The Holidays Turn Tragic for Many Drivers – 3 Tips for Staying Safe

 car-crash-ambulance-istock_000020422562_extrasmall“We’re late for the Party”

“We’re gonna miss the big sale!”

“I’m okay to drive, I only had a few”

“That can’t happen to me”

“I’m an excellent driver”

“Nobody drives my car, but me”

These statements read like ghosts from Holidays Past. They are the situations that many of us put ourselves into at this time of year and the results are often tragic.

Compound these issues with a huge increase in traffic, and the results are predictable.

Did you know? Two of the 10 Deadliest Driving Days of the Year are Jan 1st (#5) and December 23rd (#3).

Now you can understand New Year’s Day (beginning with New Year’s Eve) at #5, but December 23rd – two days before Christmas – is historically the 3rd deadliest day of the year on the road! 

 December 23rd really? What are the reasons, you may ask? The most obvious is, of course, a little too much ‘Holiday Cheer.’ We all must face the fact that our judgment becomes impaired after even 1-2 drinks, rendering our ability to determine if we’re “okay to drive”  – completely invalid!

Government statistics show that nearly 10,000 traffic fatalities (about 31%) involve an alcohol-impaired driver. http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving Even if none of the above concerns you, consider this:

The average cost of a DUI (even a first offense)                  – $5,000 – $12,000
The average cost of a cab ride                                                         – about $25

Here is a good rule of thumb – when there is doubt, there is no doubt. Call a cab (or Uber or Lyft if you prefer.) 

Okay, so I know that all of you reading this are much too smart to drink and drive, however… Drinking and Driving is only one of the Holiday pitfalls we need to avoid.

Here are 3 Tips to keep you safe on the road:

  1. Leave Early! Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a philosophy – if you aren’t 15 minutes early, you’re late. Adopt the “Lombardi Time” schedule and you will become much safer behind the wheel (and less stressed in general)
  2. Stay Calm! The key to Safe Driving is Attitude. Here are a couple of techniques to maintain a safe attitude behind the wheel:

a. Anticipate stupidity – other drivers will cut you off and drive recklessly– you can count on it. Don’t get mad; don’t get even – just get away!

b. Reframe – imagine that the offending driver is on their way to an emergency, and has a valid reason for endangering themselves and everyone else on the road.

c. Refocus – remember that the most important thing is for you and your passengers to arrive alive – that is your goal.

  1. Stay Focused on Driving!

Put the phone away (in the trunk or the glove box) before you drive. Cell phones and TWD (texting while driving) have become an epidemic on our roads. There is nothing that comes out of your phone that can’t wait. Before you answer that call, text, or tweet – ask yourself – is this message worth dying for?

Bonus tip: In the Spirit of the Holidays, be courteous and yield the right of way to another driver. You will be amazed at how many people are surprised and delighted by this. (FYI – it puts you in control of the situation.)

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

IT’S OK – MY FRIEND IS DRIVING!

franken_driver(2)

These words prompt a sigh of relief from too many Parents, when they should actually send chills down our collective spines.

You may already know that car crashes are the #1 Killer of 15-20 year olds in America, (more than drugs, alcohol, and guns combined). You may also know that 9 kids leave home every day and never return, and over 800 more are injured, many of them permanently.

What you may not know is that, according to the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), HALF of these young people that are lost or injured are passengers! That’s right, these kids are basically innocent bystanders. Now, you may choose to believe that they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but that is a False assumption!

Many of these tragedies are caused by our failure as Parents to ask the right questions and get tough with our kids if we don’t like the answers.

What are the right questions? Here are 7 vitally important ones. (Please add your own as you see fit:)

1 – Who is your friend? (Do we know them?)  

2- How many kids will be in the car?

New Jersey’s GDL (Graduated Driver’s License) Law has proven to be an important tool in reducing crashes. The law states that for the first 12    months, a new driver can only have one other person (who is not a parent of guardian) in the car. This includes siblings!

3- How long has your friend been driving?

A week? A month? 10 minutes? It’s important for you to know the answer. You want to be sure that the driver, at the very least, has developed some of the   basic physical driving skills.

