Know before you go: Who’s in my car?

The busy days of summer are here, putting more cars on the road and drivers behind the wheel. But before you get into the driver’s seat, ask yourself—who’s in my car?

It sounds funny, but it’s important to be aware of who you’re driving with. Not only are you battling more-congested-than-normal roadways this summer (see “Parents, it’s time to review your family’s summer driving habits,”) but adding passengers to the mix only ups the likelihood that you’ll get distracted and crash. And at this time of the year, that could prove to be a dangerous mistake.

Driving with passengers
Dealing with passengers is one of the most frequently reported causes of distraction for drivers, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. Compared to driving with no passengers, a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s risk of death per mile driven increases 44% when carrying one passenger younger than 21. The more passengers, the greater the risk.

“We know that carrying young passengers is a huge risk, but it’s also a preventable one,” said Beth Mosher, Director of Public Affairs, AAA Chicago. “These findings should send a clear message to families that parents can make their teens safer immediately by refusing to allow them to get in the car with other young people, whether they’re behind the wheel or in the passenger seat.”

GDL system
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have a three-stage Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system, which institutes a set of restrictions to gradually build up driving experience under lower-risk conditions in young drivers. Several states, such as California and Indiana, prohibit young drivers with intermediate licenses from driving with peer passengers, but other states, like Florida and Iowa, have no legislation at all. While GDL laws can target the problem of distracted driving, not all states have implemented them to do so.

State by state GDL laws

This map by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows how many young passengers may be carried by an intermediate license holder in each state.

Passengers are YOUR responsibility
When you’re driving, your passengers’ safety is your responsibility. They are relying on you to get them to their destination safely. This means you have an obligation to drive with care – and take steps to keep passengers safe. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat car occupants by 45%, but National Highway Traffic Safety Administration figures show that more than 27 million people don’t buckle up. Enforce a rule – if they’re in your car, they wear a belt!
  • Children 12 and under are safest when seated in the back seat. Young children must be correctly secured in an appropriate, fitted car seat, and the National Safety Council says child restraint systems should go beyond state requirements. Check that your child’s car seat hasn’t expired; the typical use life of a car seat is six to eight years. And check for recalls, too.
  • Occupy small children during the drive with entertaining items such as books, quiet toys, or a DVD player with headphones. If you need to tend to them, stop at a safe place first.
  • Properly restrain your pet when driving with one in your car. Looking away from the road for only two seconds doubles your chance of being in a crash. AAA found that 18% of surveyed dog owners admitted to reaching into the back seat to interact with their dog, and 17% said they’ve allowed their dog to sit in their lap – all huge distractions.

DriversEd.com offers these resources to help you drive safely with various passengers:

 

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3 Things I Learned After Taking eDriving’s One More Second Defensive Driving Course

[Amy Tarczynski, eDriving's contributing teen writer, details her driving experience since completing One More Second.]

Merge like a zipper when entering highwaysI screamed in my car the other day when I was driving. It wasn’t a yell, and it wasn’t an “AHH!”  It was a full-bellied shriek. My voice probably scared my passenger more than the inciting incident did.

Here’s what happened: I was driving on one of the most horrible, poorly designed freeways in Oakland (like I would on any normal afternoon), when an oblivious driver suddenly pulled straight out of his lane and into mine–right into where my car was going. I honked, and swerved over into the adjacent lane unscathed, luckily. No paint was exchanged and no one was hurt, aside from my passenger’s ringing eardrums.

Here’s the thing: This incident (and near collision) did not happen suddenly, nor was it luck that I was able to pull over into the other lane. But I was lucky to have recently taken eDriving’s defensive driving course, One More Second. A few key takeaways from that course stuck with me, helping me avoid a collision that day and on other days since. Here are those three big lessons.

