May was National Bike Month, and DriversEd.com celebrated by participating in the 2015 Bay Area Company Bike Challenge. With just three team members, we biked a total of 426.4 miles—just 73.6 miles short of our goal of 500!
Out of all small companies in Alameda County, DriversEd.com took 14th place. Not too shabby for a 3-person team, even if a few factors held us back from logging five centuries:
- Weather: Temperatures in May were lower than average. Though the chilly conditions were perfect for me, it was too cold for Raúl, who prefers to take bicycle trips in hotter weather.
- Travel: Flink took a trip down to the eDriving office in Carlsbad for a couple of days and wasn’t able to ride a bike during that time.
- Injury: I had an embarrassing fall and injured my hand, which kept me from taking any long trips during the last weekend of the competition.
- Forgetfulness: A certain member of the team didn’t get the memo that every trip had to be logged within 7 days, so we lost a couple of miles here and there. Oops!
Maybe next year, with a little more planning, we’ll be able to recruit more colleagues to join the challenge and bike more miles. (Or maybe I’ll just set an easier goal for us!)
Highlights from Bike Month
We got away from our computers and went outside. Bike Month was a great excuse to get out and ride. Raúl made several trips along the scenic San Francisco Bay Trail. Flink went for a long ride through his favorite environment with lots of green trees.
We got tons of exercise. Altogether the three of us burned a total of 18,336 calories from bicycling during the month of May. That’s about the amount of calories in seven large cheese pizzas. I even managed to meet my personal goal of biking 200 miles.
We biked more than we normally would have. Tracking our bike trips for the Bike Challenge and comparing our total miles with each other inspired us to ride more. “I definitely changed my weekend plans to include some extra rides, and some extra-long rides,” said Flink. “So I guess it really did get me on the roads and in the saddle a little bit more than I would have been otherwise!”
We had fun! The Bike Challenge sparked a bit of friendly competition among the three of us (which I totally won!). We also participated in Bike to Work Day and bonded over beers at the Bike Happy Hour. Most important of all, a great time was had by all!
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We all know it’s illegal—and unsafe—to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs. As a matter of fact, impaired driving resulted in 1.2 million arrests and over 10,000 crash fatalities in the United States in 2013 alone. But when you look at the larger picture of traffic safety, you can see that a far greater proportion of traffic tickets and crashes every year are the result of common driving mistakes drivers make every day, often without even realizing how dangerous they really are.
On the road, most drivers just want to get where they’re going as comfortably and as efficiently as possible—after all, nothing can ruin your day quite like getting a speeding ticket or causing a crash. So how can you minimize these dangerous and costly disruptions? Well, beyond the obvious, like remembering to stop at STOP signs and yield to emergency vehicles, the best way to avoid costly driving errors is to pay more attention to how you’re driving.
Some Data from the Lone Star State
To try and figure out what behaviors it’s most important to avoid, let’s take a look at some statistics from the state with the most fatal crashes in the United States last year—Texas. The following table shows the factors that contributed to the highest numbers of crashes in that state in 2014.
The Most Common Crash Contributing Factors
Most people already know that it’s a mistake to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or to disregard a STOP sign. But the fact that other factors on this list contribute to so many collisions may be more surprising, particularly for drivers who haven’t taken one of our excellent courses in drivers education! The factors listed below are ranked in order of total crashes. Do you know when you’re making these driving mistakes?
1. Failure to control speed
This all-encompassing error includes everything from driving too fast down a hill or through a curve to going too fast in the rain or fog—even if your speed happens to be below the speed limit! Driving at a speed that’s unsafe for current road, weather, and lighting conditions can make it impossible for you to stop safely or steer clear of a hazard. You may even completely lose control of your car!
2. Driver inattention
There are three things you absolutely need when you drive: your hands on the wheel, your eyes on the road, and your mind on the drive. An inattentive driver lacks some or all of these essentials. You may think it’s safe to divide your attention between the driving task and other activities, but you’re wrong. Emergencies can and do happen without warning, and when they do, you need to be ready to respond immediately, thoughtfully, and precisely. You can’t do that if you’re reading a text or holding a cheeseburger in one hand.
3. Failure to drive in a single lane
Drifting out of your lane is a surefire way to get honked at or, if you’re not lucky, cause a collision. Whether it’s due to inattention to their car’s position, confusion about road markings, or unskilled maneuvering while turning or changing lanes, many drivers accidentally and unexpectedly cross into an adjacent lane. Except when safely executing a lane change, always strive to stay entirely within your own lane.
4. Unsafe lane change
A safe lane change involves several critically important steps: activating the appropriate turn signal, checking your mirrors and blind spots for other vehicles, finding an acceptable gap in traffic, adjusting your speed, and smoothly steering into the lane. Always remember to look carefully for motorcycles, as they can easily be hidden in your blind spots and their riders are especially vulnerable in a collision.
