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California Vanity License Plates: Everything You Need to Know

California Vanity License PlatesGetting California vanity license plates is fairly simple. You can complete much of the process online for most designs and have your plates quickly after approval by the state DMV. There is a decent amount of selection available for vanity plate backgrounds, and you’re allowed to choose customized text as long as it doesn’t violate state requirements.

In California, vanity license plates are called Special Interest License Plates. Applying for a plate, no matter what type of plate you’re looking for, is processed through the same system. If you are getting a new plate, you’ll be filing an original application.

This article will take a look at application process for California vanity plates and will help you begin the application process.

Types of California Vanity License Plates

California offers a variety of charity and personalized specialty license plate choices. Charity and park plates represent public interest causes in California and part of your fees are donated for these options to selected nonprofits and funds. Personalized plates with custom phrases are also available. Special kids-themed plates are available with a select number of special character choices, too.

There are special interest plates and special plates–special plates generally have a functional purpose or recognize membership in a specific group, such as special plates for Purple Heart recipients.

Fees

Your fees will vary depending on the license plate type you’re seeking and the customization you need. These fees range from $0 to $103 for an original application. Renewal costs up to $83 per year. For some plates, fees are low-cost or free, such as the Disabled Person Parking Placard plate.

Fees are paid upfront when you apply and are nonrefundable, unless your design isn’t approved.

Where Does My Money Go?

If you’re applying for a charity plate, you can expect much of the fee to go the charity represented by the plate design. Non-charity plate fees usually go to the state.

Application Process

Here’s how to apply for California vanity license plates.

Most designs are available through the online application. There are also two different types of paper applications you can use, and these can be brought in directly to the DMV:

  1. the Special Interest License Plate Application
  2. the Special License Plate Application

The first application is useful for most vanity plates. The Special License Plate Application applies when you need a plate with one of these designs:

  • Amateur Radio
  • Antique Motorcycle
  • Congressional Medal of Honor
  • Historical Vehicle
  • Honorary Consul
  • Horseless Carriage
  • Legion of Valor
  • Pearl Harbor Survivor
  • Purple Heart Recipient
  • Press Photographer
  • Year of Manufacture Plate

Character Requirements

You can choose any combination of letters and numbers with a limit of six digits or seven digits, depending on the character length you need. Keep in mind, though, that California doesn’t allow you to use numbers to substitute for letters or use letters instead of numbers if it may be confused with another plate already in use. So, if “NICE” is taken, you can’t choose “N1CE” either.

Rejected Plates

California reserves the right to reject California vanity plates and also has a reporting system for people who see an already-approved plate that looks inappropriate. The state is concerned about plates that are in “bad taste” or offensive in some way, so the DMV tries to prevent approval of these designs. If your plate is rejected, your fees will be refunded to you.

Of course, the prospect of having your design rejected hasn’t stopped Californians from turning in all kinds of funny applications. The DMV actually has a panel of people who review plate applications and reject offensive plates–these folks then offer an explanation to the applicant for why the plates are rejected.

Just for fun, here’s a few entertaining examples:

  • “IH8 DMV.” The applicant’s explanation: none. The DMV: “I hate DMV–I think funny :) but “IH8DMV” is on record as unacceptable.”
  • “UPURAZZ.” The applicant’s explanation: “Upper Arizona.” The DMV: “Up your ass.”
  • “FKYOU 2.” The applicant’s explanation: “Find the kid in you two. Recently had a baby and I feel my wife and I found the kids in ourselves again.” The DMV: “Fck you, too.”

Ready to Apply?

If you’re ready to apply for a California vanity license plate, visit the DMV site and read up on the requirements (and check out the great designs available to you!). Even if you’re still in drivers ed, now’s the time to start thinking about it.

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How to Throw a Fun (And Safe) Beach Party in California

California beach partyThe Golden State offers plenty of great beaches. In fact, California has some 37,000 miles of ocean and lake shoreline! And now that it’s prime beach time, it’s time to call friends and family and pick a destination. Whether it’s Pebble Beach, Sand Dollar Beach, Salt Creek Beach, or Big Bear Lake, California’s scenic waterside retreats can’t be beat.

These are but a few of the best beaches California has to offer. Whatever your destination, one might make the argument that the best beach party in California is the one with the least “adventure” and the most “fun.” Speaking of “adventure,” we’re talking about breakdowns, accidents, and whatever takes the fun out of a beach party.

