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How Does Tire Pressure Affect Fuel Economy?

When shopping for a car, particularly if you’re a commuter, you’re likely to hear the phrase “fuel economy” parlayed about the dinner table or wherever you discuss such matters. Whether you’re a commuter, business owner, or fleet manager, fuel economy deserves your attention. After all, fuel economy translates directly to your bottom line, whether it’s how much it will cost you to get to work or school, or how much refueling costs will affect profits or pricing strategy.

Type Matters

In talking about fuel economy, vehicle type strongly determines what kind of fuel economy you can expect, and it’s obvious that a full-size SUV isn’t going to give you as many miles of gas per gallon (MPG) as a hybrid compact car. On the other hand, even when comparing identical vehicles, there are many things that can affect individual fuel economy, such as vehicle condition, state of repair, and driver habits – even climate. After many studies on the subject, one maintenance item stands out above all else: Proper tire pressure. Drivers aren’t checking and adjusting tire pressure often enough or even to the correct specification.

A November 2012 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) effectiveness study found the average non-TPMS American car’s tires were underinflated by 1.4 pounds per square inch (PSI), ranging from 0.56 PSI to 2.52 PSI underinflated. The average tire underinflation for direct, TPMS-equipped vehicles was just 0.35 PSI.

After tire failures caused nearly 1,000 injuries and fatalities in the late 1990s, NHTSA enacted the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act, or the TREAT Act. Among other provisions, TREAD mandates TPMS in all vehicles since September 1, 2007. Tire pressure was high on the list of those tire failures, but that’s not all. Aside from affecting traction, tread wear, ride quality, and directional stability, tire pressure also affects fuel economy. Most realize underinflated tires increase your vehicle’s drag, which increases fuel consumption. But, by how much, exactly?

How Much Does Tire Pressure Affect Fuel Economy?

The same NHTSA study revealed every 1% decrease in tire pressure correlated to a 0.3% reduction in fuel economy. For example, let’s take a typical small sedan rated for 25 MPG, whose tires should be set at 32 PSI.

  • If the driver ignores tire pressure for a month – tires naturally lose 1 PSI to 2 PSI per month – the resulting pressure drop could reduce fuel economy to 23.1 MPG, on average.
  • Even in the same day, temperature can swing over 20 °F, affecting our sample commuter’s fuel economy by a couple MPGs.
  • Changing from summer to winter, a typical drop of 50 °F translates to about 5 PSI underinflation. In addition to the cold-weather fuel economy impact, the extra rolling resistance will reduce fuel economy to just 20.3 MPG.

To test this, Edmunds.com conducted a tire pressure study that including over 200 of their employees’ vehicles. The group discovered that their own employees, all automotive enthusiasts to begin with, had underinflated tires on average of 2.24 PSI, meaning they’re about 7% underinflated. On our sample commuter, this might translate to real-world fuel economy of 22.9 MPG, not counting traffic conditions, climate changes, and driving habits.

Myth: One might be tempted to think, “If 32 PSI gets me 25 MPG and 30 PSI gets me 23 MPG, won’t 27 PSI give me 26.9 MPG?” It seems a logical leap, but real-world numbers don’t follow the assumption. Additional tire pressure might give you a couple MPGs, but would impact ride quality and traction, for an ultimately uncomfortable and possibly dangerous ride. There are better ways to improve fuel economy, such as by simply slowing down or not carrying so much junk in the trunk.

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Driving Your Parents’ Old Car? Save on Gas Money with These Tips

New cars are getting more fuel efficient every year, but you don’t have to buy an expensive hybrid to get better gas mileage. Instead, you can teach your old car new tricks! There are several things you can do to make sure your aging car sips fuel instead of guzzling it. It all boils down to a little extra effort and planning on your part, but the rewards will be totally worth it.

1. Keep Up with Regular Maintenance

It may seem obvious, but many people neglect important regular maintenance with their older vehicles.

Keep tires properly inflated. Low tire pressure can hurt fuel economy, and it’s also dangerous,” says Brian Moody, Executive Editor, Autotrader. In fact, every 1 psi drop in tire pressure can lower gas mileage by about 0.2%, and you can improve your mileage by up to 3% in some cases with the right pressure. Most cars have a sticker on the inside of the driver’s door detailing the recommended pressure for each tire.

