Safe2Drive Blog

5/23/2022

Safety Tips for Planning a Summer Road Trip

by Courtney Conley

Road trips are a summertime staple. Some people love them, some people hate them, but one thing we can all agree on is that safety is a top priority. Whether you’re spending a long weekend at a nearby campsite or making a long trek across the country, here are our top tips for staying safe on your summer road trip.

Road Trip

1. Plan ahead.

The most important thing to do leading up to a summer road trip is planning your route ahead of time. You can’t just enter the address in your map app and head out-take the time to research the best possible routes. Take the time of day into consideration, as you don’t want to drive through rush hour traffic or at night when your body is used to being asleep.

Before you head out, keep an eye on the weather. Summer thunderstorms can quickly throw a wrench in your fun drive. Avoid construction when you can. Take a good look at your route and plan out when you’ll take breaks. Plan to take a driving break every 6 to 8 hours.

2. Tune up your car.

You should gave your car serviced regularly as outlined in your owner’s manual, but always make sure it’s ready before taking a long trip. Here are some areas to focus on:

  • Tires: make sure you have enough tread and your tire pressure is good.
  • Battery: check your battery, charging system, and belts. Replace your battery if needed, and make sure you have a set of jumper cables on hand in case you need to jumpstart your car click here to watch our easy tutorial!).
  • Fluid levels: check the levels of all your fluids, including coolant, oil, windshield washer fluid, brake fluid, and power steering fluid. Top them off before you go, and make sure there are no leaks.
  • Lights: check your brake lights, headlights, license plate lights (if you have them), and turn signals. If any of these lights aren’t working, get them replaced immediately.
  • Belts and hoses: check for wear, cracks, or cuts. Get them replaced if they’re showing signs of wear. You don’t want a broken belt on your trip!
  • Fuel: fill up your tank before you head out, and be sure to fill up regularly on the road. You shouldn’t let your gas tank fall below ¼ of a tank.

In addition to these checks, be sure to review your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer recommends.

Pack smartly!

Packing is often a hassle, and it’s easy to forget something you need. Make two packing lists-one for luggage, and one for your car. Here are some things you’ll want to put on your packing list:

  • Cell phone charger
  • Emergency kit (e.g., flashlight, first aid kit, flares, nonperishable food and drinking water)
  • Jack (for changing tires), spare tire, lug wrench, wheel blocks, tire pressure gauge, and battery jumper cables
  • Paper maps, just in case you lose service and can’t access your GPS system or phone

When you’re packing your vehicle, put the heaviest items on the bottom and make sure everything is secured. Do not block your line of sight with your luggage.

3. Brush up on your driving skills.

How long has it been since you took a driving class? Have you been keeping up with new traffic laws every year? If you’re planning a long trip, consider taking an online driver safety course! You may be surprised at how much you could learn. Click here to visit our website to see the online courses we offer in your state! You may even be able to get a discount on your auto insurance by taking one of our courses.

We hope you use these safety tips to have the best summer road trip ever! If you experience a hiccup along the way, we can help. Check out our FREE driver resources center for easy-to-follow instructions on car maintenance topics.

Road trips are a summertime staple. Some people love them, some people hate them, but one thing we can all agree on is that safety is a top priority. Whether you’re spending a long weekend at a nearby campsite or making a long trek across the country, here are our top tips for staying safe on your summer road trip.

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5/16/2022

New Driver Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

by Courtney Conley

Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human, after all! Some mistakes, however, are more costly than others. Sometimes one mistake is the difference between life and death. It’s morbid, but the truth is car crashes are the leading cause of death to people age 15 to age 20. Many of these collisions are caused by human error, meaning they could have been avoided by drivers using defensive driving strategies. It’s important for new drivers especially to understand common mistakes and how to avoid them because new drivers are statistically more likely to cause a collision than older, more experienced drivers.

Teen Driver

The most recent data found 1,603 young drivers (i.e., drivers age 15 to age 210) died in traffic collisions in 2019, with another 205,000 young drivers injured in collisions. Forty-six percent of the young drivers who died weren’t wearing seat belts.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common new driver mistakes and how to avoid them.