Automotive Tips for a Beach Party in California

It seems simple to toss your stuff in the car and drive off. Considering the importance your car plays in daily life and beach parties, it needs to be in good shape. Here are some tips and tricks for a day of fun in the sun.

  • Cooling System: Summer heat and traffic jams test your cooling system. Check engine coolant level and fix leaks. Pull over immediately if the engine overheats.
  • Window Shades: Solar shades prevent the greenhouse effect from turning your car into a sauna. Window tint is good, but solar shades are a good idea for the un-tinted windshield.
  • Fastest Way to Cool: Here’s a trick to flush out the hot air. Open all passenger windows about six inches. Open and near-close the driver’s door six to ten times. This force-flushes hot air quicker than air conditioning or simply opening windows.
  • Seat Covers and Floor Mats: Sand and sweat are not great additions to your car. Washable seat covers and full-coverage floor mats keep sand and sweat from soaking and embedding in the upholstery.
  • Air Conditioning: Open windows might be enough to cool off after a beach party in California, but not everyone likes the windows open. Have your air conditioning system checked by a professional. A new cabin filter ensures good air flow.

Many of these things you can check and adjust yourself in an afternoon, but a pre-trip inspection by a trusted mechanic is good insurance against possible beach-party-wrecking breakdowns.

Safe Teen Beach Party Tips

Taking the party on the road can lead to disaster. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) reports over 1,000 fatalities during the 100 Deadliest Days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, only involving teen drivers. Don’t end your beach party with a disaster, but keep these tips in mind:

  • Distractions: The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports distracted driving causes 60% of teen traffic fatalities. On the road, keep distractions to a minimum. A passenger can navigate, adjust audio and climate controls, and send and receive messages freeing the driver to focus on driving safely.
  • Nighttime Driving: Over a third of traffic fatalities involved teen drivers at night, according to AAA. Nighttime driving requires a different set of driving skills and higher perception. Choose a more experienced driver or consider staying until the next day.
  • Speed Kills: The faster you drive, the less time to react to changing road and traffic conditions. Teen driver inexperience further increases perception and reaction times, increasing the risk of a crash. The single best piece of advice is to simply slow down.
  • Illegal Substances: Drugs and alcohol are illegal for minors to consume, and they heavily impair judgment and driving ability, no matter how old or experienced the individual is. If the atmosphere changes to an uncomfortable one and you need a safe ride home, call your family or use a rideshare or designated driver service, like Dryver.com.

Are you throwing a beach party in California? Whether it’s your first beach bash or your 20th, we hope it’s a good one. These tips and tricks are just a few of the things you can try for a great party. See you at the beach!

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How to Throw a Fun (And Safe) Beach Party in Texas

How to Throw a Teen Beach Party in TexasWith nearly 3,500 miles of shoreline, Texas offers some of the nation’s best beach party destinations. School’s out, and it’s time for a beach party in Texas with old friends, new friends, or family. Head to South Padre Island, Boca Chica Beach, Mustang Island, or Rockport Beach, and you’re bound to have a great beach party in the Lone Star State.

Regardless of your ocean-side destination, the best beach party you can organize is one that is smartly planned, safe, and worry-free. Indeed, there are a variety of issues that could pop up unexpectedly and throw a wrench in your beach-going plans (like a vehicle breakdown that could prevent you from getting there).

Automotive Tips for a Beach Party in Texas

You could just throw some stuff in the trunk and head to the beach, but you know that cars are complicated and sometimes fickle beasts. To have a great beach party, start with these tips and tricks to keep your vehicle in shape:

  • Engine coolant: Engines and air conditioning generate heat, but a faulty cooling system could cripple your ride! Fix leaks and have your cooling system checked to keep it from overheating.
  • Greenhouse effect: Parked in the sun all day, the inside of your car will quickly soar over 100°F. Keep things measurably cooler with solar windows shades and window tint.
  • Seat protection: Sand and sweat are a fact of beach party life, but you can keep these from wrecking your car with washable seat covers and full-coverage floor mats.
  • Cooling off—returning to the car: The fastest way to cool off your car at the end of the day isn’t the turn on the air conditioning. Open the passenger windows a few inches, then open and close the driver’s door a few times to flush out the hot air.
  • Cooling off—while driving: On the road, not everyone likes the windows down, so have your air conditioning system checked by a professional and replace the cabin filter for good air flow.