1. What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong
Picture the scene that I observed, pre-scream: I am approaching my exit at highway speed and need to get over, but the two right lanes are full of cars trying to merge onto the freeway before my exit. I’m trying to get right; they’re trying to merge left. I’m going fast, and they’re going slow. Before I even overlap these cars, I am actively aware that this is a hazardous situation (the course’s lesson on hazard identification helped me to recognize this).

As soon as I am next to the lane of merging cars, not only have I reduced my speed, but I also have my exit strategy planned out. I know from my rear-view mirror that there’s a car tailing close behind me, so slamming on the brakes is not an option. However, the lane to my left is clear for the time being­.

With my emergency exit on my left, I direct my attention the cars on my right. I know they’re all trying to get out of the traffic and into a faster lane, so here is where I assume Murphy’s law: what can go wrong, will go wrong. I have a feeling that one of these drivers will forget to check his or her blind spot. If that happens, I won’t technically be the one at fault, but that doesn’t mean I won’t suffer from it with car damage and risk a serious injury. Defensive driving involves realizing that people make a lot of mistakes, and anticipating those mistakes before they have dire consequences.

2. Make It a Game of Strategy, not a Game of Luck
I have a bad feeling about these cars on my right, so not only have I slowed down and planned an escape route, but I am also now covering my horn–just in case. I’m using this strategy as a defensive move in my game plan for this merge.

When one driver juts out of his lane and right into mine, I do scream, but I am not taken by surprise. As soon as he budges, I am both laying on the horn and moving into the next lane.  Once safely away from the other car, I calmly merge back right into my exit lane and apologize to my friend for screaming.

Before taking One More Second, I would have shaken off that moment with, “Well that was close–lucky nothing happened.” My next thought, however, was more along the lines of, “that was too close, what could I have done differently?” The One More Second course challenged me to take luck out the equation. If I hadn’t known already that the left lane was clear, it would have been lucky for me to merge into it safely and not into another car. If I hadn’t realized there was a car behind me, it would have been lucky for me to have slammed on the brakes and not been rear-ended. In my case, my strategy was as simple as anticipating a potential danger and having a way out. It’s a simple idea to understand, but One More Second helped me put it into practice.

3. Seriously, No Phones
If I had even glanced at my phone at the same moment that the other driver wasn’t checking his blind spot, there’s no way I would have avoided him. What’s equally scary is that if I had been checking my phone in the moments leading up to the situation, I would have been too distracted to even notice the hazard or anticipate the potential danger.

It’s so easy to think, “I can just check it really quick.” I know because I catch myself thinking that exact thing constantly. The problem is that even “really quick” is plenty of time to miss something. The One More Second course made a compelling argument; and is what finally convinced me to find the discipline to not check–not even once.

Read Amy’s previous guest post, “One More Second: A Teen’s Review of eDriving’s New Defensive Driving Course.”


Want to be a defensive driver? Our course teaches advanced defensive driving skills–including freeway driving–to make sure you are ready for whatever the road brings. Learn more about the One More Second defensive driving course in the short video below.

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In the News: Representatives Seek to Strengthen Driving Education For Ohio Teenagers

Two Ohio state representatives are looking to expand existing requirements in the state’s young driver licensing system.

Ohio Reps. Gary Scherer and Michael Sheehy announce House Bill 293 June 29

Ohio Reps. Gary Scherer and Michael Sheehy announce House Bill 293 June 29

Ohio State Reps. Gary Scherer (R-Circleville) and Michael Sheehy (D-Toledo) unveiled House Bill 293 to the public June 29. The bill would implement two changes to teen driving laws in Ohio if passed:

  • Require teens to hold temporary instruction permits for one full year instead of only six months as it stands now
  • Modify the nighttime driving restriction to begin at 9 p.m. instead of midnight as it stands now

“Modernizing young driver licensing will give teens more protection and their parents peace of mind,” Scherer said during the announcement. “This will make our roads safer for drivers all across the state of Ohio.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 17% of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in the U.S. in 2015 occurred most frequently from 9 p.m. to midnight. And although teens age 15-19 only account for 7% of the population, they also account for 11% – or $10 billion – of the total costs of motor vehicle injuries in the U.S.