Be sure to use the right grade of oil and keep up with your oil and oil filter changes to ensure your engine runs smoothly. Replace your engine air filter regularly, as clogged filters can impact performance and fuel economy in older cars. And finally, don’t ignore that dreaded “check engine” light! A failed O2 sensor, for example, will cause your engine to run less efficiently.

2. Spend a Little Extra Time Planning

Just a little planning will go a long way in saving you gas, even if you drive an older car. It can also save you a good bit of stress and anxiety as well! Here are our top tips for thinking ahead to save money on gas:

Combine Your Trips: Carpooling and Errand Runs

Obviously, the less you drive your car, the less fuel you’ll burn. So, when planning out your week, include carpooling to work with your coworkers or friends to share the gas bill. Plan all your meals for the week, so you only need one trip to the grocery store. Combine all your weekly errands into a single trip, and you’ll end up saving both time and gas in the long run.

Plan Your Routes for Fewer Stops and Less Traffic

“Don’t spend a lot of time letting the car idle,” Moody said. “The general rule is that letting your car idle longer than two or three minutes is a waste of fuel.”

The more time you spend stopped, the more excess gas you’ll burn. Plus, stop-and-go driving burns far more gas than cruising at a constant speed. Try to plan your routes to avoid traffic lights, stop signs, and left turns. The shortest route isn’t always the most fuel-efficient, also. Consider driving outside of peak traffic hours, as more cars on the road mean more slowdowns and stops for you. If you do find yourself stopped for longer than a minute or two, turn off your engine to avoid excess idling.

Know Your Route and Allow Plenty of Time

The better you know your route, the less chance you’ll get lost and drive extra miles to find your way again. Before you leave, it’s best to understand exactly where you’re going and how you’ll get there to avoid potential wrong turns and wasted gas. If you’re headed to an urban or downtown area, be sure to plan your parking ahead of time, so you’re not circling the block over and over looking for a space.

Also, it’s very important to allow yourself plenty of time for your trip, so you won’t feel inclined to speed. The faster your drive, and the more rapidly you accelerate, the less efficient your car will be.

“Drive moderately,” Moody recommended. “Accelerate with the flow of traffic, and never stomp the accelerator. Also, when driving on the highway, keep your car’s speed steady. Speeding up and slowing down constantly wastes gas.”

All of this is much easier if you give yourself plenty of time to drive to your destination, and you’ll feel less stress, too.

Take Only What You Need

If you don’t clean out your car regularly, including your trunk, you might be surprised how much extra weight you’re lugging around unnecessarily. Even a few boxes of books can add enough weight to harm your fuel economy, especially with stop-and-go driving. A car full of stuff you don’t need is just like driving around with an extra passenger!

Also, if you have a roof rack or roof-mounted luggage carrier, take a little extra time to remove it when not in use. These add-ons can cause a surprising amount of extra air resistance, especially at highway speeds. That can lead to as much as 25% more gas burned. Ouch!

Use a Windshield Screen While Parked on Hot Days

We all know the feeling of getting in a sweltering car that’s been parked in the sun on a hot day. Blasting the air conditioning to cool off your car’s interior drains engine power and burns extra gas. So, use a reflective windshield screen or sun shade, and park your car facing the sun. This will drop your interior temperature significantly and allow you to run your air conditioning less to feel comfortable, saving fuel.

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Only 9% of Teens Keep a Road Map in Their Car. Let’s Make That Number Higher.

As drivers increasingly rely on satellite navigation systems and smartphone apps for driving directions, paper maps and road atlases have fallen by the wayside.

A recent study by Cars on Demand found that 85% of people place more trust in electronic navigation devices and systems over maps, and almost half would just give up their journey if their navigation system broke. More shockingly, it found that only one in 10 young drivers keep a road map in their car.

So, what’s our take? This statistic should be much, much higher, and here are three reasons why:

  1. A road map’s battery can’t run out.
  2. Road maps don’t unexpectedly lose their service or signal.
  3. Road maps keep you aware of your surroundings, as opposed to a lone, screen-view shot of the road you’re on.

Obtaining a road map is a piece of cake: They’re inexpensive and easy to find online, and most gas stations and rest areas have them readily available, sometimes free of charge.

Here are our six steps to road map mastery.

