Safe2Drive Blog

1/30/2023

What To Do During Traffic Stops

by Courtney Conley

There are many reasons you could be stopped by a police officer. Maybe you committed a minor traffic violation without realizing it. Sometimes there’s a problem with your vehicle you didn’t notice, like a burned out brake light, or maybe your vehicle is similar to one used in a serious crime. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remain calm and know your rights during a traffic stop.

Police Officer

You’ll see flashing emergency lights behind you when an officer wants to pull you over. You have to pull over and stop your vehicle as soon as it’s safe to do so. Here are some tips for what to do when you’re being pulled over:

  • Slow down, engage your turn signal, and pull over as far to the right side of the road as you can. Never attempt to avoid law enforcement by speeding off or making a quick exit onto another street.
  • Once you’re stopped in a safe place, turn off your vehicle. Turn your interior lights on.
  • Roll down your windows about halfway, then place your hands on the steering wheel. Officers may approach from the driver’s side or the passenger’s side.
  • Do not reach for any objects until the officer specifically asks you to do so, even when they are still in their vehicle. Passengers should keep their hands in plain sight as well.

It’s vital that everyone (i.e., law enforcement officers, drivers and passengers) remain calm during a traffic stop. Drivers and passengers should not exit the vehicle unless asked to do so by the officer. Exiting the vehicle unprompted could be seen as aggressive behavior and a threat to the officer’s safety.

Drivers and passengers should not reach for their license or insurance documents before or while an officer is approaching. Wait until the officer asks for your documents, then tell them where the documents are located before you reach for them. Some states allow drivers to provide digital proof of insurance, or even a digital driver’s license. Even so, you should always keep physical copies of these documents with you as well.

Drivers who transport firearms in their vehicles are encouraged to keep these in a separate location from their license and insurance documents. If you have firearms in your vehicle, calmly inform the officer of their location.

The driver and any passengers are subject to an investigative detention during a traffic stop, which may only last for a reasonable amount of time. Passengers can ask the officer if they are free to leave and do so if the officer consents. Law enforcement may ask questions during this time. You may inform the officer that you wish to remain silent; however, drivers are legally required to display a driver’s license when requested to do so by an officer.

Law enforcement may ask you if they can search your vehicle. You are allowed to refuse this request and ask to speak to an attorney first. If an officer has probable cause to believe that your vehicle contains evidence of a crime, however, it can be searched without your consent. If an officer reasonably believes that you have a weapon, the officer can conduct a pat down search of your person and the immediate area around you, including areas of your vehicle.

You cannot physically resist a search, but you can let the officer know that you don’t consent to the search.

If you believe an officer has acted inappropriately during a traffic stop, write down everything you remember immediately following the interaction. You should report your experience to the officer’s superiors and follow agency guidelines for submitting complaints against officers as soon as possible.

You shouldn’t argue with an officer during a traffic stop. Signing a citation doesn’t mean you’re admitting guilt. It simply confirms your promise to pay the fine or contact the court. If you think you did not deserve the citation, you can argue your case in court, not during the traffic stop.

Most traffic stops go smoothly and without conflict, but it’s important to understand your rights and responsibilities during a traffic stop and remain calm.

Are you interested in traffic safety?

Are you looking for defensive driving and traffic school courses? Do you want a discount on your auto insurance? Do you know a teen who’s ready to take an online driver education course?

Safe2Drive is here to help! We offer convenient online courses for drivers of any age! Visit our website today to learn about the online courses we offer in your state.

There are many reasons you could be stopped by a police officer. Maybe you committed a minor traffic violation without realizing it. Sometimes there’s a problem with your vehicle you didn’t notice, like a burned out brake light, or maybe your vehicle is similar to one used in a serious crime. Whatever the reason, it’s important to remain calm and know your rights during a traffic stop.

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1/23/2023

Here's Why You Should Start Planning Your Vacation Now

by Courtney Conley

For many of us, the new year means a new bank of personal days at work. The last Tuesday in January is National Plan for Vacation Day. If you’re thinking it’s a little early to be planning your vacations that are months away, keep reading to find out the benefits of planning early.

1. Your employers will have plenty of notice before your absence.

One study found that an average of 55% of paid time off (PTO) went unused in 2022, which is a drastic increase from previous years. Sometimes, workers feel uncomfortable taking time away from work if they’re worried that their coworkers will struggle in their absence. Everyone’s job handles time off a little differently, but in most cases, letting them know well in advance will help your employer plan accordingly.

2. You’ll have more have time to search for the best deals.

Have you ever been in a time crunch to make a purchase, then ended up buying the first thing available even though it was more than you intended to spend? We’ve all been there. If you start planning your vacation now, you’ll have much more time to look for deals and bargains!

3. Travel will be smoother when you have a detailed plan.

Whether you’re flying or driving, give yourself plenty of time to plan how to handle the travel portion of your vacation. If you’re flying, you’ll need to decide how you’re getting to the airport. Where will you park? Or, who will drop you off at the airport? How are you going to get around once you land? Will you rent a car, call an Uber, or something else? It’s a good idea to look into all your options so you can plan for anything.