House Bill 293 must pass the House, as well as the Senate, by the end of 2018. It’s currently awaiting assignment to an appropriate committee.


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Drivers Ed Diary Entry No. 4: Passing the Road Test

DriversEd.com Contributing Writer Grace Keller has kept an ongoing diary for us about her drivers ed experience. In her latest installment, she details how she feels now that she’s passed her road test.

Grace Keller Drivers Ed diary: passing the Maryland road test
Grace Keller is delighted to have passed the Maryland road test!

The end of my drivers ed experience came quicker than I had anticipated – it flew right by! After sitting in a classroom every night for two weeks in order to meet the Maryland Vehicle Association’s (MVA) requirements while also working to complete my online drivers ed course, not to mention my mandatory six hours of in-car lessons with an instructor, I went to the MVA and took my Maryland road test.

The in-car lessons were a unique experience. On three separate occasions, I met an instructor outside my driving school, and proceeded to drive around main roads, surrounding neighborhoods, and I even got a lesson on parking. Though the lessons were long and tiring (not to mention a bit stressful since I was driving with a stranger each day) I learned a lot during these lessons. There’s something very different about learning how to drive by actually doing it hands-on. Even though I found drivers ed interesting and helpful, I didn’t realize how much I had learned until I passed my road test! This means I now have my provisional license.

Road test nerves

Although I wish I had started my license process much earlier (I could have had my license in March) I’m glad I waited until a time where schoolwork and extracurriculars eased up a bit so that it wasn’t as stressful. When I went to take my road test, I was so, so nervous. I was actually shaking as I sat in the building waiting for my name to be called. Luckily, I had scheduled an appointment – because of this, I didn’t have to spend the entire day waiting.

During the road test I actually messed up the one thing I thought I had mastered: reverse parking. I thought I’d be better under pressure, but I was wrong. Thankfully the car I used, my mom’s Lexus, had a back-up camera and parking sensors. If it wasn’t for both of these installations, I don’t know if I would’ve passed my test. Both the back-up camera and the sensors allowed me to tweak the angles of the car until I could successfully park.

“You’ve passed the road test!”

After I had parked, the test proctor told me to pull out of the space and continue around the course (the MVA has a closed course that you drive around first, in order to see if you’re a fit enough driver before going onto the local roads). I was able to successfully complete the closed course, allowing me to move onto the road portion of the test. It felt more natural than I had anticipated, and my nerves were mostly calmed by the time I pulled back into the MVA lot and parked. My test proctor finished marking off his papers, then turned to me and said “Congratulations, you have passed the Maryland road test,” just like I had wished many times before!

Since passing the road test and receiving my license, I’ve helped my mom with the driving on an eight-hour road trip, ran errands here and there for my grandmother, and I’ve even filled my own gas tank! Of course, this has all happened while I’m on vacation in a small beach town, so the roads are much quieter and less busy. It’ll be much different driving back home in the city, but I’m looking forward to it.

Grace Keller has been keeping an online diary as she’s progressed through drivers ed. Read her earlier posts: Entry #1, Entry #2, Entry #3.

Ready to learn to drive?

• Sign up for DriversEd.com’s Online Teen Drivers Education
• Get behind the wheel with DriversEd.com’s In-Car Driving Lessons

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Parents, it’s time to review your family’s summer driving habits

The most dangerous driving season of the year is here—what you and your teen should know

The most dangerous driving season of the year is here—what you and your teen should know

Click the infographic for a detailed view

From grad parties to family trips, reasons to be on the road this summer are plentiful. But as your family – and your teenagers – get behind the wheel, realize that the summertime is the most dangerous time of the year for young drivers.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the number of fatal teen driver collisions increases by 15% between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This means more than 1,600 people have been killed in summertime accidents over the last five years involving inexperienced teen drivers. And while it’s impossible to blame one specific trend or issue, GuardChild conducted a survey that may clue us in: 69% of 16- to 18-year old teens have admitted to speeding, running lights, or texting while driving during the last month. Now is the time to properly train – and monitor – your young drivers.

