What would you think if more than half of the drunk drivers who were found at fault for injuring or killing a pedestrian weren’t prosecuted and didn’t even have their licenses revoked? Our culture generally has little tolerance for drunk driving. Drunk drivers can be fined and have their licenses suspended in California, even if they aren’t over the legal limit, according to the California DMV.
Pedestrian fatalities and injuries caused by drunk drivers, have serious consequences, such as jail time and extended revocation of licenses. Accidental pedestrian fatalities and injuries caused by sober drivers, however, are given different consideration and prosecuted rarely, with much lighter consequences, as KQED reported last month.
The report said that in the Bay Area’s five largest counties (Alameda, Contra Costa, Santa Clara, San Mateo and San Francisco) among 238 motorists who were at fault or suspected to be at fault for a pedestrian death within a five-year period (from 2007 to 2011), 60 percent did not face charges in that period.
KQED reported that one of the reasons for light or no sentences is that jurors tend to put themselves in the shoes of the driver, rather than the pedestrian. Drivers who accidentally kill or injure pedestrians often cite common reasons, such as the blinding reflection of the sun—familiar factors that many drivers have experienced. Of the 85 drivers who were actually convicted for pedestrian fatalities, only 40 percent had to serve a one-day jail sentence, and a total of just 13 drivers were jailed for more than a year.
In San Francisco, more than 700 pedestrians are injured each year, according to the report by KQED. The penalties have been lenient thus far, but Bill AB 840, spearheaded by San Francisco’s state assemblyman, Tom Ammiano, would make it easier for prosecutors to prove fault in court. The bill would require new and renewing drivers to acknowledge that they’re aware of the dangers of distracted driving, including pedestrian fatalities and injuries.
It’s terrifying to imagine hurting a person while you’re behind the wheel. The mental agony of taking someone’s life, coupled with the family’s grieving, and potential new legal penalties are not worth the seconds one might save while continuing to drive under dangerous conditions.
No one intends to accidentally hurt a pedestrian. In KQED’s report, one of the drivers found to be at fault was a mom who was focused on comforting her children in the back seat. What are some of the external factors that might distract you from driving safely? Consider taking a defensive driving course to learn how to mitigate the common dangers on the road, and please pull over if you’re having to deal with any potentially distracting issues, such as a crying child, a heated discussion with your passenger, or road conditions that make it hard to see or steer.
Now that drivers can use voice-to-text applications, the dangers of driving while texting are old news, right? Not really, unfortunately. It turns out that both manual and hands-free texting result in double the lag time that it takes drivers to react to basic driving conditions, such as a change in the traffic light from red to green, according to a federally funded study by Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI).
The study by TTI measured and compared the reaction times of 43 drivers on a closed course while they drove without distractions, while they manually texted, and while they used hands-free texting apps. In a surprising turn, TTI actually found that hands-free texting took about twice as long as manual texting (this could be due to the hands-free texting technology being relatively new).
Not all states have strict rules on texting, so while this data is known to government agencies, it hasn’t been applied across the country. If you’re just about to start learning to drive, make sure you pick a school that emphasizes the rules of safety, not just the rule of law, as it’s tempting to become a distracted driver if there’s no penalty and you’re not highly aware of the dangers.
While it might take the driver less time to type out a text than to verbalize it, drivers are equally distracted while using both manual and hands-free texting—making the driver 23 times worse than while driving without distractions. It basically comes down to this: if your thoughts are on communication, they’re probably not on the road. Have you ever had a chatty passenger in your car? The kind that wants to tell you a juicy piece of gossip or show you Facebook photos of their latest crush while you’re trying to find parking?
Well, we drivers sometimes artificially create that gabby friend by texting with one! I’ve been guilty of it too. When I’m stuck in traffic, I feel like I’m wasting time. I feel compelled to pull out my phone and either catch up on emails that require a short answer, or check if the friends I’m meeting have reached the destination yet…even though I can find out safely in 5 minutes, once I arrive and park my car!
For many of us born after 1990, there’s never been a dull moment that couldn’t be made stimulating by a screen that instantly displays texts, Facebook messages, news, or etc. It’s pretty hard for many teens (and many adults) to choose staring at a stoplight over the immediate gratification of interacting with a human being.
I’ve found that listening to NPR is very helpful because it keeps me interested, yet I don’t have to do anything but drive to keep it going, while I can keep my eyes and attention on the road. If you have a super active mind and can relate to the desire to keep yourself entertained in the car, then you might want to read these tips to make sure you don’t swap one bad habit for another. Do you have any suggestions for how drivers can stay both engaged and alert behind the wheel?
“The problem with driver’s education is…you learn that almost everyone else is a lousy driver,” remarked another jaded youth who had just taken drivers education, now burdened with the weight of knowledge that he could never unlearn.
