Warming Up Your Car: The Right Way to Get on the Road in Cold Weather

winter drivingDoesn’t everything seem to take longer during the winter—longer to get yourself out of bed, longer to get yourself ready, longer to start your car and get on the road? The thing is, it’s not like we have any less to do when it’s cold, so it’s easy to feel rushed and start cutting corners—even when you thought you had plenty of time.

Our point is, winter mornings can be tough. To help make them a little easier for you, we’ve put together this short guide to getting your car ready for driving as safely and quickly as possible when it’s cold. If it’s taking you too long get on the road in cold weather, it may be that there are steps you could be doing more efficiently, or steps you could be skipping altogether!

For instance, do you really need to warm up your engine for several minutes before getting on the road? Is there any way to get your windows to defog any faster? How can you make sure you’re not wasting gas as you get ready? Read on to find out!
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The Road to Self-Driving Cars: California Releases New Rules

4 way intersectionSelf-driving cars are getting closer to reality every day, but before people can start using them, the governments and agencies that oversee the roads are going to have to set some rules for how they should be used. Will drivers have the ability to take control? How will they share the road with other drivers? And if a self-driving car gets into a crash, who’s responsible?

Last month, the California DMV took an initial step towards answering these questions by releasing the nation’s first proposed rules to govern the public use of autonomous vehicles. These guidelines have been eagerly awaited, as California’s rules will provide a framework for other states and the federal government to follow as they consider their own policies for self-driving cars.
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Driving around the World: Weird Rules for Getting Your License in Other Countries

Driving instructor observing learner driverIn the United States, getting your license can be a complicated process. For one thing, every state in the country has a Graduated Drivers License (GDL) policy in which drivers under 18 must pass through several stages of restricted driving before they are eligible for a full license. Moreover, most states require novice drivers to complete an official drivers ed course, sometimes until they’re as old as 25. Finally, drivers of all age must pass written and behind-the-wheel driving tests at their state’s official licensing agency before they can be issued a license.

But as frustrating as the process can sometimes be, we know that these steps play a role in making roads safer. For instance, studies show that taking drivers ed is associated with fewer tickets and collisions, and that crash rates among young teenagers have dropped by 20% to 40% in places where elements of GDL programs had been adopted. Nevertheless, not everyone does things the way we do in the United States, and some of the ways other countries deal with drivers licensing may surprise you.
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Making New Year’s Driving Resolutions to Make the Roads Safer

driving at duskIt’s that time of year again: the time of year for those not-so-subtle reminders from friends and random strangers that your life might be better if only you would commit to making some changes.

I’m not usually the type to make New Year’s resolutions, because I think the other 364 days are all perfectly good times to begin self-improvement. But because of a helpful article from the California Office of Traffic Safety, I am making an exception this year to do my part to make the roads safer.
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Driving Under the Influence: The Dangers of Marijuana-impaired Driving

marijuana plantOver the past couple weeks, we’ve examined the issue of driving under the influence, discussing the role of strict laws in reducing the number of drunk drivers on the road and looking at some new approaches to keeping people from driving when they’re intoxicated. But as we consider some potential solutions, we also have to acknowledge that the problem itself is changing, as drug impairment is becoming nearly as common as alcohol impairment. For instance, one study of NHTSA crash data has found that 40% of fatally injured drivers tested positive for drugs in 2013—nearly as many as tested positive for alcohol! In addition, in a recent roadside survey, 22% of drivers tested positive for the presence of some drug (medications included).

In particular, the effect of marijuana on drivers has come under special scrutiny as states around the country continue to relax their prohibitions of it. Already, 23 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states (Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington), as well as Washington, D.C., have also decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana. Yet even before these legalization efforts began, marijuana was the drug (other than alcohol) most frequently detected in drivers; now, with marijuana legalization efforts continuing to gain steam, it’s worth wondering whether the drastic drop in alcohol-related crash fatalities that we’ve seen over the past 30 years is about to be reversed by a drastic rise in marijuana-impaired driving.