Making progress
There is some good news, however: Fatal teen collision rates are down. The number of fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers dropped by 44% over the last decade for teens, compared to a smaller decrease of only 27% for the 35- to 40-year-old adult group.

“This is very, very significant,” transportation safety consultant Pam Fischer said during a recent Governors Highway Safety Association event. “We’ve made some tremendous strides here, absolutely.”

What is the good news attributed to? Graduated driver license (GDL) laws and lower teen licensure rates, Fischer said.

“No one can dispute the fact that GDL is the most effective tool we have to address teen crash risk,” Fischer said, adding that at the same time, “an estimated one in three teens is not licensed by age 18. The cost to own and operate a vehicle, we know, can be significant.”

The not-so-good news
“Teens are still 1.6 times more likely than the comparison group, older adult group, to be involved in a fatal crash,” Fischer noted. “That’s down from 1.8 times in 2005, but it’s up slightly from 1.3 in 2013. We’re still seeing teens have a high crash risk.”

Distracted driving is one of the top factors involved in teen collisions.

Between 2007 and 2015 the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recorded more than 8,200 videos of teen driving incidents. After reviewing the footage, the foundation found:

  • There was a significant, year-over-year increase in the number of teens involved in rear-end crashes
  • More than half of all incidents recorded involved potentially distracting behavior, including attending to passengers, cell phone use, and attending to other items inside the vehicle

In fact, passengers serve as some of the most dangerous distractions for young drivers – the risk of getting into a collision for the driver increases with each additional passenger. However, at the same time, only 44% of teens say they feel confident enough to speak up if riding in a car driven improperly by another young driver.

Enforce and exemplify
Teen Summer Driving
Parents: Change starts with you. Ensure your whole family experiences safe travels this summer by helping your teen establish safe driving habits:

  • Keep an eye out for eDriving’s soon-to-be-released app Mentor, coming out this fall for consumers. Install the app on your teen’s phone to monitor their driving behavior
  • Enroll your child in drivers ed at the time that’s best for them. Read “Is my teenager ready to drive?” on DriversEd.com
  • Be a good example. DoSomething.org reports that 56% of teenagers rely on their parents to learn how to drive
  • Talk to your teenager about the friends they ride with. While states’ GDL laws impose restrictions on teen passengers, ensure your child feels empowered to be vocal about dangerous driving behavior with their friends
  • Enforce curfews. More than 40% of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.


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Rush for Texas Drivers’ Licenses Sparks DPS Delays

Top Missed Questions on Texas Driver Permit Practice Tests According to DriversEd.Com

Top Missed Questions on Texas Practice Permit TestsThe Texas Department of Public Safety (TxDPS) administers approximately 1,000 road tests per weekday, on average. While the typical wait for a road test can take a few weeks, TxDPS’ busy summer season can extend that wait to a few months. For parents looking to make sure their teens are licensed to drive before going back to school, the time is now.

To help new drivers secure a learner license, DriversEd.com by eDriving, the No. 1 provider of driver’s education in the U.S., has revealed the top questions Texan teens get wrong on its practice permit tests. To determine the questions most frequently answered incorrectly, DriversEd.com analyzed the answers to thousands of practice test questions. Interested teens can test their knowledge and prepare themselves to ace the test on the first try, getting them one step closer to obtaining a license this summer.

Texas Drivers Education
Drivers 25 and younger are required to complete Texas drivers ed before applying for a license. The traffic signs and rules of the road exam provided during the course serves as the official state knowledge exam. Each drivers ed student has up to three chances to pass it with score of at least 70%. If the student does not pass the test by the third time it is taken, the student must retake the course or that portion of the program.