Meanwhile, his dad slumped dejectedly in the passenger’s seat, wishing desperately that he could go back to the time he was blissfully ignorant of the dangers on the road—a more innocent time, a time before drivers education….
In all seriousness, with so many terrible drivers on the road, it seems like the real problem with drivers education is that not enough people take it. Bad drivers don’t just endanger themselves; they put their passengers, fellow drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists at risk too.
Drivers education courses cover traffic laws, safe driving techniques, driving risks, responding to emergencies, and much more. It’s all important information that can keep you out of trouble when you’re behind the wheel.
DriversEd.com offers high-quality online course to make drivers education more accessible and convenient. Our lessons are full of 3-D interactive case studies, videos, and activities to keep you entertained and help you stay focused, so you don’t miss any important information.
Don’t be another lousy driver—take drivers education! If you don’t have a license yet, our courses make sure you’re all up to speed on road safety and rules and ready to earn your permit and hit the road.
If you’re an adult who has already been driving for years, our adult drivers ed courses can help you refresh your knowledge and even earn an insurance discount.
So if you aren’t put off by the fact that you might end up spotting bad drivers all around you, sign up for a drivers education course to become a smarter and safer driver.
In the meantime, remember that the best way to deal with bad drivers is to stay calm and keep your distance.
Being safe and responsible for yourself and your passengers is the number one task for any driver. Even if you’re 100% sure that you are the best and safest driver on the whole planet, don’t forget about other drivers whose behind-the-wheel style can lead to collisions. Unfortunately, you can’t control others and their irresponsible behavior, but if you know the most dangerous times for driving, you can coordinate your own schedule to avoid danger.
The following data, collected by the NHTSA and AAA, is based on the number of fatalities on the roads. You should always be safe and alert when you’re behind the wheel, but these are some specific times during which you should bring your fullest attention to the road and drive as carefully as possible.
Time of the day
The most dangerous time of the day on the road is the two hours from 5 pm to 7 pm. During evening rush hour, the roads are congested. Day commuters who are tired after working and wish to get home as soon as possible make the road a dangerous place. However, going by the highest percentage of fatalities per total amount of people on the road, the deadliest hours are from midnight to 4 am.
Day of the week
Saturdays! Beware of Saturdays! According to sources, the average number of traffic fatalities on the first day of the weekend is 158 people. This is almost twice the number of fatalities that occur on an average weekday.
The NHTSA reports that August is the most menacing month of the year for drivers, closely followed by September and June. A special warning for juvenile drivers, who should be aware of the whole summer season: the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day is called “100 Deadliest Days” for teens, not without a reason. Having fun during your long summer vacation is of course is a primary task, but don’t forget about the driving safety rules that you’ve learned in drivers ed.
On the Fourth of July, you should leave your car in a garage, or keep your wits about you if you have to get behind the wheel. Independence Day has continued to be one of the most dangerous driving days for decades. The Fourth of July brings catastrophic consequences for a lot of road users. According to IIHS data more the 900 people die in Fourth of July car collisions every year.
Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel holidays of the year, with families from all across the country traveling to get back together. That makes Thanksgiving weekend one of the most dangerous times for driving. Plan ahead, stay alert, and be prepared for winter driving conditions on your next Thanksgiving weekend.
The first day of a snowstorm is dangerous for drivers. The whole cold season doesn’t bring as many traffic collisions and fatalities as the first day of snowing. Fender-benders are 14% more likely to happen on the first day of snow than later in the snowy season.
Places to stay away from
It is said that over half of all fatalities occur on rural roads. Meanwhile, highways and interstate roads are still not the safest places. And according to statistics, the most notorious ones are:
- I-95, Florida
- I-76, New Jersey
- I-4, Florida
- I-15, California
- I-10, California
Now that you know the most dangerous times for driving and common places to avoid, you can control the situation better when you’re behind the wheel. Just don’t forget that this is not up to car or circumstances to make the mistakes or to avoid ones, it is only up to drivers. And if you don’t feel 100% confident about your driving skills or knowledge, then don’t just take chances, take an additional step to ensure everyone’s safety on the roads and sign up for a defensive driving program. That way you can learn the newest driving techniques to handle any risky situation and to stay calm and confident even during most dangerous times on the road!
Mini Coopers and their drivers never cease to surprise. They both regularly replenish The Guinness Book of World Records with new gripping achievements. One of them is parallel parking in the tightest spot. Car enthusiasts drove a Mini Cooper and parked it into a designated area in realistic parking conditions, except that the parking spot was just a few inches longer than the car itself. To see how it looked and to watch other record holders drive Mini Cooper cars in their stunts, check out the videos below!