1.   Find the Right Map

Maps and road atlases come in many sizes or “scales.” Some are designed to show an entire state or larger region and may only include major state routes and interstate highways. These are perfect for longer road trips through unfamiliar parts of the country, but they won’t be any help if you’re trying to navigate a city. Other maps are designed specifically for certain cities, metropolitan areas, or regions within a state. These are more detailed and helpful when navigating across town.

We recommend stocking your vehicle with three basic maps to get started:

  1. A comprehensive road atlas, like this one from Rand McNally. This atlas includes a map of every state and Canadian province, detailed maps of the 50 largest cities in North America, and a mileage chart showing the distance between many U.S. cities, and more.
  2. A detailed map of your home state.
  3. A detailed map of your hometown/city.

Be sure to keep your map collection updated, as new road construction and road changes happen frequently.

2.   Use the Legend and Scale

All road maps include a legend either toward the bottom of the map or on its back. The legend will explain what all the different road lines, colors, and symbols on the map mean. The more detailed the map, the more important it is to understand the legend and what it’s showing.

Maps also include a “scale,” often near the legend. The scale is a line-of-measurement graphic showing how distances on the map correspond to distances in the real world. Using the scale, it’s easy to estimate how far away your destination is, or how long you’ll need to drive on a given road before making a turn.

3.   Find the Compass Rose and Orient Yourself

Many road maps are laid out with north facing upward. But, this isn’t the case with all maps, so it’s important to consult a map’s compass rose to help you orient yourself. That way, you can rotate your map to face the direction you’re going, confirm you’re heading in the right direction, and begin to visualize your route.

4.   Consult the Index

Most detailed road maps include an index. This shows you where, on the map, you can find a certain city, road, or landmark, depending on the map’s scale. Often, maps are laid out with a grid pattern, with letters and numbers representing sections of the map. The index will list locations, landmarks, and roads with their corresponding grid location, showing you where to look.

Using the index, it’s easy to find your current location and your destination. From there, you can start planning your route.

5.   Plan Your Route

Once you’ve located your starting point and destination on a map, the next step is to connect the dots. Try to find the simplest route with the fewest turns. Think about avoiding major highways, intersections, and shopping centers during rush hour in the morning or evening. Use the map’s scale to estimate distances and set your car’s trip odometer to help you stay on track. Also pay attention to major intersections, parks, and landmarks noted on your map, as spotting these will help keep you headed in the right direction.

6.   Hit the Road

When navigating your route with passengers, it’s best to have someone follow your progress on the map, spotting landmarks, and alerting you to upcoming turns. If you’re driving alone, however, only consult your map before you set off; it is never OK to use a map while you’re driving. Distracted driving is a significant cause of accidents; in 2015, distracted driving caused 3,477 deaths and 391,000 injuries in the U.S. Instead, pull over, reorient yourself, find your current location on your map, and adjust your route accordingly.

If your cell phone or GPS device dies or stops working, a paper map or road atlas will save the day. It may take a little more time and effort to get to your destination, but you might be surprised how well they work and how easy they are to use.

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Learn to Adjust and Use Your Rear-View and Side-View Mirrors

Your vehicle’s side- and rear-view mirrors are designed to give you a good view of the road behind you while minimizing blind spots. Adjusting them properly is very easy, but it’s also key to staying safe on the road.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), each year, blind spots factor into about 840,000 side-to-side collisions, helping cause 300 deaths, plus thousands of injuries millions of dollars in damages. Proper mirror adjustment and use can help minimize blind spots and reduce the chances of a blind spot collision.

If you’re driving a car that is not your own, or if you recently let someone else drive your car, it can be very easy to forget to adjust your mirrors before you hit the road. Mirrors can also fall out of adjustment due to vibration or bumps as you drive. However, it’s never a good idea to try to adjust your mirrors while driving, as distracted driving is a major cause of vehicle accidents. Instead, get in the habit of taking a quick glance at all your mirrors before you set off to make sure your rearward visibility is optimized.

Follow the steps below to adjust and use your mirrors properly.