Because of TxDPS’ “three strikes and you’re out” rule, and given the wait for road test appointments, it’s important for students to pass the knowledge exam on their first try. No student wants to do double the work, pay additional fees, and retake drivers ed.

“We know parents feel a real sense of urgency this time of year to make sure their teens are prepared to pass the official exam on the first try,” explained Justin McNaull, a traffic safety advocate and DriversEd.com spokesperson. “We know how valuable practice can be, which is why we offer our students free, practice learner license tests when they take our Texas online drivers ed course.”

The Inside Scoop
Texas commonly missed practice drivers test questionOf the nine questions most frequently answered incorrectly on DriversEd.com Texas practice permit tests, five relate to turning, overtaking or passing, and giving right of way. One question highlighted Texas distracted driving laws, and the remaining three questions focused on road signs, liability insurance requirements, and applicability of speed limits.

Key Findings:

  • Only one out of every five students correctly identify when a driver may cross a solid double yellow line in the center of a roadway
  • 75% of students fail to recognize the correct highway sign used to identify a short highway in a city or urban area known as a “Loop”
  • 70% of students are unaware that a posted speed limit of 55mph does not allow drivers to maintain that speed during inclement weather or other unfavorable driving conditions

Top Three Missed Questions on Texas Practice Permit Tests (Source: DriversEd.com)

1: Dos & Don’ts of Turning Left from Center Lane
“When making a left turn from a center lane (which is bordered by a solid and broken line on each side), you may enter this lane to make a left turn no more than ___ feet from the location of the turn.” This question appeared on more than 1,800 practice TxDPS permit tests studied by DriversEd.com. Only 342 students (18.85%) selected the correct answer of “300.” Most test takers chose shorter distances, which can affect safe turning practices as well as impact traffic flow.

2: Dos & Don’ts of Crossing a Double Yellow Line
“You must not cross a solid double yellow line in the center of a roadway to:”. Appearing on 3,071 of the practice tests analyzed by DriversEd.com, the correct answer, “Overtake another vehicle,” was selected by only 618 students (20.12%). Students often incorrectly chose answers related to turning safely.

3: Dos & Don’ts of Cellphone Use in a School Lane
“A driver is using his cell phone while passing through a school zone. Is it legal?’. Appearing on 2,225 of the tests, just 518 students (23.28%) selected the correct answer of “It is illegal unless the driver is at least 18 years of age and using a hands-free device.” Texas law prohibits drivers of any age from texting or talking using a handheld cell phone while driving in a school zone. Moreover, it is illegal for drivers under 18 to text or use a mobile device while operating a vehicle. And effective Sept. 1, 2017, texting while driving will be illegal for all Texas drivers.

Top Missed Questions on Texas Practice Permit TestsMethodology
DriversEd.com identified its most missed practice questions from thousands of Texans taking DriversEd.com practice permit tests in 2016.

Learn more about DriversEd.com and eDriving:

 

 

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Teen Blogger Jett Roberts Picks up Defensive Driving Tips in his Interview with a DriversEd.com Instructor

DriversEd.com’s newest teen blogger Jett Roberts, 16, is a junior at Bishop O’ Dowd High School in Oakland, California. He’s in the process of getting his drivers license, and currently drives under adult supervision with a California permit.

New DriversEd.com teen blogger Jett Roberts picks up some defensive driving tips in an interview with a driving instructor

Jett Roberts interviewed DriversEd.com driving instructor Africa Ishodi – and picked up some defensive driving tips along the way!

Jett says: “I’ve been driving for almost four months now, and I love it! I went through the California online drivers ed training on DriversEd.com, and I have done three lessons with a teacher.”

Despite being new to driving, Jett is already showing an awareness of the importance of being a SMART driver.

“When you are driving you have a responsibility to everyone else to be safe and respectful,” he says. “Living in the San Francisco Bay Area is probably one of the hardest places to drive because there are so many people. Our house is also by “the maze”, which is where eight highways meet! You can see people get mad while driving, and my mom always tells me to assume that no one else knows what they are doing, which keeps you at your sharpest.