5. Following too closely
Many people follow other vehicles too closely—a behavior known as tailgating—without knowing it. At 30 mph, a safe following distance is about 5 car lengths (80 ft), and at 60 mph, you should maintain at least 17 car lengths (275 ft) in front of you. The best way to establish a safe following distance is to wait until the car you’re following passes a fixed point on the road ahead, then start counting to three; if you pass the same point before you reach three, you’re following too closely! Remember to increase your following distance in bad weather, at night, or when driving behind a motorcycle or large truck.
6. Driving at an unsafe speed (below the speed limit)
It’s not an obvious fact, but even driving too slow can be dangerous and illegal. When you drive below the speed limit and slower than the traffic around you, you force other drivers to either slow down or pass you, and the more often cars pass each other, the more likely they are to collide. Don’t disrupt the flow of traffic—it just isn’t safe.
7. Faulty evasive action
This driving mistake highlights the importance of being attentive at all times. A large object falls off of a truck and into your path—what are you going to do? Are both your hands on the steering wheel? Did you see the hazard with enough time to evade properly? Do you know where there’s an open space that you can escape to? When the time comes to evade a hazard, you need to be prepared.
8. Driving while fatigued
It can be difficult to get enough sleep on a regular basis, but that’s no excuse for driving while fatigued. When you’re in control of a motor vehicle, just keeping your eyes open isn’t good enough. You need to be alert, attentive, able to think clearly, and able to exercise fine control over your muscles at all times. Fatigue deprives you of these skills.
9. Driving at an unsafe speed (above the speed limit)
Speed limits are designed to keep drivers safe, and even in perfect conditions, it’s dangerous to exceed them. Speeding disrupts traffic flow, creates more opportunities for collisions with vehicles being passed, and results in exponentially more severe impacts in the event of a crash. Moreover, when you speed, you’ll have less control over your vehicle and less time to react. Never drive over the speed limit.
10. Cyclist failure to yield to motor vehicle
On the road, you must always yield to avoid a collision, no matter what form of transportation you’re using. Remember that bicyclists have all the same rights and responsibilities as motor vehicle operators. Bicyclists are particularly vulnerable in collisions with motor vehicles, so whether you’re on a bike or in a car, make sure to follow the rules of right-of-way at all times.
Learning from Our Driving Mistakes
Did any of these crash contributing factors remind you of your own driving behavior? Remember that the best time to break a bad habit is right now! You’ll save money on fines and tickets, avoid enraging other drivers, and most importantly, keep yourself and other road users safe. There are a lot of nuances to safe and responsible driving, but fortunately, it’s not that difficult! Just stay alert and focus on the drive. And if you do end up getting a ticket… there’s always online traffic school!
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In recent years, vehicle engineers and manufacturers have introduced a number of technologies designed to make driving safer and easier, and perhaps none has generated as much interest as Google’s Self-Driving Car Project. While other new technologies can reduce the risk of certain dangerous mistakes, such as drifting from your lane, tailgating, and backing up unsafely, it’s hoped that self-driving cars will eventually eliminate the risk of driver error entirely. And since 94% of crashes can be attributed to driver error, this technology has the potential to fundamentally change how we think about road safety—that is, if it works.
Now, after several years of testing the technology on public roads, Google and the California DMV are beginning to shed some light on how well driverless cars are performing and whether or not they’re making the roads safer for everyone else. For the most part, the early reports look promising: after logging over 1 million miles of autonomous driving, Google reports that, when in self-driving mode, its cars have been involved in only 7 impacts with other vehicles.¹
It’s also encouraging to note that every one of these collisions was minor, and in no incident was anyone—in either Google’s vehicle or the other car—injured. Indeed, more than half of these incidents were low-speed, rear-end collisions. And perhaps more significantly, in none of these collisions was Google’s vehicle at fault; it was always another driver’s error that led to the crash.
Self-Driving Cars Are Designed for Safety
Google’s self-driving cars aren’t just designed to obey the rules of the road; like human drivers, they know to look out for potential hazards and choose responses that will minimize risk. Several sophisticated computer systems are used to guide these vehicles:
- The cars are programmed with detailed maps that let them know how to get from one place to another. In addition to the mapping data available publicly through Google Maps, the cars also have information on other factors affecting traffic flow, such as road curvature, lane width, and the presence of traffic control devices.
- Sophisticated sensors help the car understand its environment. These sensors include lasers that track the positions of objects all around the car, cameras that detect shapes, colors, and other important information, and radar that indicates how fast everyone else on the road is moving.
- The vehicle’s internal processors then try to predict what will happen next and determine how to respond. Like many of Google’s technologies, these rely on complex algorithms that continue to be adjusted as the company learns from its cars’ experiences on the road.
These technologies have proven remarkably effective at keeping Google’s cars out of dangerous situations, and the more they’re tested, the safer they become. Recently, for example, Google’s been teaching its cars driving skills like stopping for emergency vehicles and recognizing the difference between left turns and U-turns.
