poles, ravines and bridge abutments turn this into a deadly scenario — and that doesn’t even take other cars into account.

You might think a few yawns are nothing to worry about, but just being a little drowsy is enough to increase your risk of getting in an accident. Responses can range from dozing off for a few seconds at a time to simply “zoning out” and losing all focus on the road. At highway speeds, one or two seconds of inattention can lead to disaster.

The solution is simple: Get a better night’s sleep! Make sure you get a solid eight hours of sleep, not just on the night before a long drive, but on a regular basis. Failure to get enough sleep every night builds a sleep deficit that can leave you drowsy and unable to focus. If you’re driving and feel the least bit groggy, take action immediately. Don’t think you’ll get any kind of warning before you fall asleep, or that you can fight it off. People can move from drowsy to sound asleep without warning. If this happens to you, have a friend take over behind the wheel, find a rest area where you can catch a few hours of sleep or take a break until you’re feeling more alert.

8: Avoid Distractions

In the UK it is illegal to use of mobile phones while driving. The chance of you being involved in an accident while using a mobile phone increases dramatically. If you think that talking and texting while driving isn’t a big deal, consider this: One researcher compared the reaction time of a 20-year-old driver talking on a mobile phone to that of a 70-year-old driver. What’s more, working a mobile phone behind the wheel can delay reaction times by as much as 20 per cent.

It isn’t just mobile phones that cause distractions, however. Eating, applying makeup, fiddling with electronic devices or interacting with passengers also diverts a driver’s attention in potentially deadly ways. Perhaps the best advice on driving distractions came from rocker Jim Morrison: “Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel.”

9: Don’t Speed

As the old public service campaign so succinctly put it, “Speed kills.” Research has shown that for every mile per hour you drive, the likelihood of your being in an accident increases by four to five percent. At higher speeds, the risk increases much more quickly.

For your average drive across town, driving even 10 mph (16.1 kph) faster is only going to save you a few minutes — while increasing your crash risk by as much as 50 percent. Even on long trips, the time you’ll save is inconsequential compared to the risks associated with speeding. Take your time and obey posted speed limits. If you really need to get there as fast as possible, there’s one fool-proof solution: Leave earlier.

10: Don’t Drive Drunk

More than 30 percent of all motor accident fatalities in the UK involve drivers impaired by alcohol. Most of those deaths could’ve been avoided if the drivers involved simply hadn’t gotten behind the wheel while drunk.

Alcohol causes a number of impairments that lead to car accidents. Even at low blood-alcohol levels, intoxication reduces reaction time and coordination and lowers inhibitions, which can cause drivers to make foolish choices. At higher levels, alcohol causes blurred or double vision and even loss of consciousness. Drunk driving isn’t just a terrible idea — it’s a crime

It’s easy to avoid driving drunk. If you’ve been drinking, ask a sober friend for a ride or call a taxi. If you’re planning to drink, make sure you have a designated driver. The mild inconvenience of taking a taxi home is nothing compared to the disastrous consequences of driving drunk.

5 Steps To Safe And Proper Turns

Turning is one of the basic maneuvers of driving and also one of the most important. When making right turns, left turns, and U-turns, always remember to do the following steps:

  1. Signal and slow down or brake before the turn

It’s important to signal before reducing your speed, as this is how you’ll warn vehicles behind you of your intentions of turning. Remember that you must signal 100 feet before turns in residential/city driving areas and 200 feet in highway/rural areas. When making a turn at an intersection without a stop sign or red light, it is not required that you come to a complete stop, but you’ll still need to slow down to a safe speed and be aware of other cars coming from all directions.

  1. Scan through the turn to the center of the lane

Scan the stopping area for potential hazards such as other vehicles, pedestrians, or debris in the roadway. Then, identify the proper lane before turning and aim for the center of the lane.

  1. Use the hold-and-turn method with lesser turns

With the hold-and-turn (sometimes known as the pull-push-slide) steering method, your hands do not cross each other. This method is only used in situations where you are traveling around a curve.

  1. Use the hand-over-hand method with sharper turns

As the name suggests, your hands are going to cross each other while turning the wheel. Hand-over-hand may feel awkward at first, but it’s the proper and safest method for making a turn. By having both hands on the wheel, you are prepared to make a quick, evasive action if need be mid-turn.

  1. Accelerate out of the turn when safe

At the halfway point of the turn, begin accelerating gently and you’ll feel the vehicle begin to straighten itself out. Don’t let go of the wheel totally, but gently hold on and allow it to move back to the centered position. Hand-over-hand method will require some practice.