Jett completed his California online drivers ed course a few months after he turned 16.

“I didn’t know a lot of the things that were covered in the course, including almost all of the traffic laws, so it’s needless to say I learned a lot. The best part about DriversEd.com’s online drivers ed training was the little movies where I got to choose the outcome! I thought that was a great way to help me figure out what to do.”

Jett will be interviewing drivers and writing blog articles for DriversEd.com as he goes through the process of earning his drivers license.

Here is his first interview with DriversEd.com driving instructor Africa Ishodi, in which he picks up a few defensive driving tips:

How many students have you taught?
I’ve taught over 300 hundred students while working with DriversEd.com. Teaching new drivers is all about adapting to different students and their learning styles. Not all kids are the same, so they don’t all learn the same way.

Have you done anything like teaching drivers ed before or is this your first job like this?
I used to work with people who have special needs; I did that for seven years. This helped me develop my teaching skills and the ability to find the best learning style for each student.

Is driving different than it was when you learned?
When I learned how to drive I was taught be an older person, who had a great deal of experience. I remember the main thing that I didn’t get the hang of was braking properly.

I pulled from what I learned while driving, and use this knowledge when teaching others. The main point being to look over your shoulder when turned, ALWAYS!!

How long have you been driving; when did you get your license?
I got my license about 19 years ago, when I was 16. I got it in San Francisco, which is extremely hard to navigate!

What are some defensive driving skills, that will make me a better driver?
SMOG! This is what will prepare you the most for the driving test.
Signal when turning,
Mirrors, check them every 10 to 15 seconds,
(Look) Over your shoulder when turning, always scan your surroundings,
and last but not least Go when its safe!

DriversEd.com instructor Africa Ishodi says teaching new drivers is all about adapting to different students and their learning styles

DriversEd.com driving instructor Africa Ishodi

How will those defensive driving skills help me in my driving test?
Traffic laws are key, and knowing what you can or cannot do. SMOG prepares you so much for the test!

What is your favorite food?
Pot roast and healthy foods, like quinoa, and chicken.

What is your favorite thing to do in your spare time?
I take Martial Arts, Sanshou, a fighting form of Kung Fu. It was originally developed by the Chinese military based on traditional Kung Fu and modern combat fighting techniques.

What is your favorite TV show and/ or movie?
TV – Big Bang Theory, Movie – I Am Sam

What is your favorite season in the year?
Summer! I love the weather, and going on vacation!

What kind of music do you like?
No favorite genre, I love them all!

Are you ready to take your California online drivers ed? Learn more: California online drivers ed

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Record-breaking 44M people expected to travel this July 4th

Road trips in 2017The American Automobile Association (AAA) is predicting this Fourth of July holiday weekend to be the most traveled Independence Day weekend ever.

More than 44 million Americans are expected to travel at least 50 miles from home over the weekend, which is 1.25 million more travelers than last year. With July 4th falling on a Tuesday, it is believed people will make the most of the long weekend.

“Strong employment, combined with rising incomes and higher consumer confidence bode well for the travel industry,” said Mary Maguire, AAA Northeast Director of Public and Legislative Affairs. “This historic number of travelers will add to an already bustling summer travel season.”

AAA estimates that 85% of all holiday travelers will opt to drive to their destinations, an increase of nearly 3% over 2016’s numbers. Only 3.27 million travelers are expected to look into other forms of transportation, including trains, buses, or cruises.

Slow Down, Move Over
The AAA reminds travelers that every state has a law requiring motorists to move over and slow down when approaching first responders such as police officers and tow truck drivers.

“First responders are killed or injured every year throughout the country, and the Slow Down, Move Over laws are designed to protect those who are working to protect us,” Maguire said.

Prepare Before You Go
Are you one of the millions of drivers taking to the road at the beginning of July? Read our Car Upgrades for Road Trips to see how else you can make your drive the safest – and most comfortable – possible.