Speeding

The data from 2019 shows that more young drivers were speeding at the time of their fatal crashes than any other age group, other than drivers with a female identifier on their license age 21 to age 24.

Young drivers don’t have as much driving experience to understand the level of risk they’re facing in certain conditions on the road. They tend to think collisions happen to "other people," but would never happen to them. Young drivers may know all of the technical skills of driving a vehicle and understand traffic laws, but it takes a while to develop the skill set to accurately evaluate the level of risk they’re taking while driving.

Speeding is worth it because it saves time, right? Here’s an example for you: Imagine you’re running late for school. The school is five miles away, and the speed limit is 45 mph. In order to save time, you decide to speed. Now your speed is 55 mph. How much time will you save?

By going 10 mph over the speed limit in this scenario, you’ll save about 1.21 minutes on your drive to school. You’ll also double your risk for a collision, not to mention the speeding ticket you’d earn. Is it worth getting to your destination about a minute earlier? No.

Here are some ways young drivers can avoid speeding:

  • Pay attention to posted speed limits. It may sound obvious, but the driver’s excuse for speeding is often that they didn’t know the speed limit. That’s not a valid excuse.
  • Take a quick glance at your speedometer regularly. It’s easy for a new driver to lose track of their speed if they’re not paying enough attention to it.
  • Slow down in poor conditions. Did you know you can be ticketed for driving under the speed limit in certain situations? The posted speed limit is the maximum speed you can drive under good conditions. In adverse conditions (e.g., snow, rain, heavy winds, traffic), you’ll need to drive under the posted speed limit in order to stay safe.

It’s pretty easy to avoid speeding if you want to stay safe.

Drinking While Driving

The legal drinking age is 21 years old in the US, so it shouldn’t be a problem for young drivers, right? Unfortunately, alcohol use is another area where young drivers underestimate the level of risk involved when combined with driving.

In the US, it’s illegal to drive with a BAC of .08 g/dL or higher (with the exclusion of Utah where the threshold is .05 g/dL). Twenty-four percent of the young drivers who died in collisions in 2019 had a BAC of .01 g/dL or above. Twenty percent of young drivers killed had a BAC of .08 g/dL or above. Of the young drinking drivers who were killed, 60% weren’t wearing seat belts. These deaths were unnecessary.

Here are some of the driving skills that are negatively affected by alcohol:

  • Judgment and reasoning
  • Awareness and alertness
  • Vision
  • Physical condition
  • Coordination
  • Reaction time

Deciding to drive should only happen when the person’s ability and judgment isn’t impaired by alcohol or other drugs. Sometimes, young drivers feel pressured by their peers to drink or use other drugs. If you’re a new driver easily swayed by peer pressure, avoid situations where you know your friends will be drinking when you don’t want to join in.

Some alternatives to drinking and driving are:

  • Designate a sober driver who won’t drink or use other drugs that day so they can safely drive everyone home.
  • Call an Uber, or a trusted friend or family member to pick you up.
  • If you’re at a party, consider sleeping over rather than driving home at night when you’re impaired.
  • Decide not to drink or use other drugs while out when you know you’re not going to be able to get home safely.

Never get in the car with a driver who’s intoxicated, and if you can, urge them not to drive while intoxicated, either.

Not Paying Attention in Driver’s Ed

The final mistake new drivers make that we’ll cover is a major one: not paying attention in driver’s education class. We get it; sitting in a classroom listening to someone talk about driving may not be the most enticing thing. It can be difficult to pay attention to lectures in a classroom setting.

Driver’s education is incredibly important, and it doesn’t have to be boring! Taking an a href="https://www.safe2drive.com/driver-education" target="blank">online driver’s education class is more convenient than sitting in a classroom learning about defensive driving skills and traffic laws. Taking an online driver’s ed course like ours here at Safe2Drive allows you to learn from the comfort of your own bedroom, or anywhere you have access to the internet.