For those who are planning road trips, you’ll need even more time to prepare. As soon as you know the dates of your trip, start thinking about how you’re going to handle the driving journey. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you’re planning your road trip:

  1. Make sure the vehicle you’re using is in excellent condition. You do not want to experience a breakdown on your way to your vacation spot, or on your way home. If you’re not sure if your vehicle will be able to handle a long road trip, consider renting a vehicle instead. Better safe than sorry!
  2. Pack an emergency kit. You should always have some basic supplies in your vehicle (e.g., a spare tire and the tools to change a tire), but you’ll want to beef up your stash before heading out on a long trip.
  3. Keep up on your vehicle maintenance. Check your owner’s manual to see what the recommended maintenance schedule is for your vehicle, and make sure to follow it!

Make good use of National Plan for Vacation Day by starting your vacation planning now! Everyone deserves some time to relax and rejuvenate throughout the busy year ahead. Knowing that everything is already planned and taken care of well before your vacation starts will help your piece of mind and allow you to focus on the fun things in store!

Are you interested in traffic safety?

Are you looking for defensive driving and traffic school courses? Do you want a discount on your auto insurance? Do you know a teen who’s ready to take an online driver education course?

Safe2Drive is here to help! We offer convenient online courses for drivers of any age! Visit our website today to learn about the online courses we offer in your state.

For many of us, the new year means a new bank of personal days at work. The last Tuesday in January is National Plan for Vacation Day. If you’re thinking it’s a little early to be planning your vacations that are months away, keep reading to find out the benefits of planning early.

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1/17/2023

5 Tips for Driving in Extreme Weather

by Courtney Conley

This winter has been rough. From snow storms and tornadoes across the Midwest to cyclones and severe storms on the west coast, many of us are dealing with weather that makes our daily routines much more difficult. Driving in extreme weather can be stressful and dangerous, and it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. Sometimes, though, extreme weather is simply unavoidable on the road. With that in mind, here are our top tips for driving in some of the most dangerous conditions.

1. How to Drive in the Snow

Car Stuck in Snow

First, let’s look at some safety tips for driving in the snow:

  • Increase your following distance.
  • Slow down to help your tires maintain traction on the road.
  • Keep your windshield clean. Salt and debris on the road can dirty up your windshield quickly, making it impossible to see.
  • Keep emergency items in your trunk (e.g., blankets, first aid kit, windshield scraper flashlight, booster cables, and reflectors or road flares).

Look out for ice in the winter. Be especially careful when temperatures are around 32 degrees Fahrenheit, as the combination of ice and snow will reduce your vision and make the road slippery.

Keep an eye out for black ice. Black ice looks like regular pavement but a bit glossy. If you hit a patch of black ice, try to remain as calm as possible and avoid sudden maneuvers.

2. How to Drive in the Rain

Pedestrian in the Rain

California has been hit with intense storms and cyclones this year. A cyclone is a large, rotating system of wind that often brings heavy rain. You should never drive during a cyclone. Stay inside and take shelter.

Even a small amount of rain can make the road a dangerous place. Here are some tips for driving in the rain:

  • Use your headlights, windshield wipers, and defrosters to help your vision.
  • Slow down and pay extra close attention to drivers around you. Be prepared to stop suddenly.
  • Stay on the pavement and drive in the tracks of the vehicle ahead of you when you can. This helps your tires maintain traction with the roadway.
  • Slow down when driving on curves and hills.
  • Use the radio. The radio can be a valuable tool during adverse weather. Instead of streaming music, consider turning on the regular radio and tuning into the weather station for real-time watches, warnings, and advisories while on the road.

Another risk that comes along with driving in the rain is flooded roads. It can be tempting to just drive through standing water (especially if you’re driving a large vehicle), but you should never attempt to drive through flooded roads. Here’s why:

  • Six inches of water will reach the bottom of most passenger cars, causing loss of control and possible stalling.
  • Twelve inches of water will float many cars.
  • Two feet of rushing water will carry off pick-up trucks, SUVs, and most other vehicles.
  • Water across a road may hide a missing segment of roadbed or a missing bridge.
  • Floodwater weakens roads. Drivers must proceed cautiously once waters have receded, since a weakened road may collapse under a vehicle’s weight.

If you find yourself unexpectedly stuck in floodwater, the best thing you can do is to get out quickly and move to higher ground. Floodwaters can rise rapidly and sweep a car and its occupants away with little warning.

Finally, be careful of hydroplaning when driving in the rain. Roads are at their most dangerous during the first five to ten minutes of a rainfall. As rain mixes with dirt and oil on the road, a slippery film forms, which makes it harder for your tires to grip the road. Your vehicle then skims across the water rather than the road’s surface, limiting your ability to control your vehicle.

If you start to hydroplane, do not panic and slam on the brakes. Instead, take your foot off the brake. If you do need to brake, push down gently until you feel the wheels reconnect with the roadway. The best way to prevent hydroplaning is by making sure your tires are inflated properly and have a good tread so they have good traction.