Of course, it also helps that current prototypes are programmed to be especially cautious; for instance, the models being tested now can’t go faster than 25 mph, automatically avoid other cars’ blind spots, and wait 1.5 seconds for the intersection to clear when a traffic light turns green. Because of this approach, Google’s cars have so far been able to avoid any serious problems.
Some Reservations About Self-Driving Cars
No one can doubt that Google is taking a careful and conscientious approach to developing its driverless car technology. Certainly, the fact that these cars have been in only 7 collisions in over a million miles of autonomous driving is impressive. Nevertheless, it’s important to note that, based on official collision reports, U.S. drivers of passenger cars got into fewer than 3 non-injury crashes per million miles traveled in 2013.
Google is quick to point out, however, that more than half of all property-damage collisions are never reported to the police and thus are not reflected in these statistics. And it’s true that most of the impacts that Google’s cars experienced were so minor that they likely never would have been reported in normal circumstances. That said, the company could inspire more confidence by publicly addressing the problems it has found rather than minimizing the significance of unflattering statistics.
Consider the fact that, in two of the most serious incidents involving self-driving cars, the safety driver testing the vehicle felt compelled to shift to manual control at the last minute. For instance, when another vehicle veered into the side of one of Google’s cars while both were traveling at highway speeds, Google’s test driver took control of the wheel just as the car was being struck. This is especially worrisome given that the company doesn’t even plan to include a manual driving option on the cars it sells to consumers.
Moreover, one of the reasons these cars have avoided serious collisions so far is that they’ve primarily been tested in situations where serious collisions aren’t all that likely. In fact, much of the testing so far has been at relatively low speeds and at private facilities rather than on public roads. Right now, we don’t know how Google’s cars will react to emergencies at high speeds, drunk drivers on the road, or adverse weather conditions like rain and snow.
The more Google’s self-driving cars are tested and refined, the better they’ll become at predicting and responding to typical traffic patterns and common driving errors, and their safety is sure to improve. But one of the reasons we at DriversEd.com stress the importance of defensive driving is because many of the biggest risks we face as drivers come from situations we can’t anticipate. Behind the wheel, human beings can make split-second decisions in ways that Google’s computers can’t, and when we do, we can protect ourselves and others from situations that could have otherwise ended in disaster.
Every day, many potentially fatal collisions are avoided because a smart driver paid attention, stayed calm, and reflexively made the right decision. While Google certainly deserves praise for developing self-driving cars that have so far avoided serious collisions, it’s too soon to tell whether they’ll be better than people at dealing with these kind of emergencies. For now, the most important safety technology remains the same as it’s ever been: the alert, attentive brain of an informed and conscientious driver.
And Google, if you’re really serious about teaching your cars how to drive defensively, we have one piece of advice: Sign up for drivers ed today!
¹ Google’s test cars are designed so that they can work autonomously (without driver input) or be operated manually. The company’s findings indicate that, in manual and autonomous modes combined, its cars have traveled 1.8 million miles and been involved in 12 collisions. Autonomous driving accounted for approximately 1 million of these miles, and 7 of the 12 crashes occurred or began while the car was in autonomous mode.
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This week, millions of Americans have been asking themselves “are my air bags safe?” after the Department of Transportation announced the largest motor vehicle recall in the nation’s history. This recall is meant to address severe defects in several types of air bags manufactured by Takata, the fourth largest air bag maker in the world. Already, these faulty frontal air bags have been tied to at least six deaths and over 100 injuries globally.
There’s a good chance that your car will be recalled too, as the recall applies to 33.8 million cars and trucks in the United States alone—that’s one in every seven vehicles in the country! While you’re most likely to be affected if you drive a Honda model from 2001 to 2008, drivers of BMW, Chrysler, Ford, GM, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota vehicles built between 2001 and 2011 all face a potential recall.
If you feel like this isn’t the first time you’re hearing about an air-bag-related recall, you’re not mistaken. Just last year, in fact, over 16 million cars were recalled for defective Takata air bags. For years, various groups have called the safety of Takata’s air bags into question, but until now, the company has refused to fully accept responsibility for the problem.
In fact, Takata continued to use the same defective technology to replace some of the faulty air bags covered by earlier recalls. This means that even if your car was affected by a previous recall and you’ve already had your air bags replaced, you may need to get them fixed again!
The Reason for the Recall
When a vehicle gets into a collision, a sophisticated system of sensors and computers sends a signal to an inflator in each air bag. This ignites a propellant in the inflator, generating nitrogen gas and causing the air bag to expand and deflate in a fraction of a second. Altogether, the whole process takes about half as long as it takes you to blink.
At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. In the recalled Takata air bags, the propellant is based on ammonia nitrate, a common compound used in fertilizer. Over time, this propellant can degrade, especially if it’s exposed to moisture or fluctuating temperatures. (Indeed, the problem seems to be worst in places with high humidity.)