We believe in the importance of driver education courses, and we know it’s easier to retain information when it’s presented in multiple modalities (e.g., text, videos, animations, and games). Don’t make the mistake of taking a driver’s education course in an environment where you might not be best equipped to retain any of the crucial information.

Everyone makes mistakes. We’re human, after all! Some mistakes, however, are more costly than others. Sometimes one mistake is the difference between life and death. It’s morbid, but the truth is car crashes are the leading cause of death to people age 15 to age 20. Many of these collisions are caused by human error, meaning they could have been avoided by drivers using defensive driving strategies. It’s important for new drivers especially to understand common mistakes and how to avoid them because new drivers are statistically more likely to cause a collision than older, more experienced drivers.

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5/9/2022

Emerging Vehicle Technologies

by Courtney Conley

My first car was a hand-me-down 1997 Saturn. General Motors stopped making the Saturn back in 2009 but, for me, it was a good little car. In the winter, I would pop my cassette adapter into the tape deck, connect it to my MP3 player, and wait for what felt like forever until my car warmed up. These days, I open an app on my phone and with the tap of a button, my car warms up before I even step outside. My phone connects to my car’s Bluetooth automatically without all the tangled wires of the past. Emerging vehicle technologies are constantly making our lives easier and changing the game-so much so that it’s hard to keep up!

Now, it’s odd to think that most cars didn’t even come with seat belts until the 60s. Vehicles have come so far in a relatively short amount of time, and emerging technologies aren’t slowing down any time soon. From technology that automates driving, to charging your electric car just by driving on the roadway, one thing’s for sure: it’s an exciting time to be a driver.

Autonomous vehicles, often referred to as "self-driving" cars, are probably the most highly-anticipated emerging vehicle technology today. As of right now, there aren’t any fully automated vehicles available for sale, and fully automated vehicles are limited to testing and research purposes only. Automated vehicles are still a thing of the future, and it’s unclear if or when the technology will be available for everyone.

For now, drivers are still essential to the driving task. Most collisions are caused by human error and inattention. Even though our vehicles aren’t automated, many vehicles today have features that assist drivers on the road.

Lane Departure Warning

Have you ever spaced out a little on the highway, only to be startled by the vibration of rumble strips as your vehicle drifts out of your lane? Lane departure warnings alert the driver when they detect the vehicle straying from its lane without using a turn signal. This is your heads-up that you need to stay in your lane.

Lane Keeping Assistance

Unlike lane departure warnings, lane keeping assistance will actually automatically put gentle pressure on the steering wheel, keeping you in your lane when it detects you drifting.

Forward Collision Warning

A forward collision warning system sends an alert to the driver when they’re in danger of a collision ahead. This is a helpful feature, but only if the driver heeds the warning and makes adjustments to avoid the collision.

Blind Spot Warning

Blind spot warnings are incredibly helpful when it comes to keeping your attention in the right places. While you should visually check your blind spots, a blind spot warning system will give an audio and/or visual alert when there’s a vehicle you may not have noticed in your blind spot.

Adaptive Cruise Control

It wasn’t so long ago that cruise control was a new technology. Cruise control is great for making sure you keep a consistent speed on long stretches of road, and adaptive cruise control takes it one step forward. This system automatically adjusts your speed to make sure you’re not too close to the vehicle in front of you. Now you don’t have to push down on the brake to slow down, get back up to speed, then set your cruise control again when there’s a slower vehicle ahead.

Automatic High Beams

It’s a terrible experience when you’re driving in the dark and the vehicle approaching you forgets to turn off their high beams as they pass you. This isn’t a problem anymore if your vehicle has automatic high beams. When an oncoming vehicle approaches you at night, this system will automatically switch between your high beams and low beams as needed.

Pedestrian Detection and Automatic Braking

More than 6,700 pedestrians were killed in collisions in 2020. Vehicles with pedestrian detection and automatic braking help keep pedestrians safe by detecting when a pedestrian is in front of the vehicle and automatically applying the brakes to avoid a collision.