Some of this you can do yourself, but a pre-trip inspection is a good idea if you aren’t mechanically-inclined. It’s great insurance against party-thrashing breakdowns, too!

Safe Teen Beach Party Tips

Most any beach party in Texas is a guaranteed good time, but just getting there and back can be risky. The Automobile Association of America (AAA) reports car crashes involving teen drivers typically result in over 1,000 fatalities, which occur during summer’s “100 Deadliest Days” on America’s roads.

Here are 4 factors to keep in mind as you drive to or from your beach party:

  1. Keep your attention away from unexpected distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that 60% of teen traffic fatalities involve distracted teen drivers. While driving, stay focused on the road—if the need arises, let a passenger send/receive messages, adjust the radio, or help navigate.
  2. Try to refrain from driving at night. The AAA also reports 36% of fatalities occurred when teens drive at night, which requires a slightly enhanced set of driving skills and more experience. Choose a driver with more experience or consider staying overnight.
  3. Speed limits are laws, not suggestions. Teen drivers have less experience judging and reacting to changing road and traffic conditions. Speed only makes it worse. Driving the speed limit is safer, and also gets better fuel economy, which is better for everyone!
  4. Say “no” to drugs and alcohol. Not only are most of these illegal for anyone younger than 21, they also heavily impair judgment and driving ability, no matter how old or experienced the individual is. If the atmosphere changes to an uncomfortable one and you need a safe ride home, call your family or use a rideshare or designated driver service, like Dryver.com.

Are you throwing a beach party in Texas? We hope you have a great time, and maybe we’ll see you there. If not, use these tips and tricks and share them with your friends, so everyone can have a great day in the sun.

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A Brief Look at Florida Traffic Laws for First-Time Drivers

Florida Traffic Law for First-Time Drivers

Ah, the Sunshine State. When it’s not hurricane season, it’s a great place to visit (or retire), a place we normally associate with crisp beaches, clear ocean, and bobbing sailboats.

But with more than 270,000 miles worth of asphalt, Florida is indeed a roadway-heavy state. And with more than 4 million tickets issued per year, there’s a lot of incentive to drive cautiously. But like every state, there are some less well-known rules to follow.

“One of the most obscure, yet commonly violated is our window tinting restriction laws. Florida Stature 316.2953 allows only a certain percentage of light reduction,” says Andrew Martin Abreu, an attorney for Jordan Law in Florida. “Florida is a state where if you are reversing and cause an accident, you are presumed to be at fault, although you can rebut this. This means that you are liable by virtue of reversing, so be careful.”

There’s more you need to know! Here’s a quick list to get you started with Florida traffic laws.

  • Buckle Up — Let’s start with one you should follow before you even leave the driveway: put on your seat belt. Everyone under the age 18 must wear a seat belt, but not if you’re an adult in the backseat. While it’s technically only the driver and front seat passenger who must legally wear a seat belt, everyone should strap in regardless. It will save your life.
  • Child Restraint Requirements — The driver is legally responsible for buckling up children. If the child is 3 or younger, they must be secured in a federally approved child restraint seat. Children ages 4 to 5 may wear either a safety belt or be secured by a child restraint seat.
  • Right on Red — This rule differs from state to state, but in Florida it’s legal to make a proper right-hand turn at a red light. However, make sure to make a full and complete stop at the intersection and check for cross traffic before proceeding.
  • Red Means Stop — Speaking of red lights, don’t run them. One, it’s extremely dangerous. And two, Florida is notorious for its red light cameras at intersections, and it’s likely you’ll pay the price.
  • Don’t Drink and Drive — This one’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s one drink or five, don’t get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. Same goes for prescription medication or other drugs, like marijuana. Florida has one of the toughest DUI penalties in the United States. DO NOT drive intoxicated.

“DUIs are an extremely serious crimes,” Abreu says. “So serious that the average case can cost between $6,000 and $10,000 in penalties imposed alone between probation, fines, classes, and interlocks, which are mandatory.”