As the propellant degrades, the chances grow that it will ignite too rapidly in a collision, rupturing the inflator and shooting metal shrapnel through the fabric of the bag as rapidly as it expands. This CNN segment from last year shows what happens when the inflator explodes:
When you consider that air bags inflate at a rate of up to 200 mph, it’s easy to see why this situation can be so frightening—and so dangerous. Can you imagine getting into a minor crash only to lose an eye, or worse, crashing because the air bag exploded in your face? It’s already happened to dozens of drivers, and if your car is recalled and you ignore it, it could happen to you, too.
How to Make Your Air Bags Safe Again
If your car has been recalled due to an air bag defect (or for any other reason!), you should receive notice from the manufacturer that will let you know what to do. However, if you’ve moved, bought your car used, or just want to be safe, you can also use your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out if your car has been recalled. (Your car’s VIN number can be found on your registration documents and on the dashboard near the windshield wipers.)
Given the number of vehicles affected by the recall, it may take several weeks for manufacturers to notify all owners and for all vehicles to be added to the recall database, so be patient and remember to recheck your VIN number in a few weeks if you think you might be affected. You can also check the manufacturer’s website or call your dealer (or another dealership that sells your model) to get the latest information about the recall status of your car.
So, if your car is recalled, what does that mean for you? Are you going to have to replace your car? Fortunately, it’s a lot easier than that. In general, all you’ll have to do is bring your car into a dealership and they’ll replace the defective air bag parts—for free—even if your car is no longer under warranty. Some manufacturers are even giving drivers a car to borrow while theirs is under repair.
The bad news is that you may need to wait a while before you can get your air bags replaced. After all, to fix 34 million defective air bags, you need to have 34 million replacements, and it’s going to take time to make them all. And though Takata is boosting production on replacement parts, it’s still likely to be a couple of years before every recalled vehicle can be fixed. Priority is likely to be given to more affected vehicle models and drivers in humid regions, so be sure to check with your dealer first to find out when you can bring your car in for repairs.
A Reminder: Air Bags Save Lives
With such a large recall, some people may be wondering if they can have the air bags in their car turned off, or even if air bags are worth the risks in the first place. So it’s important to remember that air bags play a crucial role in protecting you in a crash.
As tragic and pointless as it is to lose any lives to a manufacturing flaw, air bags are nevertheless estimated to save over 2,000 people every year and to have saved over 40,000 lives since 1975. Even in recalled cars, you’re still more likely to be saved than to be injured by an air bag if you get into a crash.
So if your car is recalled, you probably don’t need to stop driving it until you can get the air bags replaced. That said, there are always certain things you should do to minimize the risk of an air bag injury—whether they’re defective or not:
- Maintain at least ten inches between your chest and the steering wheel
- Grip the lower half of the wheel with your knuckles on the outside
- If you have tilt steering, direct the steering wheel at your chest, not your face
- Always wear your seat belt
Keep in mind that the closer you are to the steering wheel, the more likely you are to be injured. For that reason, shorter drivers who need to sit close to the dashboard to reach the control pedals are more at risk. These drivers should contact the manufacturer if their car’s been recalled to see if their repairs can be prioritized.
If you’re still worried about driving a recalled car, you may also consider using another form of transportation, such as a bus, bike, rental car, or carpool, so you can minimize your driving until your vehicle can be fixed. And of course, the best thing to do is drive safely! If you don’t get into a collision, you won’t really need to worry about whether your air bags are safe in the first place.
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If you’ve taken one of our courses, you know that there’s no shortage of ways to get in touch with us. We love your feedback, so we try to make it easy for you to give it to us: we have live chat and phone operators standing by 24/7, we read every email we get, we take feedback from inside our course player, and when a student completes our course, we ask them how it went, and we ask them to rate us from 1 to 5 stars.
The vast majority of comments we receive are positive, which is actually very helpful. When we see which lessons and teaching strategies get the most positive feedback, we learn about what’s most interesting and understandable to our students. When students are engaged with material that makes sense to them, real learning happens! That means more safe drivers—something we’re truly committed to at DriversEd.com.
On the other side of the coin, we do receive some negative feedback. Case in point: two of our employees recently noticed that our Texas 32-Hour Drivers Ed course was receiving a significant number of 1-star reviews, so we decided to look into it. After deep-diving into feedback from inside the course player and from the end-of-course survey, reading over 10,000 comments along the way, we were able to pin down the primary sources of the problem: course length and test question difficulty.
When it comes to the length of our Texas Teen Drivers Ed course, unfortunately, our hands are tied. State regulations require our online course to be no less than 32 hours long—and that’s still a far cry from the 56 hours required if you take the course in a classroom!.
However, after carrying out a thorough review of the test questions used in the course, and in particular the course’s movie quiz questions, we came to agree with our students: some of our movie quiz questions were too challenging! Many students commented that, after paying close attention to the safe driving tips in a movie, they were baffled when the movie quiz asked something like: “Which of the characters in the video was wearing sunglasses?”