Be aware however, that experience is grossly overrated. In fact, it’s possibly the worst of the 9 Deadly Driving Myths, (which just so happens to be the topic of our next article).

There are more than 5 Million crashes each year in the U.S. among “experienced” drivers, 21 and older. Driving is 90% mental and only 10% physical. Experience only makes drivers with unsafe driving habits, better at hiding their flaws.

4 – Any prior crashes or moving violations?

This is a good starting point. If the driver has a bad history, stay out of their vehicle!  But that isn’t enough. A critical mistake that most parents (and many companies) make is to predict future incidents by past history. This is a flawed strategy! A high-risk driver may be skilled enough to avoid problems – for a while. Statistics show that, eventually, risky driving behaviors catch up with the driver    and the inevitable crash occurs.

5 – Are they a high risk driver?

Many drivers are high-risk, especially young drivers. (Contact Chris West at Teacher’s Insurance cwest@plymouthrock.com to learn how you can pro-actively identify any driver’s risk level in 20 minutes!)

6 – What kind of car do they drive?

Specifically, you want to know how about the engine – how big, how many Horsepower and whether or not it is a Turbo. History has shown us that “too much HP – rhymes with T, and it stands for  Trouble.”

7 – Is it a convertible?

NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, let your kids ride in a convertible that does not have a roll bar. Many convertibles do not. (If you’re not sure what a roll bar is – Google it.) Then go and inspect any convertible that your kids are planning to ride in. A convertible without a roll bar becomes a death trap in a roll-over or flip-over crash.

If you aren’t asking these questions you are setting yourself up to become one of the thousands of families who lose a child each year in the U.S.

Don’t allow yourself to become a victim!

Too many of us suffer this fate because we trust the current driver training system, which is broken, and we fail to ask the right questions.

The good news is – 9 out of 10 of these tragedies can be prevented if we begin training our young drivers in the mental aspects of driving, and help them to establish Safe Driving Habits.

 Stay Safe Out There!

 P.S.: Coming later this month – don’t miss our article series: The 9 Deadly Driving Myths!

 

Think You’re a Good Driver?
Take our online test and find out now!
In 20 minutes we can tell any driver your Score and your Risk Level

Try it! It’s FUN and now i’s totally FREE until March 1st
(just click on the image)FTDS - CTA

 

 

Beware The Holiday Spike – 3 Safe Driving Tips to Help You Survive the Holidays

According to AAA, about 95 Million Americans will hit the road (and the skies) this Holiday Season.

We all Need to Beware of – the Holiday Spike!

“We’re late for the Party” Holiday Spike_small

“We’re gonna miss the big sale!”

“I’m fine, I only had a few” 

“It can’t happen to me”

“I’m an excellent driver”

These statements read like ghosts from Holidays Past. They are the situations that many of us put ourselves into at this time of year and the results are – The Holiday Spike!

What is The Holiday Spike?
It’s the statistical rise in car crashes, injuries and fatalities that occurs every Holiday Season. The numbers vary depending on gas prices and miles driven, but on average, fatalities rise anywhere from 10% – 300% at this time of year!

Did you know? 2 of the 10 Deadliest Days of the Year are Jan 1 (#5) and December 23rd (#3).

Upward graphNow, you can understand New Year’s Day
(beginning with New Year’s Eve) at #5,
but December 23rd – two days before Christmas –
is historically the
3rd deadliest day of the year on the road!

 December 23rd – really?
What are the reasons, you may ask?

The most obvious is, of course,
a little too much ‘Holiday Cheer.’

 We all must face the fact that our judgment becomes impaired after even 1-2 drinks, rendering our ability to determine if we’re “okay to drive”  – completely invalid!

Government statistics estimate that over 10,000 traffic fatalities (about 30%) involve an impaired driver. As if that weren’t sobering enough, the attorneys at www.drivinglaws.org have some even more sobering facts on their website:

Average cost of a DUI, (even a first offense) – about $5,000 – $12,000!
Average cost of a cab ride                                         – about 25 bucks.