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California Online Drivers Ed Diary: Entry #3

[Written by DriversEd.com contributing writer Alexis David, who is keeping an ongoing California online drivers ed diary for us, detailing her experience going through our California online drivers ed course.]

California online drivers ed course review by Alexis David

Alexis David shares her progress as she takes DriversEd.com’s California online drivers ed course

I’ve been taking my drivers ed course in a very leisurely manner, which doesn’t help when I just want to get my permit already! Plus, I find I keep forgetting what I learned if I don’t study regularly.

But, with school ending soon, and summer speeding closer faster than I expected, I’ve been trampled with school work last minute. It’s been hard to balance my California drivers ed course with high school and events, but at last I’ve found some time to catch up. Since my last diary entry, I’ve read about substance abuse, defensive driving, and how to drive in different areas.

Substance Abuse module
I already knew drugs and alcohol were bad and harmful. I know there are plenty of people who “enjoy themselves” by intoxicating themselves or getting high on marijuana. But, I’ve learned it’s much worse when people waste themselves while driving. Drugs can cause hallucinations, drowsiness, and dizziness, and alcohol can cause a person to be drunk.

The effects caused by alcohol and drugs can create an incapable driver. If you know someone is drunk driving, you should be aware of their swerving and be fast to react. If there’s an intoxicated driver, let them pass you. However, if you ever do drink, go with a friend to be a designated driver that’ll take you home. When people intoxicate themselves, not only are they a danger to themselves, they’re making it extremely dangerous for other drivers on the road.

Defensive Driving module
I now know defensive driving is like your mind telling you to, “Be aware, keep your eyes peeled, and react as soon as you can!” while driving. It’s true that you must act alert and plan for the unexpected. While driving, you should always wear seatbelts for any sudden stops or collision. Give room for yourself to maneuver on the road when you drive. Get ready for anything coming your way.

You can’t always prevent everything from coming your way, so if a collision does happen, take deep breaths, and check if people need medical assistance in your car, then check outside and assess damages to the vehicle. If I get in a collision, I’ve learned I need to give my information to the other driver, or the resident whose property I’ve damaged. If the resident is not there, I should leave a note with my name and address for them to contact me back.

At the end of the Defensive Driving module, I watched a movie called “Red Asphalt V”.  Let me tell you, it was not an easy movie to watch. The video showed blood and guts from actual collisions. Most of the time, I was covering my eyes because I couldn’t handle the excessive amount of blood shown, the broken bones turned at odd angles, or the crushed frames of cars. I wanted to tell myself that the bodies and crashes I was seeing were fake like in any other R-rated movie. Instead, these were real people who weren’ prepared to be in a horrific collision. In that moment, I realized that driving is always about staying alert, which is why I need to learn more about how to do it to become a safe driver.

City, Rural and Freeway Driving module
These are all places I’ve observed my father driving during our frequent road trips from home to destinations in Southern California during the summer time. I’ve noticed that whether we leave in the morning or night, my dad must drive and be alert. In cities, he has to drive carefully because of pedestrians, stop lights, buses loading and unloading people, drivers coming out of alleyways, stop and go traffic gridlock, and many other people on different roads crossing our path.

On these long trips, my dad may end up driving through the middle of nowhere, where there is just grass, powerlines, a two-way road, and the company of my family. In rural areas, it’s mostly just plants and dirt, meaning there could be unmarked fields or farm-way entrances, dirt roads, and unmarked sides to roads. You still need to stay focused in rural areas, because if you get too relaxed, you might not see a farm vehicle coming into the dirt road!

Lastly, somewhere that appears to test not only the driver’s patience, but also the young passengers that want to enjoy the vacation. The freeway. There’s usually lots of traffic at a faster pace with more cars and more lanes, with more people trying to get to where they want to go. Freeway driving is chaotic, but if you stay focused, have patience, know where you’re going, and how to safely get there, it’ll be a smooth ride.