The Guinness world record for parking was set by two brothers John and Alastair Moffat, who drove a Mini Cooper Mayfair. They parked in a spot only 5.16 inches longer than the car. This unbelievable parking job was done last December in England.
Another tour de force of nearly impossible parking came from Han Yue, Chinese master driver. The driver drifted into a space just 5.91 inches longer than his Mini Coupe.
Being super-fast and super-accurate at parallel parking would be a very helpful skill to have, considering that the conditions the stunt drivers are parking in are so close to the harsh reality of constricted downtown parking.
Creativity is endless, and possibilities are immeasurable for many of the professional drivers who manage to do incredible things with their cars. Who would ever think that, besides parking and driving, you can use your car as sporting equipment? French sportsman Guerlain Chicherit uses a Mini Countryman as skis and completes a back-flip on a snowy ramp.
Parallel parking in the tightest spaces, skiing, ski jumping, what else can the Mini Cooper do? Well, how about being the first car you drive in? You can learn the foundations of driving in a Mini Cooper, the car that is chosen and adored by driving professionals. DriversEd.com offers this opportunity, with all behind-the-wheel training done in either a BMW Mini Cooper or BMW Mini Countryman. The cars feature exceptional safety (that’s probably why so many record holders choose to drive Mini Cooper cars for the most extreme stunts). They are also known for simplicity and ease of use. So it will be easy to become an excellent driver in Mini Cooper! Moreover, all of our friendly instructors are professionals with years of driving and teaching experience. They look for a personal approach with every student and know how to teach vehicle-handling skills the most effective way.
Learn how to drive in BMW Mini from the very start of your behind-the-wheel life, and, who knows, maybe you will be the next to set a driving record in a Mini Cooper!
A driving instructor from West Virginia was recently arrested for teaching a student how to perform donuts. The instructor is being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor as well as destruction of property.
The instructor, Edwin Anderson, claims he taught his student how to do donuts so that she could learn vehicle control in off-road conditions. What do you think? Should this driving instructor be punished or praised for teaching this advanced (and potentially very dangerous) maneuver to a student driver? Discuss below.
What do you think? Should this driving instructor be punished or praised for teaching this advanced (and potentially very dangerous) maneuver to a student driver? Leave a comment to let us know, what you think!
Summer is the most dangerous season for teens to drive, say statistics. But we still have the whole spring to do our best to remind everybody to drive carefully and prevent any potential collisions on the road. There are a lot of ways to do so, and probably one of the most effective, fun and exciting is to participate in a teen safe driving contest. This engaging and collaborative process is beneficial in many ways!
This year various organizations are holding teen safe driving contests. You can make short videos, write articles, design logos, take pictures and make cartoons to reach your peers and get great prizes as a reward! But what’s most important is that, by focusing on the most common teen driving issues, you can save lives of your friends and classmates.
Make our roads a safe place and prevent other teens from making critical mistakes by working on one of these projects this spring:
1. High School Video Contest from The Self Movement
Deadline: March 31
First prize: $2,000 in scholarships
Create a 30- to 60-second safe driving video that increases awareness about the dangers of distracted or impaired driving. Examples include drinking and driving, texting and driving, paying attention to friends/music while driving, etc.
2. Viral Video Scholarship Contest
Deadline: March 31
First Prize: $2,000 in scholarships
Three scholarships will be awarded to the participants who create the best viral video about driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The scholarship is open to anybody (high school students, college students and/or film enthusiasts).
3. My Everyday Road Trip
Deadline: March 29
Grand Prize: $5,000 gas gift card
Video-optional contest. You may choose to submit a video, photo, or story detailing your not-so-everyday, everyday road trip.
4. Project Yellow Light
Deadline: April 1
First Prize: $5,000 in scholarships
Make a short video to motivate, persuade and encourage your peers not to drive distracted. You can video yourself, a group of people, make a cartoon, or do a music video. Just keep it to 25 or 55 seconds or less.
Have fun working on your teen safe driving projects, and don’t forget to use truthful information. As always, you can get inspiration, ideas, and details on traffic rules and laws by taking a drivers ed course.
Feels like the winter has almost gone away…almost! The cold season likes to fight for its place and loves to surprise with sudden blizzards and snowfall, which don’t make driving a breeze. The best advice of all time is not to drive in bad weather conditions, unless you really have to, but there can be circumstances when you’d better know how to deal with winter driving.
Example: during a ski trip to the mountains, snowstorms can catch you off the guard. In March, the adverse wind is warmer, lift tickets are cheaper and slopes are not as crowded as during the holiday season. But despite the fact that it’s still a really good time to enjoy the extreme winter thrills, bad weather and road conditions can become a fly in the ointment of your spotless trip.
To remain safe and sound during your winter adventure, check out some tips on driving in adverse weather conditions. Or, even better, take a defensive driving course to ensure that you know how to deal with the vast range of unpredictable and most dangerous road situations.