How to Adjust Your Side Mirrors

Here’s how to adjust your left and right side-view mirrors for the best visibility:

  1. Locate your car’s mirror adjustment controls. Most modern cars have an electronic switch that controls the position of your left and right-side mirrors. These switches will have buttons that move your mirrors upward, downward, left, and right. They’ll also have a button that switches control between the left mirror and the right mirror. It’s important to know where this switch is located in any car you drive and how to operate it, so it’s easy to adjust your side mirrors.
  2. Adjust the side-to-side position. Toggle the side mirror adjustment switch to control your left-side mirror. Then, move your head until it’s resting against the lift-side window. Look at your left-side mirror, and adjust it until you can just barely see the edge of your car in the inside of the mirror. Then, toggle the mirror adjustment switch to control your right-side mirror. Move your head to the right, so it’s positioned right above your car’s center console. Now, set the ride-side mirror, so you can just start to see the edge of your car on the inside of the mirror. This positioning will help maximize your view of the road behind you while minimizing your blind spots.
  3. Adjust the up-and-down position. Use the side mirror adjustment switches to set your side-view mirrors vertical position. You should give yourself the best possible view of the road behind, but exact vertical placement often comes down to personal preference. You don’t want to see too much sky or too much road. Instead, it’s best to balance the position of each mirror so you can see traffic clearly as well as curbs while parallel parking.

How to Adjust Your Rear-View Mirror

Once your side mirrors are adjusted properly, it’s easy to adjust your rear-view mirror. Be sure to sit normally and use minimal head movements when looking at your rear-view mirror. Then, manually move the mirror until your view is straight out of your car’s rear window, centered, and level. The goal is always to maximize your rearward view.

Depending on your vehicle, your rear-view mirror may also have a manual adjustment tab for night-time driving. These tabs are generally in the center of your mirror, along the bottom. Moving the tab all the way forward or backward will adjust the tilt position of the rear-view mirror. In the daytime position, it will look normal. But, in the night-time position, you will be unable to see much of anything, except headlights. Use this position for driving at night, so other cars’ headlights don’t obscure your vision, but be sure to switch back for day-time driving. If your rear-view mirror does not have a manual adjustment tab, it should handle this switch for you automatically.

How to Use Your Mirrors While Driving

Together, your car’s mirrors will give you a good view of the road around and behind your car. It’s best to scan all of your mirrors frequently while driving, using quick glances rather than long, extended stares that can distract you from the road ahead. As you’re driving, glance at each mirror roughly once every 10 seconds, at minimum. This way, you can build up a mental picture of the cars around you on the road.

While mirrors alone will not eliminate your blind spots fully, having them adjusted properly and using them correctly will help you keep track of other cars around you. You should always check your blind spots with a quick turn of the head before changing lanes or making any other lateral movements. But, actively monitoring your mirrors and tracking your fellow motorists can help you avoid surprises and potential accidents.

 

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How to Handle Windshield Damage before It Spiderwebs out of Control

In the blink of an eye, rocks kicked up by a passing vehicle can hurl toward your windshield, causing a (hopefully) small ding or crack to appear. The crack may look minor at first, but know that it will gradually spread across your windshield in a spiderweb pattern. If you act fast—before the crack spreads—and have it repaired by a professional, you’ll hopefully avoid the need for a full windshield replacement. Here’s how to proceed, quickly.

1. Skip the Quick Fix Products

As a first-time driver, you might be tempted to use quick fixes to repair the windshield crack yourself. Unfortunately, super glue, clear nail polish, epoxy, and other DIY windshield repair methods never work for long. Worse yet, contaminating the crack in the glass may prevent you from acquiring professional repairs, says Joe Koncikowski, Owner of Lucky Dog Auto Glass in Kent, Wash.

“We have to be able to open a path to vacuum out the air and displace it with resin,” Koncikowski said. “If any part of that path is blocked, then the repair will not be successful. Typically, there is only one chance to get a repair done correctly. If it isn’t done properly the first time, there usually isn’t a second chance.”

Skip the hassle by heading straight to the experts once a crack appears. You just have to make it to the auto glass shop, or have a mobile company come to you, before the crack spreads too far for this simple repair. According to Jon Cox, Manager of Patriot Auto Glass, “If you put a quarter over the impact point of the chip, all the damage must fit underneath” to qualify for repairs. The location also plays a role in determining whether a chip or crack is repairable. Your auto glass professional will assess the damage and let you know the best course of action.

2. Treat Your Car Gently

Until you acquire professional auto glass repairs, it is important to treat your car gently to try to deter the crack from growing. Concussive forces, rapid temperature changes, and external pressure can all instantly expand the crack across your entire windshield.

Remember to:

  • Close doors slowly and with great care to limit concussive forces.
  • Park in the shade and skip heat and/or air conditioning to prevent rapid temperature changes.
  • Delay car washes, especially drive-through systems, to avoid external pressure.