It’s important for beginner drivers to learn and executive these steps in order to do a proper turn. Practice these techniques in a large, open parking lot, or another area without traffic or pedestrians. Interested in learning more? Call Accredited Driving School at (765) 450-4758

Winter Driving Safety Tips

When winter weather strikes, drivers face out-of-the-ordinary challenges when they get behind the wheel. Snow, slush or icy roads are involved in nearly one in four weather-related vehicle crashes.These conditions can make it harder for drivers to see, slow down and stop – all factors that can increase the chances of an accident.

If you must travel during winter weather, preparing your car in advance, knowing the forecast and driving based on road conditions are three key ways to help you drive more safely. Following are some winter driving safety tips to help you prepare for the elements – before you face them – on the road.

Preparing Your Vehicle

As temperatures start to drop, it’s time to make sure your car is stocked with a winter driving survival kit, including an ice scraper, a snow shovel and sand or salt. This way, you’ll be prepared if winter weather arrives while you’re away from home. It’s also a good time to check your tires to determine whether it’s time to replace them or whether you need snow tires.

A few habits to adopt regularly during the winter months can also help prepare you for a wintry drive. Make it a practice to keep your gas tank at least half full so you can run your engine and stay warm if you get stuck or stranded. Keep your windshield wipers in good condition and your windshield fluid reservoir filled so you can clear snow and ice from your windshield.

Watching the Weather

If you plan to travel when inclement weather looms, monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Do not check your phone while driving, and avoid all unnecessary distractions when you’re behind the wheel.

Driving for Winter Conditions

Before you leave the driveway or parking lot, take time to clear snow and ice off your car, including your windows, mirrors, lights, reflectors, hood, roof and trunk. Drive with your headlights on, and be sure to keep them clean to improve visibility. Use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic.

As you get on the road, remember that speed limits are meant for dry roads, not roads covered in snow and ice. You should reduce your speed and increase your following distance as road conditions and visibility worsen. Avoid using cruise control in snowy or icy conditions – you want as much control of your car as possible. Be cautious on bridges and overpasses as they are commonly the first areas to become icy, and avoid passing snow plows and sand trucks. The drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of them could be worse than the road behind.

Breaking Down or Getting Stuck

If you do venture out or are unexpectedly caught in a snowstorm and encounter problems, if your car is safely out of harm’s way, stay in your car and wait for help. You can run the car heater to stay warm for 10 minutes every hour, but make sure your exhaust pipe is clear of snow. There is a danger of carbon monoxide poisoning if snow blocks the pipe and enables the deadly gas to build up in your car. Open your window slightly to help prevent any buildup.

Remember, driving in winter weather can be challenging, even for experienced drivers. Slowing down, allowing increased time to come to a stop, wearing your seatbelt, devoting your full attention to the road and being aware of changing conditions can help you drive more safely. If your travel route takes you into remote areas with limited cell phone coverage, consider informing a third party of your travel plans that include your route and when you plan to arrive. This way, if you are overdue, first responders will know where to start looking. If you’re unsure whether it is safe to drive, consider waiting until the roads improve.

Top 15 Causes Of Car Accidents And How You Can Prevent Them

Car accidents are unfortunately very common in the United States and the majority of these road crashes are caused by human error. While some are relatively minor, thousands of lives are taken every year by these horrible car crashes. Because your life can be at risk if you drive in an unsafe manner, it is so important to drive carefully and follow all traffic laws.

However, just because you are careful does not mean that you can assure that all other drivers on the road will do the same thing.

Below are the most common causes of car accidents in the United States. Read carefully to find out what actions you can start taking today to prevent them

1. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving becomes a larger threat every year and has been the leading cause of car accidents for the past decades. Please pay attention to the road while you are driving. That means no calls, no texting, no eating, no reading, no grooming or application of makeup, and talking while behind the wheel.

2. Drunk Driving 
Drunk driving is one of the most dangerous causes of accidents in the U.S. and is the most deadly. If you have had anything to drink, take a taxi or give your keys to a sober friend. It is not worth the risk.

3. Speeding
Although it can be tempting to push the speed limit when you are running late, speeding is the second most common cause of accidents, so you should resist the urge and stay within the legal limits.

4. Reckless Driving
Changing lanes too quickly, speeding well over the limit, and acting aggressive on the roads can lead to horrible accidents. It is important to take your time and remain calm while driving to avoid needless accidents caused by simple carelessness.

5. Rain
While you can’t always avoid driving in the rain, the slippery, treacherous road conditions caused by heavy rains should be avoided when at all possible. If visibility is too low to drive or the roads seem particularly slick, you should pull over and wait until the storm passes.

6. Running Red Lights
It may seem obvious, but it bears repeating. Red always means stop. Even if it seems like no other cars are coming, you can cause a serious accident by running a red light and you will be breaking the law.