And even if you’re a perfect driver, it’s not always up to you to handle all the winter driving issues; your little metal darling should be ready for the challenges of the cold as well. Check out this list of the things you can do to winterize your car.
Don’t forget that on some mountain roads tire chains are required. Check in advance for info on the place you are going, and be prepared to shoe your horse to make it stable for winter driving on slippery roads. Consider saving some money by renting the chains from a local auto parts shop, since the price near a ski resort can be few times higher.
You can also familiarize yourself with how to install the chains, so you can do it yourself instead of waiting in a lane to be assisted.
And again, being extremely attentive on the road is half the battle, so be careful while driving to winter activities.
Did your morning rush cause you to skip your breakfast again? Planning to trade it for a quick bite during your commute? Not a good idea! Yes, it is bad for your digestive system, but what’s more important, eating and driving is extremely dangerous!
Eating behind the wheel is probably the least discussed topic in the list of most common driving distractions. The habit of having a snack or drinking coffee while steering the wheel may seem pretty innocent, but it can have bad consequences for road users; yet this occurs more often than we could think.
Statistics on Eating and Driving
Like any other distraction, eating is a dangerous activity that takes your attention away from driving.
- While eating, a driver’s reaction speed is lowered by 44%
- While drinking, a driver’s reaction speed is lowered by 22%
- While drinking, the driver is 18% more likely to experience bad control over the lane
A study done by ExxonMobil surveyed 1,000 drivers and found that over 70% admit to eating behind the wheel and over 83% admit to drinking beverages while driving.
Some U.S. cities have already banned this kind of distracted driving. Drivers in Huron, South Dakota will be fined $100 for eating and drinking beverages behind the wheel.
Hidden Dangers of Eating in the Moving Car
You need just a few seconds to grab your sandwich and unwrap it, and that same amount of time is all it takes to lose control of the vehicle due to distraction or hands taken off the steering wheel.
- Spilled hot drinks are hazardous themselves, not to mention that all the attempts to wipe the spills from your sparkling dress or suit will make you forget about the traffic rules, driving and the road.
- Fried food and pizza inevitably make your hands greasy and slippery, which gives you less control over the steering wheel and the gear stick.
- Crumbs, splashes of soda and other dropped bits of food will incite drivers’ instinctive reactions to clean the mess immediately, before it becomes a permanent stain. Needless to say this doesn’t help safe driving.
Snack or Safety?
So, by refusing to sip coffee or chew on snacks behind the wheel and instead having meals before or after the trip, you can significantly increase everyone’s safety on the roads.
To learn more about potentially dangerous activities, about the ways to recognize and avoid them, take a defensive driving course and become an exceptional driver, who knows how to deal with different road and in-car situations.
In the United States, 36 million people are of Irish descent. Compare that to the population of Ireland: only 4.4 million. So, guess what country in the world will have the most festive and large-scale celebration of St. Patrick’s Day? Americans like the holiday and very often go truly crazy with themed parties and liquor consumption. Planning to have a blast? Be careful! Planning to get on the road? Be extra careful and don’t experiment with drinking and driving!
One more interesting fact about St. Patrick’s Day: about 13 million pints of Guinness are consumed on this day. No doubt this amount of booze makes a lot of people in big and small towns around the country jolly and carefree, especially if March 17th falls on a weekend day, as it does this year. St. Patrick’s Day is on Sunday, which means that fans of the green holiday won’t be held back by weekday commitments. So expect excited, loud, tipsy crowds starting their first lap of the Irish pub crawl early in the morning. If you are planning to be a part of that colorful, lively group of people, plan your transportation ahead of time.
If drinking is not part of your Sunday plan, but driving is, watch out for:
- Intoxicated walkers who pay no attention to lights or crosswalks.
- Closed streets and detours caused by street fairs, performances and local parades.
- People who are going to get behind the wheel while impaired. Help them make other arrangements to get home safely.
- Seat belts. Make sure that all the passengers in your car are buckled up. Even if you are sober and a really good driver, you can’t tell about others on the road.
- The temptation to have a drink before hitting the road.
Warning signs and anti-drinking and driving campaigns are everywhere at all times. But it seems like a lot of people don’t take them seriously or just don’t apply the rules, laws and just common sense to themselves, hoping that a couple glasses of wine won’t have an effect on years of driving skills. But the statistics are terrifying! According to the CDC, American adults drink alcohol and get behind the wheel about 112 million times a year, causing over 10,000 deaths a year. One in three deaths from collisions involve drinking and driving.
Law enforcement tries to fight the terrifying numbers, and as on any other hard-drinking holiday, special patrol will be on the roads and freeways to crack down on drunk drivers on St Patrick’s Day.