Once you have your windshield repaired or replaced by a professional, you can resume your normal activities without worrying about the integrity of your auto glass.

3. Call Auto Glass Shops for Price Quotes

Auto glass professionals can quickly and easily provide price quotes over the phone, so take advantage by calling several local shops for comparison purposes. Toss out the lowest and highest quotes, and then select from the rest to find the best combination of quality and value. Remember to check current reviews to confirm that the auto glass shop has a great reputation with past and current customers. Once you have selected a shop, call ahead to schedule an appointment before bringing your vehicle down.

Go Mobile for Quicker Service

In most states, current laws make it illegal to drive with dings or cracks in your windshield, and for good reason, too. With forward visibility compromised by windshield damage, your risk of collisions with roadway obstacles, pedestrians, and other vehicles greatly increases. Furthermore, if a collision does occur, an undamaged windshield can help your vehicle retain its rigid structure to help protect you and your passengers from injury.

Despite your status as one of many first-time drivers, if you follow the tips above, you can quickly resolve windshield cracks like a true driving veteran. Remember to jump into action as soon as the crack appears to keep your windshield in optimal condition for years to come.

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Intersections & You: A Guide for New Drivers

Intersections can be tricky and scary, and many new and seasoned drivers have run afoul of traffic at intersections. Staying alert and observant, along with minimizing distractions, will help new drivers stay safe at intersections.

Washington State Patrol Trooper Rick Johnson tells his driving-age children to wait a few moments at a newly green light, as others may disobey the law.

“You’re sitting at a red light and it turns green, take a breath and look both ways as if its not green,” Johnson said. “Even in my police car, the light turns green and then someone comes through the intersection that would have hit you if you’d taken off right away.”

For Director of Government and Public Affairs for AAA Oregon Marie Dodds, her advice for new drivers at intersections is to minimize distractions. It can be easy to pick up a phone to post, but it isn’t safe and could be illegal.

“Be a safe driver,” Dodds said. “AAA’s advice is to ditch the distractions, be a safe driver, and let everyone get home from work or appointments or wherever they are driving.”

Other helpful tip and advice from our experts includes:

  1. Always be observant of other vehicles, and especially observant of pedestrians
    • They may not do what you expect them to do, whether legal or illegal
  2. Minimize distractions, don’t use cell phones or post to social media until you are no longer in the driver’s seat
    • Use hands-free connections for calls made during driving
  3. If an accident happens at an intersection pull off the road and onto the shoulder (if possible):
    • Contact the other driver, exchange insurance information
    • Pull off the road and onto the shoulder (if cars are able to move)
    • Call 911 and wait in your car until authorities arrive at the scene

Traffic Circles

At a traffic circle, also known as a roundabout, oncoming traffic will come from the left with drivers merging with traffic flowing counter-clockwise around the circle.

4-Way Intersections

At a 4-way intersection, can be an a-typical, equilateral cross or have odd-angle approaches. Be sure to look all directions and wait until its time to make a maneuver.

T-Intersections

T-intersections may or may not have a stop for traffic crossing the top of the ‘T’. Be especially watchful and ensure there’s more than enough time to merge in the intended direction of travel.

Y-Intersections

These are usually minor roads connecting with more major routes and may or may not have three-way stopping, so proceed when safe.

Uncontrolled

At uncontrolled intersections, neither car has vehicle his right of way so it’s usually a ‘first-come, first-go’ basis.

Pedestrian Crosswalks

In many cities, pedestrians have the right of way when using a marked crosswalk. Whether the crosswalk has a stop-sign or not, drivers should stop to allow pedestrians safe passage across the street.

When you’re driving around town, using these tips and tricks to approaching an intersection can help you out in the long run.

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What Safe Driving Resolutions Are You Making for 2018?

Most of us spend a great deal of time in our car. And frankly, we may not always drive as courteously or safely as we should, which puts ourselves and others in danger. As we celebrate the beginning of a new year, let’s resolve to actively curb dangerous driving behaviors.

Not a fan of making resolutions? We totally understand. However, accidents are on the rise; 94% of road incidents are caused by driver decisions and attitudes behind the wheel. Most of us also don’t realize this, and take our safety in the driver’s seat for granted. As you begin making plans for 2018, ensure your safety and pledge to be mindful, cautious, and courteous behind the wheel.