  • Watch Out For Emergency Vehicles — In 2002, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush signed the Move Over Act into law, requiring drivers to move over to the next lane or at least slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit whenever emergency vehicles are stopped on the side of the interstate.
  • Avoid Aggression — Road rage can kill. If someone cuts you off, slows you down or otherwise upset you, don’t take it personally. Don’t tailgate or gesture rudely at drivers who may be annoying you. Focus on the road.
  • Don’t Leave Pets or People In Cars — It gets hot in Florida, so pay attention to that. In 2016, Florida passed a bill making it legal to break into a car to rescue a people or animals that have cruelly been left in the heat. If you don’t want a broken window or a stiff fine or worse, don’t leave a baby or a pet in the car.
  • Double Trouble — Traffic penalties in Florida double in construction zones or school zones. If you’re pulled over doing more than 30 miles above the speed limit in one of these zones, the fine is $555.50.
  • You Can Pay to Get around Easier — Like many states, Florida has a prepaid toll system that lets you get around much faster. To purchase a transponder or to learn more, go here.

If you have an emergency, you can dial *FHP on your phone and it will connect you directly with Florida Highway Patrol.

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How to Select the Best Car for Teen Drivers

How to Select the Best Car for Your TeenSo, your teen is ready for their first vehicle. As a parent, you understand the freedom that driving a vehicle supplies. You’re also aware of the fact that different cars bring different pros and cons, and some may not be the best choice for your son or daughter. So, what is the best way to direct you and your young driver’s shopping considerations? Keep safety top-of-mind. Consider these following factors when preparing to purchase the best car for teen drivers.

Identifying the Best Car for Teen Drivers

1. Everyone loves power

Let’s face it: cars that deliver optimum performance are downright fun. But they are best left in the hands of experienced drivers, individuals who have several years of driving behind them and appreciate the responsibility cars with robust horsepower supply.

When teens finish college and enter the world of work, they will have had years of driving experience behind them. That is when it is entirely appropriate for them to consider another type of vehicle.

2. Size (and weight) matters

The smaller the vehicle, the more likely your teen will be seriously injured in an accident. It does not matter if the vehicle comes wrapped in a safety cage, has 10 airbags or has driver-assist technologies, such as lane keep assist. What matters most is the vehicle’s size and weight.

Indeed, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) acknowledges the appeal of such microcars as the Smart ForTwo, particularly for cost and gas saving reasons. But IIHS tests and those conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) show that the law of physics prevails, especially when a small vehicle meets a larger object, such as a midsize car.

“We recommend that parents not consider vehicles smaller than midsize cars, or the typical small SUV – vehicles in these two classes are typically close to the same weight,” explained Russ Rader, Senior Vice President, Communications, IIHS.

3. Consider vehicle crash worthiness

Beyond size and weight, there is another factor to consider: crash test scores. The IIHS, for example, rates most cars based on several factors, then assigns an overall rating. These factors include front, side, roof strength and head restraints. The NHTSA also assigns scores, although it does not go as deep as the Institute with its ratings.

Certain recommended models achieve the Institute’s Top Safety Pick or better designation, while all must have electronic stability control, which helps a driver maintain control of the vehicle on wet surfaces and curves. A suite of airbags, including side airbags, is also a must when considering the best cars for teen drivers.

4. Know your budget

Budget considerations are a tremendous factor in any purchase decision. Fortunately, choosing a used vehicle does not necessarily mean making compromises to find something you can afford.

To that end, the IIHS searched the Kelley Blue Book database for “Best Choices” vehicles starting under $20,000 and “Good Choices” vehicles for under $10,000. What they found were dozens of acceptable vehicles costing as little as $2,000, or well within the budget of most consumers.

Practice Safe Driving Habits

Finally, as parents, we must always practice what we preach when behind the wheel ourselves. A 2014 survey concluded that some parents need much work: Some even try to call their teens even though they know they’re driving, and teens with parents who partake in distracted driving are up to four times as likely to do the same. Become a model driver with these 3 ways to sharpen your safe-driving skills.

You’ve already begun researching the best car for your teen driver. Why not check out the best insurance options as well? Head over to DriversEd.com’s Car Insurance Resource Center to learn more about keeping your insurance rates low, the difference between learners permits and licenses as they relate to insurance costs, and even sign up for a free car insurance quote.

 

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Driving Position Safety: Tips for Women

Driving Position Safety: Tips for WomenIs the position of your driver’s seat putting you in danger? A study has shown that female drivers wearing seat belts are 47% more likely than men to be seriously injured in collisions because of their smaller stature and preferred driving positions.

Airbags can deploy at speeds of up to 200 mph! If you’re too close to the steering wheel during a collision, you could get seriously injured. Sitting in a proper driving position can help you make sure your vehicle’s safety systems are protecting you—not putting you in danger.