As I come close to completing my drivers ed course, I feel as if it has gone by incredibly fast. I started drivers ed about six months ago, and I’m almost ready to have my permit, after I pass the examination. I’m at 87%! I’m just hoping I’m as good as I am in this course when it comes to practicing behind the wheel.

Alexis Davis is currently taking eDriving’s California online drivers ed course. The course is now available with three options: Basic, Enhanced and Comprehensive, enabling you to include unlimited  practice tests, in-car lessons and personal coaching with your California online drivers ed. 

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One More Second: A Teen’s Review of eDriving’s New Defensive Driving Course

[eDriving's contributory teen writer Amy Tarczynski reviews eDriving's new defensive driving course, One More Second.]

One More Second: A Teen’s Review of eDriving’s New Defensive Driving Course

eDriving’s new two-hour defensive driving course, One More Second

1.2 million people die every year in road crashes. I know that’s terrifying, but scary numbers like that tend to fly right over my head.

So, when I was asked to try out eDriving’s new online defensive driving course, One More Second, and it started out with facts about car crashes, injuries and related costs, I thought, “Great, another boring video about how driving is dangerous.”

As if reading my mind, the narrator responded, “We are pretty sure these facts are nothing new to you and will probably NOT persuade you to think about your own driving style, never mind change it!”

I was instructed to pause and think about what would persuade me to think about my driving style. The narrator went on to say that most people don’t change their driving habits unless something bad happens–either to them or to a loved one.

Have you heard of Murphy’s law? It’s the idea that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. I feel like I have spent my driving career knowing that close calls are bound to happen and hoping that when they do my reaction time will be fast enough to avoid a major collision.

“By learning defensive driving skills, I can significantly reduce my chance of injury on the road.”

BUT, during this course, I discovered there’s a better way to stay safe on the road. There’s a method for anticipating what can go wrong and preventing it from happening: defensive driving. By learning defensive driving skills, I can significantly reduce my chance of injury on the road.

Defensive driving is a set of principles which can be combined with a planned driving system, the correct attitude and skill to guide any driver’s actions. The benefit? Defensive drivers are in control and continually aware of situations around them.

This sounds pretty simple, and the One More Second course emphasized that once you commit to changing your mindset and developing new habits, it becomes a lot easier to avoid trouble on the road.

Despite the simplicity of the concept, I was shocked by how much I didn’t know about driving defensively. The course was sprinkled with quiz questions, many of which I answered wrong on my first attempt. The surprise of seeing my incorrect answers made me pause and finally admit, “Yeah, maybe I could be a better driver.”

By the time I reached some of the other interactive activities in the course, I was hooked. When observing a driving scene from a bird’s eye view, it’s easy to anticipate dangers about to happen. You’re removed from the situation, you can see everyone involved, and you are paying close attention. So, when an animated cyclist circumvents a parked car at the last second, it’s no surprise that a closely trailing vehicle must swerve to avoid hitting the cyclist.

“Immediately practicing new techniques made me feel like I was absorbing the material as well as if I was being taught by an instructor in a moving car.”

It turns out that anticipating danger is more difficult when you’re right in the thick of it. The course’s challenging in-car simulations put me into the driver’s seat, from where I was tasked with identifying impending threats. I found these challenges difficult at first, but as the course went on I could feel my observation skills improving. Immediately practicing new techniques made me feel like I was absorbing the material as well as if I was being taught by an instructor in a moving car.

Another thing I liked about One More Second was that it didn’t feel like I had to remember every single tip to get a lot out of the course. It had clear and memorable takeaways about things like attitude shift and hazard identification. I’m confident that takeaways such as these, combined with some of the specific techniques in the course, will make me feel a lot safer the next time I get behind the wheel.

In just two hours One More Second teaches advanced defensive driving skills to make sure all drivers are ready for whatever the road brings! It is perfect for parents preparing to teach their teens to drive and perfect for teens who want to continue to gain skill and confidence behind the wheel.

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