Wireless Electric Vehicle Charging

This is another technology that’s not ready for us yet, but it’s promising for the future of electric vehicles. The Indiana Department of Transportation is partnering with Purdue University to develop a new contactless wireless-charging stretch of concrete pavement on the highway. With the goal to reduce emissions and pollutants from vehicles, this technology will allow for drivers of electric vehicles to charge up just by driving on special parts of the roadway. Pretty cool!

Watching emerging vehicle technologies become available for the public is exciting, especially when that technology is working to help keep everyone safe. Just remember that technology can’t replace the driver (yet). Even with all of the driver assistance technology available today, it’s up to the driver to stay alert and do everything they can in order to avoid collisions.

If you want to learn more about safe driving, or if you want to keep points off your driver record, take a look at our online courses! Click here to visit our website to see the online courses we offer in your state! You may even be able to get a discount on your insurance by taking one of our courses.

My first car was a hand-me-down 1997 Saturn. General Motors stopped making the Saturn back in 2009 but, for me, it was a good little car. In the winter, I would pop my cassette adapter into the tape deck, connect it to my MP3 player, and wait for what felt like forever until my car warmed up. These days, I open an app on my phone and with the tap of a button, my car warms up before I even step outside. My phone connects to my car’s Bluetooth automatically without all the tangled wires of the past. Emerging vehicle technologies are constantly making our lives easier and changing the game-so much so that it’s hard to keep up!

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5/2/2022

Why Does Driving Make Us Angry?

by Courtney Conley

We carry our emotions with us everywhere we go, even on the road. It seems like people are more restless and quick to anger on the road than before. While you can’t control everyone else’s actions on the road, you can certainly control your own.

Road Rage

Aggressive driving and road rage are sometimes used interchangeably, but there’s a difference between the two. Aggressive driving is a moving violation, or a combination of moving violations, that puts other people in danger on the road. Aggressive driving can look like speeding, improperly changing lanes, failing to yield the right-of-way, and ignoring traffic signals and devices.

Road rage, on the other hand, is a criminal offense. It’s an elevated form of aggressive driving where the driver commits an assault with their vehicle. Road rage can be a driver stepping out of their vehicle to start a fight with someone, intentionally causing a collision with another driver, or even threatening other drivers with a weapon. Both of these offenses carry heavy consequences.

It’s okay to be annoyed or even mad at another driver, but it’s not okay to retaliate against that driver in any way. Here are some tips for controlling your anger on the road:

Don’t take it personally. If another driver seems mad at you for something, that’s their problem. It’s not your job to return their anger. If another driver is driving "badly," have some empathy for them. You never know what someone else is going through.

Take a few deep breaths. It’s hard to control intense emotions. Taking a few deep breaths lets your brain know it needs to settle down. One way to do this is to breathe in deeply for four counts, then release your breath for eight counts. After doing this a few times, your body will feel calmer and more regulated, even if you’re still feeling angry emotionally.

Take a break. It’s important to pay close attention to the road as you drive. If relaxing your muscles and a few deep breaths don’t work right away, you may need to pull over in a safe place and park your vehicle. Let in some fresh air and continue to take deep, calming breaths. Don’t get back on the road until you can drive with your full attention on the road.

While everyone copes with their emotions differently (or sometimes not at all), physical things like deep breaths and releasing tension in your body are proven ways to pause your anger and prevent it from escalating to road rage. Chances are you’ll still feel a little angry when certain situations arise, but that’s okay as long as you handle your anger appropriately and refuse to escalate it to a dangerous level.

If you want to learn more about safe driving, or if you want to keep points off your driver record, take a look at our online courses! Click here to visit our website to see the online courses we offer in your state! You may even be able to get a discount on your insurance by taking one of our courses.

We carry our emotions with us everywhere we go, even on the road. It seems like people are more restless and quick to anger on the road than before. While you can’t control everyone else’s actions on the road, you can certainly control your own.

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