If you’re on the petite side, it can seem tough to find a comfortable yet safe driving position, but a few simple adjustments can help you keep a proper distance from the airbag.

How to Adjust Your Driving Position

Here are some tips on proper driving position based on NHTSA recommendations so that you can be safer when you’re behind the wheel. Just remember: the best way to stay safe is to avoid accidents in the first place by being a good defensive driver.

1. Tilt your steering wheel down.

Adjust your steering wheel so it points at your chest, not your head or your neck.

2. Move your seat backward.

Move your seat back as far as you can while still comfortably reaching the pedals. You should be at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, from your breastbone to the center of the wheel.

3. Recline the back of the seat slightly.

If you’re still too close to the steering wheel after moving your seat back, try reclining slightly. If that makes it harder to see the road, try raising your seat or placing a firm non-slippery cushion on the seat. Still closer than 10 inches? You may want to consider pedal extenders.

4. Keep your hands at 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock on the steering wheel.

The NHTSA now recommends that all drivers keep their hands positioned on opposite sides on the steering wheel. This is a more comfortable and stable steering position, and it also keeps your hands clear of the airbag.

5. Always wear your seat belt properly.

Seat belts save lives and prevent injuries. For your seat belt to be effective, it’s important for you to wear it properly. Adjust the seat belt height so that the shoulder strap lies flat against your chest, not on your neck or under your arm. The lap belt or lower strap should be snug across your hips.

Driving Position Safety Tips for Pregnant Women

Driving Position Safety: Tips for WomenYour seat belt is your baby’s first car seat. When worn properly, it can keep both you and your baby safe. Follow these 6 tips to get the perfect position.

  1. Lift your belly up and ensure the seat belt is low and falls on top of your thighs
  2. Pull seat belt upward, over your shoulder, to make sure it has a snug fit
  3. Make sure the seat belt falls between your breasts
  4. If possible, tilt your steering wheel slightly upward
  5. Keep your seat as upright as possible, as reclining may affect how the lap belt presses on the uterus during a crash
  6. Push your seat as far back as possible, and comfortable, to give distance between you and the air bag

Create a Family of Defensive Drivers

You’ll need strong, safe driving skills to raise a family of defensive drivers. Sign up for our two-hour One More Second® Defensive Driving Course and study up on the best tips and tricks of the road, while learning how to prepare for all the surprises it can bring. The course is perfect for parents preparing to teach their teens to drive, or retrain your bad habits and learn ways to instruct your children, when the time comes.

 

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Texas Vanity License Plates: Everything You Need to Know

Everything You Need to Know about Vanity Plates in Texas

Getting a vanity license plate in Texas is generally a straightforward process. What you’ll specifically need to do depends entirely on the type of plate customization you’re looking for. Through the Texas DMV website and the Texas site at MyPlates.com, you can research specific plates and learn more about your options.

In this article, we’ll review some of the basics you’ll need to know as you choose and register Texas vanity license plates.

Types of Texas Vanity License Plates

Texas offers an almost endless number of different options to customize your license plate. You can choose from specialized charity plates, occupation and job-related plates, military plates recognizing different branches of service in the armed forces, college and university plates, athletic team plates, theme plates, special design plates, and much more. Customizing the background and text is another option. With so many choices available, you’re likely to find a style available that reflects your personality, interests and needs.

Beyond vanity plates, some Texas personalized plates actually fulfill important functions. For instance, you can request a disability permit plate if you have proof of a permanent disability. Texas vanity plates recognizing Purple Heart recipients, plates for vehicles transporting cotton, and a variety of other types of functional plates are available. These choices require other documentation that you’ll need to submit to state authorities first (usually, this is your local county tax assessor-collector’s office).

Fees

How much you’ll pay depends entirely on the type of Texas vanity license plates you’re interested in, level of personalization, and the message you choose. Fees include only the personalization (vehicle registration fees are not included in the price), and you’ll pay more to keep your choice for a longer period of time. Your selection could be free or it could cost you a hefty sum depending on what you’re looking for.

For instance, disability plates without added customization are free, while while plates sold at auction on MyPlates.com sometimes cost thousands of dollars. (In fact, the most expensive plate to date sold for $115,000 in 2013. It was a Texas A&M custom vanity plate with the letters “12THMAN.”) Typical fees are $30 for a charity plate, $50 for a personalized background only, $150 for one year use of a six-letter custom text and $195 for seven letters. To keep your plate longer or customize it further, expect to pay more.