Although state regulations require us to ask questions the student would not be able to answer without watching the movie, we found that we could work within the rules to bring our test questions closer into alignment with our students’ expectations. So we wrote more than 50 new questions for over 20 movies used in the course, obtained the required regulatory approval for the changes, and today, we rolled them out in an update to our course!
Time—and copious amounts of helpful user feedback—will tell whether we’ve found the right solution to our Texas 32-Hour Teen Drivers Ed students’ movie quiz question woes. We’ll keep our ears to the ground to see how our students respond to these changes in the coming months. Rest assured, at DriversEd.com, we don’t just listen to your comments—we act on them!
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You know those movies where someone’s lost in the desert, desperate for anything that could slake their thirst? It’s a situation that always seems to reduce people to the same desperate condition: staggering, clumsy, unable to think clearly, even seeing things that aren’t there. Now, instead of alone on some sandy dune, picture this same parched person behind the wheel. If you were on the road, would you want to be anywhere near them?
Even though, like all movies, these scenes are exaggerated, they’re not as far from reality as you might think. In fact, even typical levels of dehydration can impair your mental clarity, focus and concentration, and reaction time. Being dehydrated can also give you headaches, impair your muscle function, make it harder to think, and put you in a bad mood.
If these symptoms sound familiar, they should: after all, they’re many of the same harmful effects of alcohol that make it so dangerous to drive drunk. So it should come as no surprise that dehydrated driving can be dangerous, too. In fact, new research has revealed that dehydration can impair a driver’s performance as much as having a BAC of 0.08%—the legal limit for drinking and driving.
The Facts About Dehydrated Driving
To determine the effects of dehydration on drivers, researchers at Loughborough University in Britain used a driving test that simulated two hours of monotonous driving with bends, hard shoulders, rumble strips, and slow-moving vehicles that the driver needed to pass. Participants in the study were tested twice. On the first day, the drivers were provided with about a cup of water every hour, while on the second they were given only a few sips per hour.
What the researchers found was that, when properly hydrated, the test group collectively committed 47 driving errors (such as drifting, late braking, and crossing the rumble strip or lane line). But in the dehydrated driving test, these same drivers committed 101 errors—more than twice as many as they did before! According to Professor Ron Maughan, who led the study, these results suggest that “drivers who are not properly hydrated make the same number of errors as people who are over the [legal BAC] limit.”
Keep in mind that these numbers only reflect the effects of mild dehydration, as participants did get a small amount of water to drink during the second test. Going a long time without drinking anything at all is likely to compromise your driving much more severely.
Give Yourself a Break
Before you leave on a long drive, do you use the bathroom and try to avoid drinking much water so you won’t have to stop on the way? While this might save you a little time, the truth is that you’ll have a safer and more pleasant trip if you take a break every hour or so. Taking a short break occasionally can help you:
- Avoid dehydrated driving: If you know you’ll be taking regular breaks, you’ll have no reason not to drink enough water before you go. And a break is a perfect opportunity to rehydrate yourself so you feel rejuvenated when you get back on the road.
- Avoid drowsy driving: The monotony of long trips can lull drivers into a drowsy trance. By giving yourself a chance to stretch, walk around, and rest your eyes every once in a while, you can stay more physically and mentally alert.
- Avoid distracted driving: While it’s a good idea to keep your energy up with water and snacks when you’re on a long trip, you should already know that eating and drinking are dangerous distractions when you’re behind the wheel. Instead, find a rest stop or gas station where you can stop and take it easy for a few minutes. After all, your car may be in need of refueling, too!
With summer approaching, it’s especially important to stay hydrated. On a 70 degree day, the inside temperature of a parked car can reach over 100 degrees in half an hour. Extreme heat can intensify dehydration and cause discomfort, light-headedness, and even heat stroke. On hot days, be especially sure you drink plenty of water or other hydrating liquids.
Keep in mind that not all beverages are equally effective at preventing dehydrated driving. Water, juice, and sports drinks are all good hydrators, while coffee, soft drinks, and other caffeinated beverages are more likely to dry you out. And of course alcohol will dehydrate you and amplify the effects of dehydration, severely impairing your driving ability!
This summer, make sure every drive is a safe and pleasant drive. Eat healthy, get plenty of sleep, and always drink enough water before you get behind the wheel.
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The 2015 Bay Area Bike Challenge officially starts today, and DriversEd.com is excited to throw our helmets in the ring!
Why We’re Participating
Even though our specialty is driving, we’re not just drivers—we’re bicyclists too! We’re participating in the Bay Area Bike Challenge this year to recognize and celebrate another wonderful way to travel.
As a drivers education company, we’re committed to making the road a safer place for everyone, including bicyclists and pedestrians. A lot of us here at DriversEd.com commute to work by bicycle, motorcycle, public transit, or foot.
Why We Like to Ride
Bicycles are awesome, and the benefits to riding are endless. Here are just a few reasons we sometimes choose two wheels over four, and why we’re excited about the Bay Area Bike Challenge.