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Driving Under the Influence: New Solutions to the Drunk Driving Problem

pour martinis in barIn 2013, more than 32 people died every day because someone decided to get behind the wheel when they’d been drinking. By now, you’d think people would know better! But even though the number of yearly drunk driving deaths has dropped dramatically over the past three decades, there are still countless people who aren’t getting the message. Indeed, one recent survey found that more than four million people may be driving drunk every month!

Traffic laws. Safety technologies. Public awareness campaigns. Education. We’ve already done so much to keep people from getting on the road under the influence of alcohol that it’s hard to believe there’s anyone who doesn’t know how dangerous drinking and driving is. At this point, how can anyone not know that driving drunk can get you arrested—or killed? To be sure, our efforts aren’t wasted; in this case, the price of safety on the road is eternal vigilance, and we should never forget that DUI fatalities are as low as they are only because we’re already doing so many things right.

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of the establishment of a drinking age of 21 in New York, one of the first major victories in the fight against drunk driving. This week is also the beginning of a national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign designed to keep the roads clear of drunk drivers through the holiday season. In the spirit of these efforts, we want to acknowledge just how far we’ve come—and to take a look at some new solutions to help us get even more drunk drivers out from behind the wheel.
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Driving Under the Influence: Do Strict DUI Laws Really Work?

alcohol and car keysYear after year, statistics confirm that the single most dangerous thing a driver can do is get behind the wheel drunk. This is no surprise; after all, the more intoxicated a driver is, the more he or she becomes literally unable to drive safely. But compared with thirty years ago, today less than half as many people every year are dying in drunk driving collisions. Since Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began their campaign against drunk driving in the early 1980s, supporting efforts to increase the legal drinking age and lower the BAC limit, the roads have become vastly safer for everyone.
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New cars could soon include automatic emergency braking

person drivingEvery driver learns about maintaining proper following distance and braking techniques. Knowing when and how to apply the brakes is a critical part of being a safe and defensive driver. But in the near future, even if drivers make a mistake, they may have a backup.
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Happy Thanksgiving! Four Things Drivers Have to Be Thankful for This Year

cars on curve in fallOn this blog (and in our courses), we spend a lot of time reminding you of the dangers you face when you’re on the road. After all, for most of us, driving is one of the most dangerous things we’ll ever do, and unlike most risky activities, driving isn’t something we do on occasion or only once and then never again—it’s something we do on a daily basis! That’s why it’s so important that you never take for granted that nothing serious will go wrong when you’re behind the wheel.

Nevertheless, as we’ve pointed out recently, crash fatality rates in the U.S. have been steadily declining for decades, and in 2013 fewer people died on U.S. roads than during any year since 1949, even as more people are driving than ever before. The truth is, there’s probably never been a better time to be a driver. Now, before you start thinking that you can start slacking off, it’s important to note that one of the main reasons that the roads have become so much less dangerous is because drivers know more about how to keep themselves safe than ever before—and more than ever they’re doing what it takes to protect themselves and everyone with whom they’re sharing the road.

Here at DriversEd.com, we’re grateful whenever a driver is able to avoid a ticket or collision because he or she is paying attention and making the right decisions on the road. But there are plenty more reasons for drivers to give thanks this year, and in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday, we’d like to pay our respects to a few of them here.
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Inequality on the Road: The Hidden Dangers of Driving While Poor

2 car pile upIt’s a fact you’ll hear us repeat over and over again: motor vehicle collisions are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, especially among teenagers. Indeed, in 2013, car crashes represented the number one cause of death for Americans between 15 and 24 years old, and one of the top five causes of death for everyone between 1 and 44 years old. Nevertheless, while driving still remains one of the most dangerous things we do, fewer people died on U.S. roads in 2013 than during any year since 1949—despite the fact that the amount of driving that Americans do has increased sevenfold in that time!

The truth is that driving may be safer now than at any time in history—at least for some. But the unfortunate secret lurking at the center of these encouraging statistics is that not all drivers have benefited equally from these improvements in safety. In particular, drivers who are economically disadvantaged have not only not shared in these gains, but their risk of dying in a crash has actually increased while driving has become safer for everyone else.
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