‘Where Does My Money Go?’

Charity plates donate a portion of the proceeds you pay. Most other Texas vanity license plates have fees that go toward the Texas general revenue fund, so when you pay for a customized plate or purchase rights to a plate at auction, you’re paying directly toward services provided by the state to Texans as a whole.

Application Process

Most vanity plates will probably require a visit to MyPlates.com, but a moderate selection is also available through the Texas DMV website. As you review your choices, note any special application requirements that apply to that type of plate. Keep in mind, too, that the DMV reserves the right to reject any plate you apply for.

Speaking of rejection, Texas has seen her fair share of funny and inappropriate vanity plate applications. In the summer of 2013, the plate “HUMPIN” was turned down by the state. Others, like “FATKID,” “LSUSUX,” “O HELL,” and “BUMBUM” also made an appearance. While these vanity plates never actually made it onto vehicles, they must’ve made for an interesting day at the office when state employees had to respond with a “NO” to each of these applicants.

Designs

Excluding something inappropriate or text that’s already taken, you have tons of different designs and combinations to choose from. Most of these options can be customized online. MyPlates.com designs can also be personalized with help from customer service, if you’d like.

Character Requirements

To customize the text on a plate, you’ll be asked to see first if a specific combination of text is available. Six-letter and seven-letter plates are allowed. Six-letter plates must have one letter at least (the rest can be numbers). Seven-letter plates can use either letters or numbers.

Ready to Apply?

If you’re ready to apply for a Texas vanity plate, visit the Texas DMV website and start your application (plus check out the awesome plate designs and options available).

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DriversEd.com’s 5 Family Road Trips to Take in 2018

DriversEd.com's Best Family Road Trips of 2018What will you do with your two week’s vacation with the family? There are generally three schools of thought regarding a summer vacation: Staycation (home), destination (elsewhere), and exploration (road trip). We’re all about learning here at DriversEd.com, so our favorite road trip is the exploration kind, as opposed to staying put or jetting overseas. It’s the best way to enjoy our national parks, beaches, mom-and-pop shops and diners, and the country’s diverse cities.

Instead of traveling with a certain place in mind, think of the road trip as visiting hundreds of destinations. Here, we’ve gathered just a few family road trip ideas across the United States.

5 Family Road Trips to Take this Summer

1. Alaska Highway – Unadulterated Natural Beauty

Let’s start with maybe the most difficult road trip you’ll ever encounter, at least on pavement. There are three ways to get to Alaska, the “Last Frontier”: air, sea, or land. By land, there is but a single highway that will get you across the Alaska/Canada border, the Alcan Highway. Wherever you start in the United States, once you cross the border into Canada, you’ll have to wind your way to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, Alaska Highway Mile 0.

From Dawson Creek, just head north – there are no alternatives. Indeed, for some 1,400 miles, you’ll enjoy scenic vistas, mostly untouched by man, and drive hundreds of miles past blink-and-you’ll-miss-it “towns.” Still, there are good spots to pull over to sleep for the night to take a nap, as well as lodging along the way. Plan for at least a week, and be sure to stop in Sign Post Forest, Watson Lake, Whitehorse, and Banff National Park and Jasper National Park. The biggest challenge will be making sure your vehicle is in shape, carrying spare parts and extra gas, and entertainment for the kids.

2. Coast to Coast – Interstate 90

If it’s the open road that calls to you, but you’d rather be somewhat closer to civilization, the coast-to-coast trip, on Interstate 90, is the nation’s longest interstate highway. At just over 3,000 miles, it will take a good couple of weeks to travel it, but that mileage and time doesn’t include detours, and we suggest taking as many as possible! Located in the northern half of the country, I-90 connects Boston, MA, and Seattle, WA.

I-90 passes through 13 states and hundreds of attractions, such as the New England Aquarium, Old Sturbridge Village, Pokagon State Park, Legoland Discovery Center, Circus World Museum, the SPAM Museum, Devil’s Gulch Park, the Corn Palace, Wall Drug Store, Mount Rushmore National Monument. Notable cities along I-90 include Boston, Albany, Chicago, Sioux Falls, Madison, Toledo, Butte, Seattle, and Spokane. The biggest challenge here might be boredom, which is why we suggest plenty of detours.