Biking is a fun and easy way to exercise. An average American weighing 195.5 pounds will burn 177 calories for every 30 minutes of easy bicycling. Other health benefits include decreased stress, improved fitness and coordination, and much more.
Even babies on tricycles know that pedaling around is fun. There’s nothing quite like rolling down the road on a bike, powered only by your own two legs, and feeling the wind in your face.
- Reducing greenhouse gases
An average car produces 7 to 10 tons of greenhouse gases every year. In comparison, a bicycle only requires fossil fuels for the manufacturing of parts and the bicycle itself.
- Jumpstarting the day
Biking helps us start the day with more energy—both physically and mentally. We’re always awake, energetic, and ready to work after a brisk bicycle commute
- Being better drivers
Every good driver knows how to share the road. Our experiences as pedestrians and bicyclists teach us to be more aware and careful of other road users when we get behind the wheel.
Our Bay Area Bike Challenge Goals
How many miles can we ride in 31 days? So far, three of us have signed up. During our practice run, we biked over 30 miles and burned 1,400 calories! Whew! But practice is only practice. Now that the Bike Challenge has officially started, the competition is getting serious.
Not counting Memorial Day, there are 20 workdays in May. If we all ride our bikes to work every day, we’ll cover 232 miles during just our daily commutes!
Here’s the math:
- Raúl’s daily round-trip commute is 2.6 miles.
- Flink’s daily round-trip commute is 4 miles.
- Angela’s daily round-trip commute is 5 miles.
- Our combined daily commute is 11.6 miles.
- Estimated total commute in May: 11.6 miles x 20 days = 232 miles
Now, let’s say we each bike an extra 10 miles during the week for running errands, meeting up with friends, or just plain fun. There are 4 full weeks in May, so that adds up to another 120 miles on weekdays. And with the excellent weather and Memorial Day holiday, I bet we’ll each cover about 10 miles over 5 weekends for an extra 150 miles.
Add everything up, and that’s a grand total of about 500 miles for DriversEd.com in the Bay Area Bike Challenge!
But if we literally go the extra mile, and if we can convince more colleagues join the challenge, maybe we can make our stretch goal of 600 miles. That means my personal goal is to bike at least 200 miles this month!
Think we can do it? Place your bets in the comments, and check back in June to find out!
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El Proyecto de Ley 60 (AB 60) es una nueva ley estatal que permite a los indocumentados de California solicitar una licencia de conducir AB 60. ¡Desde que la ley entró en vigor el 1 de enero, más de 210,000 personas han recibido licencias! Pero de acuerdo al DMV de California, cerca de 17,000 solicitantes siguen esperando pasar por el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60.
¿Qué es el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60?
Si estás solicitando una licencia de conducir AB 60, necesitas tener comprobante de tu identidad y comprobante de residencia en California. Revisa la página 1 de la lista de documentos aceptables del DMV para ver lo que podrías utilizar como prueba de identidad.
Si no tienes ninguno de estos documentos aceptables, podrás pasar por el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60. Esto significa que podrás entregar todos los documentos como sean posibles para comprobar tu identidad.
El DMV también podrá referirte al proceso de revisión secundaria si encuentra en tu solicitud de licencia de conducir información que entra en conflicto con tus récords. Si el DMV te refiere a la revisión secundaria, se te enviara un Aviso de Remisión para la segunda revisión (DL 209 A) que se parece a esto.
Cómo funciona el proceso de revisión secundaria
Para el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60, necesitarás reunir tantos documentos como sea posible para comprobar tu identidad. Esto incluye documentos escolares, acta de matrimonio, devolución de impuestos de U.S. y más. Revisa la página 2 de la lista de documentos del DMV para ver todos los documentos que deberías de usar para la revisión secundaria.
Una vez que hayas entregado tu aplicación para el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60, la División de Investigaciones del DMV (INV) revisará tus documentos. Ellos pueden programar una entrevista contigo. El DMV ha dicho que el proceso de revisión secundaria podrá tomar hasta 90 días, y para algunos solicitantes ha tomado más tiempo, así que ten paciencia.
Información para poseedores de licencias previas.
El DMV guarda la información de todas las solicitudes de licencias de conducir del pasado. Si anteriormente tuviste una licencia de conducir de California, el DMV todavía tiene registros de la información que utilizaste para aplicar en el pasado.
Si utilizaste información falsa (como un nombre falso o número de Seguro Social) para solicitar tu licencia anterior, la solicitud de una licencia AB 60 puede ser riesgosa. Antes de aplicar deberías de hablar con un abogado. El DMV podría iniciar un procedimiento legal por fraude si creen que has intentado cometer fraude o robo de identidad.
Cuándo consultar a un abogado
El DMV proporcionara tu información si se solicita por las agencias de ley, como Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE), el departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS), o cualquier otra organización gubernamental. Si ICE o la agencia de ley te está buscando, la solicitud de una licencia de AB 60 puede ser riesgosa.