Here’s a list of recommended common-sense, safe driving resolutions to get you started:

DUI Prevention

  • “I resolve not to drink any alcohol or take any impairing drug or medication if I’m going to be driving.”
  • “I resolve not to ask anyone who has been drinking, ‘Are you okay to drive?’, because I know that they really aren’t.”
  • “I resolve not to knowingly let anyone drive buzzed, drunk, or drugged.”
  • “I resolve to stay sober if I am the designated driver, even if I’m offered free drinks.”

Mobile Devices

  • “I resolve to focus on the road and not text or talk on my cell phone while driving.”
  • “I resolve to not call or text anyone when I think they may be driving.”
  • “I resolve to turn off my phone or put it out of reach when I’m driving so that I don’t get distracted.”

Safe Driving

  • “I resolve to require everyone, myself included, to buckle up before every ride, day or night.”
  • “I resolve not to be a rebel on the road, to follow speed, red light, safe turns and all other traffic laws.”
  • “I resolve to be a courteous commuter and a well-mannered motorist.”
  • “I resolve to share the road safely with motorists, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians alike.”

We challenge all our safe driving readers to pick three resolutions from this list to work on throughout 2018. You, too, can help make U.S. roads safer for all this coming year.

Source: California Office for Traffic Safety

Also on DriversEd.com:

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How to Report a Drunk or Distracted Driver

How to Report a Drunk or Distracted DriverSay you’re out on the road this holiday season and you spot one or more of the telltale signs of a drunk or distracted driver — swerving, weaving in between lanes, driving too fast or too slow, tailgating, braking erratically, ignoring traffic signs, etc. This makes you nervous, as it would for any safe driver. So what, if anything, should you do?

Statistics show in 2015, there were more than 390,000 injuries and 3,400 fatalities attributed to distracted driving in the U.S., while alcohol-impaired drivers caused 10,265 fatalities and over 290,000 injuries. Car accidents spike over the winter holidays when weather conditions can be dangerous, holiday travel means roads are more congested, and alcohol consumption increases. The pervasiveness of these incidents means that when you suspect another driver of being impaired by alcohol or distraction, you have an obligation to report them.

There are several things you can do to take precaution:

Get out of the way. If you witness erratic driving, before you take any other steps, make sure you are out of the car’s danger zone. Put a safe distance between you and the other car, either by slowing down to let them pass or pulling ahead. Do not tail the other car to collect information, or attempt to stop the driver.

Take note of important information. If you can do so while maintaining a safe distance, take note of the make, model, license plate number, and any other distinctive features of the car, driver, and passengers. If you have a passenger in your car, ask them to record the information.

If you feel you or others are in danger, call 9-1-1. Report a dangerous situation by calling 9-1-1. Share the information you’ve gathered about the other driver, your location and direction of travel, citing the specific behavior you’ve witnessed (i.e. swerving, excessive speed). Have your passenger make this call, or pull over to use the phone if you are alone.

For more minor incidents, report to a non-emergency number. If you don’t feel the behavior endangers others, but you are still concerned, you can report the driver to your local police non-emergency number. Some states have numbers designated for reporting dangerous drivers. In New Jersey, unless the situation is life-threatening, citizens are asked to report drunk or distracted drivers to the #77 Dangerous Driver System. In Colorado, motorists can dial *277 to report aggressive driving that does not put other drivers at risk. Alternatively, local city or police departments often have an online form for reporting reckless driving.

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3 Easy Ways Parents Can Exemplify Good Driving Behavior

As parents, you want to keep your children safe and teach them right from wrong. In a world where peer pressure and doing what is cool rules, it can be hard to get these lessons across, especially when it comes to driving. One of the easiest ways to do this is to demonstrate good driver role model behavior for your teens.

When parents drive distracted or model other types of poor driving behavior, it does influence teens. A 2014 survey found that parents even phone their teens while their teen is driving, and may not relent until the teen answers. And studies show that teens who are around distracted-driving parents are two to four times more likely to drive distracted themselves.

“The most important thing is for parents to remember from the time their children turn around and face forward in their car seat, they are watching parents driving—and learning,” said Maureen Vogel, Senior Manager, Public Relations, National Safety Council.

1. Stop Behind-the-Wheel Cell Phone Use

One way to model good behavior is not to text while driving. Teens see enough of this on television shows, movies, and possibly in real life with their friends. Whether you know it or not, they do look up to you and you can make a difference. Show them by example that it is not worth risking their lives to answer a question, see a picture, or watch a video while driving.