3. Old Route 66 – A Trip through History

Old Route 66 is a classic road trip along a highway that was decommissioned in 1985, which makes it perfect for those seeking a nostalgic road trip down memory lane. This classic status is confirmed as you visit restored gas stations, classic car museums, historic post offices, and vintage diners. Over 2,500 miles long, Route 66 crosses eight states, from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA. As with all road trips, side-trips abound, such as Death Valley National Park, Amboy Crater, Grand Canyon National Park, and Las Vegas.

Route 66 is a great combination of things to see and open road. The biggest challenge on Route 66 might be twofold: First, sweltering summer and desert temperatures will test your vehicle. Second, deciding which side-trips not to take will test your resolve, because they could easily extend your trip beyond your vacation time.

4. Utah Grand Circle Tour

You don’t have to cross state lines to have a great road trip. One shining example of this is the Utah Grand Circle Tour, featuring 11 days of beautiful national parks and great cities. It’s the perfect combination of natural wonder and arts and entertainment, not to mention great food!

This road trip covers six national parks and several state parks. Canyons, sunsets, rock formations, mountains, and mountain meadows are going to give you one singular challenge. The only question you need to know the answer to is, “Is my camera up to the task?” Pick up a travel guide, National Parks Pass, hiking boots, and extra batteries.

5. Great River Road National Scenic Byway

MississippiRiverBluffsThe Mississippi River is the nation’s second-longest river, about 100 miles shorter than the Missouri River, one of its tributaries. The Great River Road National Scenic Byway travels through 10 states along “The Big Muddy,” a trip through American history and culture. This road trip runs about two weeks and 1,400 miles, along which you’ll enjoy national and state parks, the big beautiful Mississippi River system, museums, and other attractions.

The headwaters of the Mississippi are found in Lake Itasca State Park, MN, and you can follow the flow through great cities all the way to New Orleans, LA. The National Brewery Museum is a must-see for wine and beer lovers, and a dinner/dance cruise on The river is a must-do on almost any part of the family road trip. Visit Memphis, TN, the birthplace of Rock ‘n Roll, and New Orleans, LA, for classic Creole cuisine.

Random Road Trip

Many of these family road trips require planning, but these surely aren’t the only ones you can take. Every state and every region has its own special attractions, and you don’t even have to plan very much to enjoy the ride. Really, the only things you need are a reliable car, snacks, and entertainment for the kids, and then just pick a direction. Go where the wind blows or the road leads and imagine what you’ll see!

DriversEd.com Mobile Apps to Take on the Road

DriversEd.com and its parent company, eDriving, offer two safe driving apps designed give you the best learning experience possible. Use our Drivers Ed app for 24/7 access to instructions, tools, and free practice tests. With Mentor for Families, you can bring the latest in driver safety technology to your vehicle. The app, which runs while your drive, analyzes your driving habits and rates your performance so you can strengthen your driving skills.

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5 Tips for Driving through Florida’s Alligator Alley

Driving through Florida’s Alligator Alley

While Florida has more than 20 million people, it also has more than 1.25 million alligators. And the reptiles’ large population wasn’t worrisome enough, their attraction to roadways will be: alligators enjoy Florida’s hot tar roads, as they like the hot surface.

Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, there are 5 things you should know about driving through Florida’s “Alligator Alley,” an 80-mile stretch of I-75 that runs from Naples to Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Keep your distance when you encounter one on the road. Stay at least 30 feet away from an alligator if you encounter one nearby or crossing the road.

“If you encounter an alligator, keep a safe distance away from it,” says Adam Rosenblatt, University of North Florida, Biology Department. While alligators appear to be moving slowly, they can move “remarkably quick when they want to,” he adds.

Stay away from nests, when you can. These look like large piles of dirt and vegetation and are most often seen throughout the spring and summer.

“Nesting female alligators frequently guard their nests, sometimes placing themselves near the nest but in a spot where you can’t see them, and if you get too close she is likely to try and protect her eggs,” Rosenblatt says.

Do not feed alligators. It is against Florida law to feed a wild alligator. There is a great reason why the law exists; as Rosenblatt explains, “the last thing we need is a population of gators that associates humans with an easy meal.”

See an alligator on the road blocking your path? Stop your car as quickly as you can, trying not to swerve. “Running over an alligator can be deadly for the alligator and the driver alike,” says Rosenblatt. If the alligator is crossing the road, wait for it to finish and then start on your way. But if it is lying in the middle of the road not moving or appearing to have any intention of moving, drive around it if there is room and no oncoming traffic.