Si no estás seguro de solicitar una licencia AB 60, deberías obtener asesoramiento de un abogado con licencia y de confianza.
Es posible que desees hablar con un abogado si alguna de las siguientes situaciones aplica a ti:
- Si has utilizado información falsa al solicitar una licencia de conducir de California en el pasado.
- Si tu nombre o número de Seguro Social está vinculado con actividad criminal.
- Si tienes una orden de deportación pendiente o anterior de Inmigración y Control de Aduanas (ICE)
- Si tienes alguna duda o no estás seguro acerca de la solicitud.
- Si tienes algún caso legal en procedimiento.
Maneja California es una coalición de defensores de los derechos de inmigrantes, organizaciones basadas en la comunidad, proveedores de servicio, organizaciones basadas en la fe y defensores de los derechos de los trabajadores. Es posible que puedas obtener ayuda legal y asesoramiento de alguno de estos grupos o de la Coalición por los Derechos Humanos de los Inmigrantes de Los Angeles (CHIRLA) para la revisión secundaria AB 60.
- Se paciente. El proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60 puede tomar hasta 90 días o más.
- Los documentos extranjeros deben ser traducidos en Inglés por un profesional y notariado. Actas de nacimiento necesitan ser traducidas y tener una Apostilla auténtica.
- Si no tienes un número de Seguro Social, deja esa sección de tu solicitud en blanco. No utilices información falsa en tu solicitud.
- Ten cuidado con el fraude. El costo de una licencia de conducir de California es de $33. No pagues a nadie, excepto al DMV para tu licencia de conducir.
Si tienes cualquier otra pregunta sobre el proceso de revisión secundaria AB 60 o de como solicitar una licencia AB 60, DriversEd.com ofrece recursos gratuitos en Español y en Inglés. Consulta nuestras Preguntas Frecuentes o mándanos un mensaje en Facebook y haremos nuestro mejor esfuerzo para responderte tus preguntas o guiarte en la dirección correcta.
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It’s been a long day. You’re tired and cranky and just want to pick up a quick bite and get home as soon as you can. But when you get to your favorite take-out spot: Disaster! There’s no place for you to park!
But wait! Is that—? There’s enough room, but…Drat! It’s in a red zone! Still…you’ve already called in your order, and you’re only going to be a minute anyway, so there’s hardly any risk. After all, what’s the worst that could happen?
It’s Worse Than You Think
If you think that a cheap ticket you can afford to ignore is the biggest risk you face when you park in an illegal spot, drive with a broken taillight, or commit any other minor violation to save yourself a bit of time or inconvenience, think again! According to a pair of recent studies in California and Missouri, more and more local governments are raising funds by tacking hundreds of dollars in fees on top of the basic costs of a traffic ticket.
What’s worse, in many cases, the penalty for unpaid tickets is a license suspension. In California, for instance, if you’re issued a $100 parking ticket for parking in that red zone, with fees you’ll end up owing $490. Then, if you fail to meet the initial deadline to pay the ticket or appear in court, the amount you owe will rise to $815 and your license will be immediately suspended. And when your license is suspended for unpaid fines, you’ll have to pay the entire amount you owe to get your license back—or even just to get a hearing!
That’s right: even if the ticket was issued mistakenly, drivers in California and many other states typically cannot have their case heard in court until they’ve already paid the full amount of their fine. In practice, this means that if you can’t afford to pay the ticket, you also won’t be able to afford to have the court review your case. And in Missouri, where in many communities citations are issued at a rate of more than one per person each year, drivers who fail to appear in court to resolve a ticket can end up behind bars!
The True Costs of Unpaid Tickets
Historically, traffic tickets and license suspensions have been tools to discourage people from engaging in unsafe driving practices. But in recent years, governments have begun tacking ever-increasing fees on the cost of tickets to make up for lost revenues and fund basic government services, then using license suspensions as a tool to make people pay up. For instance, in California, approximately 40% of the fees added to the cost of a ticket are used to fund the very courts that oversee traffic violations, and in Missouri, attorneys who prosecute traffic violations in one jurisdiction often serve as judges in others. Talk about conflicts of interest!
Regardless of the intention, these policies can seriously impact a driver’s life, especially if he or she is someone who’s already struggling to make ends meet. After all, it’s one thing to have to scrape together $100, but it’s simply unrealistic to expect that the majority of drivers can cover a fine of almost $500 just like that. And when you can’t pay, you’ll be fined even more and your license will be taken away until you can—but of course, if you can’t drive, it’s going to be much harder to earn the money you need to get your license back!
Although they were intended to help keep the government running, these policies are taking a serious toll on the state’s economy: in California, 4.3 million drivers licenses were suspended between 2006 and 2013 but only 70,000 of those licenses were reinstated! Currently, one in six drivers in California has a suspended license, and collectively these drivers are carrying over $10 billion in court-ordered debt that they simply can’t pay.