7. Night Driving
Lack of visibility makes hazards more difficult to see at night. Make sure that you are extra alert on the road at night, and use your full lights when on an abandoned road without streetlights.

8. Design Defects
Sometimes accidents are caused by flaws in the car itself. While you cannot always avoid this, make sure to take note of any recalls in the news and take your car in for regular maintenance.

9. Tailgating
There is never an excuse to get too close to the car in front of you, no matter how frustratingly slow they seem to be going. Keep a safe distance from other cars so that you will have time to react to sudden turns or uses of brakes.

10. Wrong-Way Driving/ Improper Turns
Everyone makes mistakes, but lapses in judgment while driving a car can cause horrible accidents. Be aware of street signs warning of one-way streets or other irregularities, especially in unfamiliar areas.

When people don’t get in the proper lane to make a turn, use signals properly, or follow traffic signals, accidents happen. Always look out for traffic signs and obey the proper right-of-way when you make a turn.

10. Teenage Drivers
Teens don’t have the experience to know what to do in unsafe conditions and that naïveté causes accidents. If you have teenagers, make sure that they have had a defensive driving course, do not permit cell phone use while driving, and limit the passengers they can take with them in the car.

11. Drugs: 
While alcohol is the culprit we usually associate with DUIs, drugs, including marijuana, prescription pills and other illegal drugs also cause terrible accidents. Never drive if you are under the influence of any drug, prescribed or not.

12. Potholes:
Potholes are very frustrating for drivers because sometimes they can’t be avoided. Try to drive around potholes to avoid damaging your car, when you can, but do not swerve into another lane if cars are coming. Despite the fact that there are some laws that could work in your favor, don’t take chances, especially with the heartbreaking car accident statistics from previous cases.

13. Tire Blowouts
If you get a flat while driving, it can cause you to swerve unexpectedly. Try to stay calm and keep control of the wheel while pulling over as soon as it is safe. Call for help if you cannot change the tire yourself safely.

14. Animal Crossings 
Anyone who has ever heard someone tell about hitting a deer knows that this is a big danger. For this reason, take extra caution when you see an animal crossing sign and always use your high beams when traveling in rural, woody areas where wild animals are common.

15. Construction Sites
Sometimes the way a construction zone is set up can be confusing. Follow the cones as well as possible and be aware of other drivers who may be confused. It is especially important to drive slowly in these areas to avoid even the smallest accidents from occurring.

Before you drive, think about how wonderful life is, your loved ones, your future and other great dreams you still have to achieve in life. Be proactive by taking precaution and removing all forms of distractions that might hinder your focus along the way. Life is worth living!

Car Maintenance Tips for Teens

Car Maintenance Tips for Teens

Finally having the freedom and ability to drive your own vehicle is great. But breaking down on the side of the road and potentially having to spend a lot of money on car repairs? Not so great. One way to avoid costly repairs is to focus on proper vehicle maintenance. Here are a couple basic steps to follow that will make your life as a car owner easier.

  • Read Your Driver Manual

    Perusing your driver manual is perhaps the easiest way to stay informed about your vehicle. All new cars come with this handy booklet, which contains information on all the features and operating parts of your car as well as proper maintenance tips (including the recommended type of oil, tire pressure, and more).

  • Inspect Your Car Frequently

    Keeping your car well-maintained isn’t necessarily rocket science. There are a few key inspections that you can do yourself to make sure your car is operating in good shape. Checking things like fluid levels (e.g., oil and coolant) and tire pressure can ensure the good condition (and mileage) of your car. Additionally, keeping tabs on the condition of basic equipment such as windshield wipers, tires, and headlights can mean a world of difference when it comes to driver safety. These small inspections take a short amount of time and go a long way towards keeping you safe.

  • Keep Up with Routine Maintenance

    Pay attention to the service recommendations from your car’s manufacturer. Usually, you will have to bring your car in for routine service every 30,000 miles in addition to regular oil changes and other checks. Follow the advice that you find in your driver manual – it gives you everything you need to know to keep up with maintenance. Your mechanic should check the condition of the air filter, brakes, belts, spark plugs, and fluids at regular intervals. Many send out reminders when it comes close to the time for new inspections, but don’t rely on this too much. If you’re still unsure of what needs to be maintained, the Internet is a powerful resource that can give you all the info you need to know about your vehicle.