Do not, under any circumstances, get out of your car when you encounter an alligator on the road. Alligators have been known to attack cars they feel are too close. Rosenblatt advises drivers to call the state’s nuisance alligator hotline at 866-FWC-GATOR and wait for a trained professional to come to move the alligator from the road if you can’t safely drive around it. This also applies to visibly injured or sick alligators, regardless of whether a vehicle is involved. South Florida Wildlife Center, an affiliate of the Humane Society of the United States, recommends that drivers contact their local police department, wildlife rehabilitation center, animal control agency or Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission office for assistance.

Also, don’t attempt to run it over, as injuring or killing an alligator is punishable by law and carries a fine up to $2,500 and 30 days in jail.

Don’t wait until you’re mid-trip. Test your defensive driving skills now by trying our practice permit tests. That way, you can be prepared for whatever Florida’s Aligator Alley throws your way.
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Parents: 4 Safety Tips to Protect Your Teen Driver this ‘100 Deadliest Days’ Season

Teen Driver Safety Tips for '100 Deadliest Days'Memorial Day marks the start of “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. During this timewhich ends on Labor Daythe risk of fatal collisions dramatically increases. More than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver during the same period in 2016, which is an average of 10 people per daya 14% increase compared to the rest of the year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Teen drivers often travel in large groups of their peers, stay out late at night, and exceed posted speed limits while on summer vacation. As a parent, you can play a vital role in mitigating the elevated level of risk by using these 4 safety tips to protect your teen.

Take Your Teen’s Vehicle in for a Safety System Check 

With crash avoidance and injury prevention as the goal, you can help your teen stay safe by bringing their vehicle into the shop for a thorough safety system check before summer arrives and every few months thereafter. Your auto technician will go over every safety system in the vehicle, including airbags, tire pressure monitors, and anti-lock brakes, to ensure the components all work as expected and perform repairs as needed. 

With all these systems working correctly, teach your teen how to correctly utilize each one in normal driving situations. Remind your teen to never rely on the safety systems alone, as they can become a crutch that may reduce the diligence of your new driver. 

Install and Monitor a Dash Camera 

Dash cameras installed at the front and rear of your teen’s vehicle have the potential to reinforce good driving habits and prevent reckless activities on the roadway.

“Dash cams can go beyond simply capturing information about a given situation on the road; they can also serve as learning toolswhen the footage is reviewed regularly,” said Chuck Hawks, CEO of  Teen Driving Solutions School, Inc. “They can give a parent the chance to praise as well as correct a new driver’s practices.” 

He further stresses the importance of dash cams as a peer pressure deterrent as teens can simply remind their friends that the cameras are rolling, and reckless driving will come with serious consequences. Consider reviewing the footage on a daily basis to touch base with your teen about their overall driving habits. 

Promote the Importance of Driving Without Distractions 

Although they will never admit it, teens look to their parents for guidance about the best practices to employ while driving. You must act as a role model for your teen by always resisting distractions, especially those coming through your cell phone, while you are behind the wheel. 

Furthermore, you should remind your teen that only a second of distracted driving can result in a severe collision that results in life-changing injuries or even death. Unlocking and using a cellphone, or even using voice commands for your vehicle’s infotainment systems, can distract drivers from the road ahead for nearly 30 seconds. Model great attentive driving behaviors by safely pulling over to utilize your digital devices or respond to a text on your cellphoneand encourage your teen to do the same. 

Enroll Your Teen in a Defensive Driving or In-Car Training Course 

Online and in-person defensive driving courses teach your teen about all the best collision avoidance techniques at their disposal. Throughout the course, teen drivers learn how to remain proactive in identifying and avoiding potential hazards on the roadway. After the course, enroll your teen in in-car training sessions to reinforce the defensive driving techniques in real-life situations with professional driving instructors. Taking your own defensive driving courses can help you learn updated safety information to effectively act as a great role model for your teen drivers. 

When you employ these 4 excellent practices in preparing your teen for their drives, you help mitigate the risks they face through and after the 100 deadliest days of the year. You can partner with eDriving to teach your teen how to safely maneuver down any roadway by signing up for defensive driving courses today. 

 

Teen Driver Safety Tips for '100 Deadliest Days'

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