3. How to Drive in High Winds

A lot of extreme weather includes high winds. Here are some tips for driving in high winds:

  • Slow down and keep extra space between your vehicle and those around you.
  • Keep a firm grip on the wheel.
  • Don’t panic and overcorrect your steering if you get blown off course by gusts of wind. Instead, keep your wheel as straight as possible and pull over in a safe place if you need to.

High winds are especially dangerous for motorcycles, large trucks, and other high-profile vehicles. Be mindful of large vehicles and motorcycles when driving in high winds and give them plenty of extra space.

4. How to Drive in Fog

Foggy Road

Fog can turn your usual morning drive into a nightmare. Roads you drive every day suddenly look unfamiliar, and other drivers are unpredictable. In fog, you can’t see the road ahead and may not be able to stop before hitting another vehicle, person, animal, or object. If you notice fog before heading out, consider postponing your trip until conditions clear.

If you do have to drive in fog, here are some tips:

  • Use your low beam headlights. Low beams are aimed closer to the road, which can help you see the road under fog. High beam headlights will just reflect off the moisture in the air, causing light to reflect back on you, reducing your vision even more.
  • Increase the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead of you.
  • If you must stop for an emergency, pull as far to the right as possible. Do not stop in the middle of traffic, as other vehicles may not see you in time to avoid a collision.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Speeding is always dangerous, and speeding in fog is a disaster waiting to happen.

5. What to Do If You’re Stuck Driving During a Tornado

The first thing to know about tornadoes is the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning:

  • A tornado watch tells you that the conditions are right for a possible tornado, though no tornadoes have been spotted.
  • A tornado warning is issued when tornadoes have been spotted in the area.

If you’re driving during a tornado warning, do not try to "race" the tornado. If possible, exit your car and seek shelter in the closest building.

If you’re not able to exit your vehicle, do not stop under an overpass or bridge. Tornadoes have strong horizontal winds. This means that even if you're under an overpass, you could still be struck by debris. Find a spot to pull over and turn off your vehicle. Keep your seat belt on and put your head down as far under the windows as possible. Cover your head with a blanket, cushion, or jacket--whatever you have available to you to help keep any broken glass from contacting your skin.

The bottom line is, the safest approach to driving in extreme weather is to simply stay home. If you absolutely have to get on the road, or if you get caught in surprise extreme weather while already on the road, use these tips to help you and your loved ones stay safe.

Want to learn more?

If you’d like to learn more about handling driving emergencies, check out our free driver resources center! We have detailed guides on many driving topics, including what to do during driving emergencies.

Are you looking for defensive driving and traffic school courses? Do you want a discount on your auto insurance? Do you have a teen who’s ready to take an online driver education course?

Safe2Drive is here to help! We offer convenient online courses for drivers of any age! Visit our website today to learn about the online courses we offer in your state.

This winter has been rough. From snow storms and tornadoes across the Midwest to cyclones and severe storms on the west coast, many of us are dealing with weather that makes our daily routines much more difficult. Driving in extreme weather can be stressful and dangerous, and it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. Sometimes, though, extreme weather is simply unavoidable on the road. With that in mind, here are our top tips for driving in some of the most dangerous conditions.

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1/9/2023

It's Time to Ditch Puffy Coats

by Courtney Conley

Everyone knows how important it is to bundle up their little ones before heading out into the cold. Seeing a toddler wobble around in a puffy coat and pom-pom hat is adorable! There’s one place, though, that your little one shouldn’t wear a wear thick coat this winter: in their car seat or booster seat.

Sleeping baby

Child safety seats are designed to keep children secured in their seat in the event of a collision. The straps need to be snug against the child’s body. When the child is wearing a bulky coat, there’s much more slack between the harness and the child’s body. The more layers there are between your child’s body and their seat belt or harness, the more danger they’re in if you get into a collision.

So, what should you do instead of buckling up with a bulky coat? There are several options.

For babies in car seats, you can strap them in as usual and tuck a warm blanket around them on top of the harness. This will keep your little one warm and safe.

Another option is to let your child wear their coat while walking out to the car, then taking it off before buckling up or getting in their child safety seat. Once they’re safely strapped in, they can wear their coat backwards over the chest straps. This is a great option for kids who may forget their coat if it’s not attached to them!

This applies to anyone in the car. Bulky coats and jackets will flatten out on impact, leaving way too much space between your seat belt and your body. It may be a little inconvenient to take your heavy coat off when you get in the car, but it will be more than worth it in the event of a collision.

Stay warm (and safe!) this winter season!

Want to learn more?

Are you looking for defensive driving and traffic school courses? Do you want a discount on your auto insurance? Are you a mature driver interested in a discount on your auto insurance? Do you have a teen who’s ready to take an online driver education course?

Safe2Drive is here to help! We offer convenient online courses for drivers of any age! Visit our website today to learn about the online courses we offer in your state.

Everyone knows how important it is to bundle up their little ones before heading out into the cold. Seeing a toddler wobble around in a puffy coat and pom-pom hat is adorable! There’s one place, though, that your little one shouldn’t wear a wear thick coat this winter: in their car seat or booster seat.

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