Remember, even a well-equipped car can break down in certain circumstances. Be sure to keep the following in your vehicle in case of emergency:

  • A properly inflated spare tire and jack
  • Flares or reflective devices to alert other drivers of a breakdown
  • A flashlight
  • A tool kit (can be travel size)
  • Jumper cables
  • A first-aid kit
  • An empty fuel container (Never carry extra fuel in your vehicle. It is extremely hazardous)

In snowy or icy areas, you should also keep:

  • A small shovel
  • A blanket (consider something that is water resistant on one side)
  • An ice scraper/brush

11 safe driving tips that help prevent accidents

CARS ARE REALLY SMART THESE DAYS. THEY TELL YOU WHEN YOU CHANGE LANES, SELF-PARK, AND SOME EVEN AUTOMATICALLY BRAKE IF THE ROAD IS OBSTRUCTED. BUT EVEN WITH RECENT SAFETY ADVANCEMENTS, DRIVING IS STILL DANGEROUS.

Cars are really smart these days. They tell you when you change lanes, self-park, and some even automatically brake if the road is obstructed. But even with recent safety advancements, driving is still dangerous. Read on to discover what to do in driving emergencies and general sound driving practices. These safe driving tips can keep you and your car out of harm’s way.

1. Accelerate slowly if your tire explodes

When you feel a tire give out, your first reaction is to slam on the brakes. Not only is this a terrible idea if there is traffic behind you, but it could also cause your car to fishtail and lose control. According to Popular Mechanics, accelerate moderately to bring your car under control and then coast to slow down, coming to a stop off the side of the road with your hazard lights on.

2. Test your emergency brake regularly

The emergency brake seems like an unnecessary feature with most automatic transmission equipped cars. But what happens when you’re barreling down the highway and your brakes go spongy? You’re going to want that emergency brake. Your emergency brake works separate from your hydraulic brake system, using steel cables to pull the brake pads tight. Those cables can rust and deteriorate if not used occasionally. So the next time you park, pull on that unnecessary lever between the front seats.

3. What to do if your brakes fail

It’s one of those safe driving tips you hope you never need. And in reality, brakes rarely completely fail. It may feel like they’re gone, but if you really push hard on the brake pedal you should have something left. You can also slightly apply your emergency (or parking) brake. If a true emergency, downshift in a manual and, if an option, do the same on an automatic. You will remain safely in control of your car while slowing down. Slowly migrate to the side of the road with your hazard lights on.

4. Properly adjust side (wing) mirrors

We have all come to accept that there are certain blind spots on every car. Side mirrors just cannot capture everything. But what if I told you, they’re just adjusted inappropriately? To gain a better view, turn those mirrors so your own car is just out of view. Voila! No more cranking your neck before every lane change. And more importantly no blind spots!

5. Keep your headlights on at all times

Many newer cars have daytime running lights. This feature drastically improves your car’s visibility to other drivers and pedestrians. If you do not have running lights and the weather turns cloudy, rainy, or foggy pop on those headlights.

6. No tailgating

Remember that pesky 2-second rule your driving instructor kept reminding you about? Turns out he/she might have actually known a thing or two. Nearly 33% of all crashes are at least partially caused by tailgating and following too closely is illegal in most states. So keep some distance in front of you.

You’re not auditioning for The Fast and the Furious 17 (seriously, they’re still making these?).

7. Check your oil every two weeks (or sooner)

Back when gas station attendants filled the gas tank for you, they also checked your oil. This was not just done as a way to get extra tips. Driving with a low oil level or dirty, cloudy oil is extremely dangerous. Check your oil monthly, at the very least. Wipe your dipstick on a white cloth/rag/paper towel. Note any color other than amber or light brown. This is the most basic preventative maintenance everyone should practice.

8. Assemble a proper emergency kit

Even on short trips around town, an emergency kit can come in handy. Some basic items could save your life, or at the very least some precious time, especially if you live in a harsh climate.
What to pack:

Foam tire sealant | Flashlight | Jumper cables

Blanket | Kitty litter (for getting unstuck in snow/ice)

Industrial strength tape | First-aid kit | Basic tool kit

Reflective traffic triangles (place behind and in front of your vehicle if stopped)

9. Never drive drowsy

Driving might seem like an easy thing to do, but it becomes a bit trickier when you fall asleep. Drowsy drivers are responsible for over 72,000 car crashes and 800 deaths every year. If you find yourself blinking or yawning excessively, or if you cannot remember the last few miles, pull over immediately.

10. Don’t text and drive

We’ve all seen the commercials and ads about tragic outcomes from teens texting while driving. And they’re not just to scare you: texting and driving is a borderline epidemic. Over 40% of teens admit they text while driving. Just put that phone down when driving; it could save your life considering 1 in 4 accidents are caused by texting behind the wheel.

11. Most important safe driving tips: Give yourself ample time

This is one of the most overlooked safe driving tips. We all know that driver, weaving in and out of lanes, slamming on the brakes, riding two feet behind your bumper. That’s just an accident waiting to happen. Relax and let them zoom ahead.
And if you find yourself wanting to save five minutes off your commute by recreating a scene from Smokey and the Bandit, just know it probably won’t end well.