2. Get a Good Nights Sleep

It’s estimated that nearly 84 million Americans drive drowsy every day. Drowsy driving constitutes impaired driving, and with severe sleep deprivation, driving becomes extremely risky. But, getting enough sleep can be difficult. This can be especially true if you work a demanding job, or for teens, if they have a lot of after-school commitments and homework. Explain to your teenager why it is so important to get a good night’s sleep and that they should never get behind the wheel if they are feeling drowsy.

Also, know that drinking coffee, listening to loud music, or letting fresh air in will not do the trick—for neither you or your teen. A good night’s rest is the best option for having a safe day behind the wheel. From there, be the example and make sure that both you and your teen get a full eight hours rest every night.

3. Do Not Eat While Driving

These days it is so easy to stop at the drive-thru and grab a meal. We are often rushing from here to there and often must eat on the go. However, this is not a good example for our teenagers.

Rustling in bags, passing food to other passengers, and fiddling with straws is distracting and can lead to accidents. Instead, set the standard by either pulling into a parking space for five minutes and eat what you can of your food or simply wait until you get to your next destination.

Overall, Vogel cautions parents to be mindful of their teens’ always-watching eye.

“Eighty percent of teen drivers look to their parents to be their good driving role models,” Vogel said. “They really pay attention and look to them for guidance”

In providing your teenager with good driving skills and common sense, you are setting your teenager up for a safe, long-lasting driving experience.

Read more from DriversEd.com, I Drive Safely, and eDriving:

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Navigate the Waters of Parent-Taught Drivers Education in Texas

teen driver and instructorTeaching their teens to drive is a rite of passage for many Texas parents, but the process is still often nerve-wracking for both parties. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to make teaching your teen to drive as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Our app, Mentor for Families by eDriving, allows you to monitor your teen’s driving progress in real time, acting as your child’s personal driving coach and generating a FICO® Safe Driving Score after every trip. Information is stored on your teen’s favorite device – their smartphone. As you use the app to monitor your teen’s progress, read on for our recommendation on the right path to take toward parent-taught drivers education success.

Get Started

Start the teaching process by completing Form DL-92, Request for a New Parent-Taught Drivers Education Packet, online. Before you receive your packet, the state of Texas will conduct a simple background check, ensuring you are indeed the student’s parent, step-parent, grandparent, foster parent or legal guardian, and that you have had a valid Texas driver’s license for at least the prior three years. Parents whose license has been revoked or suspended for traffic-related offenses within the past three years are ineligible, as are any parents with six or more current points on their license. Once this background check is concluded, expect to receive the packet in two to three weeks.

Act as an Educator

When you start teaching your child to drive, you’re no longer just a parent – you’re also an educator. That means your duties extend beyond teaching your teen how to back up and parallel park. You must also talk to your teen about safe driving practices and how to spot issues before they occur. As a parent, you already know that much of driving safely involves watching out for the other guy, and it’s a lesson to impart to your teenager.

Too many parents make the mistake of only taking their teens driving on local, low-traffic roads in the light of day. For teens to really understand the rudiments of driving and traffic safety, they must experience highway driving, driving at night and during inclement weather, and driving on unfamiliar roads. Real life driving involves these situations, and the best way for your teen to learn to navigate these circumstance is by having a concerned parent along for advice.

Practice, Practice, Practice

If there’s a mantra for teaching your teen to drive, it’s “Practice, practice, practice.” Texas requires just 44 hours of supervised behind the wheel driving, of which 10 must be conducted at night. Ideally, you and your child will spend even more time in driver training, so your teen receives more time behind the wheel and you gain confidence in your teen’s ability.

Use the Driver Education Log Sheet

Parents are responsible for maintaining the Driver Education Log Sheet, a document containing the necessary objectives for course completion. As your teen reaches each driving milestone, you must sign off on the log sheet. When your child is ready to apply for their driver’s license, the sheet is presented to your local Department of Public Safety.

Involved parents keep teens safe. The time you spend training your teen to drive serves as an important bonding experience, but it is so much more. Research shows that teens with involved parents are much less likely to get into car accidents than those lacking strong parental involvement levels. Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed may prove one of the most critical gifts you’ve ever given your teenager.

Read more of our resources on teen drivers education:

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