These numbers look bad enough as it is, but when you realize that following a license suspension, 42% of people lose their jobs as a result, you can start to understand just how costly unpaid tickets can be! Also keep in mind that, of those who lose their jobs, 45% cannot find another, and of those who can find another, 88% make less than they did before.
How to Avoid a License Suspension
As these facts should make clear, there’s no such thing as a cheap ticket. Fortunately, there are a few things you can do to avoid unpaid tickets, an unnecessary license suspension, and possibly even imprisonment:
- Drive well: It should go without saying, but the best way to avoid tickets and collisions is to drive defensively and apply the safe driving practices you learned in your drivers ed course. By following the law and interacting courteously with others on the road, you’ll avoid giving the police a reason to issue you a ticket in the first place.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks: Even if you’re just speeding 5 mph over the limit or making a turn from the wrong lane on a clear roadway, you’re breaking the law and could be cited. Sure, that spot in the red zone may look tempting, but finding another parking space will be a lot easier than the hassle of dealing with a ticket.
- Act fast: If you are issued a ticket, deal with it as quickly as you can. If you can’t afford the cost but know someone who can loan you money, ask them if they can help. If you wait too long you’ll lose your license, making it much harder to fix the problem.
- Learn your options: Make sure you read your ticket and any other correspondence you receive carefully. In general, you will receive further information about discharging your ticket in the mail, but even if you don’t, you must resolve the issue in a timely manner. If you’re required to attend traffic school, enroll in a class immediately. Consult a lawyer if possible.
Don’t let a minor inconvenience turn into a major headache! If you want to keep your license, avoid taking shortcuts on the road, deal with maintenance problems promptly, always park safely and legally, and take care of any unpaid tickets as soon as possible.
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Assembly Bill 60 (AB 60) is a new state law that lets undocumented Californians apply for an AB 60 drivers license. Since the law went into effect on January 1, over 210,000 people have received licenses! But according to the California DMV, about 17,000 applicants are still waiting to go through the AB 60 secondary review process.
What is AB 60 secondary review?
If you’re applying for an AB 60 license, you need to have proof of your identity and proof of California residency. Check page 1 of the DMV’s list of acceptable documents to see what you can use for proof of identity.
If you don’t have any of these acceptable documents, you can go through the AB 60 secondary review process instead. That means you submit as many other documents as possible to prove your identity.
The DMV may also refer you to the secondary review process if it finds information on your drivers license application that conflicts with its records. If the DMV refers you to secondary review, they will send you a Secondary Review Referral Notice (DL 209A) that looks like this.
How the secondary review process works
For the AB 60 secondary review process, you’ll need to gather as many documents as possible to prove your identity. This includes your school documents, marriage license, U.S. income tax returns, foreign passport, and more. Check page 2 of the DMV’s documents list to see all the documents you should use for secondary review.
Once you’ve submitted your application for the AB 60 secondary review process, the DMV Investigations Division (INV) will review your documents. They may schedule an interview with you. The DMV has said that secondary review can take up to 90 days, and for some applicants it has taken even longer, so be patient.
Information for previous license holders
The DMV saves information from all past drivers license applications. If you previously had a California drivers license, the DMV still has records of the information you used to apply in the past.
If you used false information (such as a false name or Social Security number) to apply for your previous license, applying for an AB 60 license can be risky. You should talk to a lawyer before you apply. The DMV may pursue a case for fraud if they believe that you attempted to commit fraud or identity theft.
When to consult a lawyer
The DMV will provide your information if requested by law enforcement agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), or any other government organization. If ICE or law enforcement is looking for you, applying for an AB 60 license can be risky.
If you’re not sure if you should apply for an AB 60 license, you should get advice from a licensed and trusted attorney.
You may want to talk to a lawyer if any of the following situations apply to you:
- If you used false information to apply for a California drivers license in the past.
- If your name or Social Security Number is linked to criminal activity.
- If you have an outstanding or previous deportation order from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
- If you have any concerns or are unsure about applying.
- If you have any on-going legal cases.
Drive California is a coalition of immigrants’ rights advocates, community-based organizations, service providers, faith-based organizations and workers’ rights advocates. You may be able to get legal help and advice about AB 60 secondary review from one of these groups or from the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
- Be patient. The AB 60 secondary review process can take up to 90 days or longer.
- Foreign documents need to be translated into English by professional and notarized. Foreign birth certificates need to be translated and have an Apostille authentication.
- If you don’t have a Social Security number, leave that section of your application blank. Do not use false information on your application.
- Beware of fraud. The cost of a California drivers license is $33. Do not pay anyone except the DMV for your drivers license.
If you have any other questions about AB 60 secondary review or how to apply for an AB 60 license, DriversEd.com offers free resources in both English and Spanish. Check our FAQ or message us on Facebook and we’ll do our best to answer your questions or point you in the right direction.