A good rule of thumb is this – when there is doubt, there is no doubt. Call a cab (or Uber or Lyft if you prefer.)

 Okay, so I know all of you reading this are much too smart to drink and drive. What are some of the other reasons for The Spike? 

  1. Poor Time Management. Speed is the leading cause of crashes and fatalities, and failure to manage your time effectively is a major contributing factor. Before you ‘floor it’ to make up time, ask yourself; is it better to be a few minutes late, or to become known as the “late” (your name here)?
  2. Too Much Attitude. Here is the best-kept secret in driver training. Attitude is the key to Driving Defensively. Check your attitude at the (car) door and become like Mr. Spock behind the wheel – completely unemotional.

Somebody flips you the bird? Laugh and wave to them (try it – most of the time they’ll be embarrassed, think they might actually know you, and wave back).

Somebody cuts you off? Don’t “get even” – just “get away.” That driver stands a good chance of landing in the Hospital or the Morgue. Just make sure they don’t take you with them.

  1. Driving Distracted. Let’s get this straight – Multi-Tasking is a Myth!
    Studies have shown conclusively that the human brain works sequentially, not simultaneously. If you’re doing 2 things at once, (and they aren’t simple tasks like walking and chewing gum), you are doing both things BADLY!

You can see proof of this at www.brainfacts.org

Just as the reasons for The Spike are fairly simple, so are the solutions
Here are 3 Safe Driving Tips to avoid it

  1. Leave Early! Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi had a philosophy that if you aren’t 15 minutes early – you’re late. Adopt the “Lombardi Time” schedule and you will become much safer behind the wheel (and less stressed in general)
  2. Stay Calm! Once again, the key is Attitude. Here are a couple of techniques to maintain a safe driving attitude:

Anticipate stupidity – that way when the inevitable happens, it won’t surprise you. The offending driver will just be living up to your expectations.

Reframe – imagine that the offending driver is on their way to an emergency, and has a valid reason for driving like a fool.

Refocus – remember that the only important thing is for you and your passengers to arrive alive – and in one piece.

  1. Shut Up and Drive! You’re too important to die today!
    Put the phone in the trunk or the glove box before you drive. Cell phones and TWD (texting while driving) have become an epidemic on our roads. There is nothing that comes out of that phone that can’t wait, or is anywhere near as important as you are.

If you’re from another planet, this may not apply to you, but if you have a human brain, you cannot handle talking on your phone or texting and driving at the same time.

Bonus tip: Be courteous and yield the right of way to another driver. Doing this puts you in more control, and you will be amazed at how happy you make other drivers when you let them go first.

Happy and Safe Holidays to all!

Think You’re a Good Driver?
Take our online test and find out now!
In 20 minutes we can tell any driver  their Score and their Risk Level

Try it! It’s FUN and totally FREE until Jan 2nd
(just click on the image)FTDS - CTA

 

Is It All In Their Heads? Preparing Teens To Drive Safely

 

brain-194932  If you’re the parent of a teenager, you know how smart your teen is.
You also know how smart your teen thinks he or she is.

Of course there’s a significant gap between the two on occasion.

Lack of life experience makes it tough for teenagers to get an accurate grasp on
what they actually know versus what they think they know. When it comes
to safety behind the wheel, most teens are pretty confident they know what they’re
doing—and that they are good drivers.
They’re almost always wrong of course, but it isn’t entirely their fault. (Nor is it
the fault of the “experienced” unsafe drivers among us, for that matter.)
Whenever I speak to groups or teach a defensive driving course, it never ceases to amaze me that more than 95% of drivers are totally unprepared and totally under-trained. Driving is the most dangerous thing we do and most of us do it every day, yet only about 1% of drivers actually put any effort into improving their driving skills! The reality is that most crash victims are simply the unwitting casualties of a broken training system. If we want to stop losing 35,000 to 40,000 drivers per year (3,000 of which are 15 to 20 years old), we can do it easily, but only if we commit to more effective driver training. Of course there is one thing you can do to protect your young driver today—convince them to put the phone away when they’re driving! What? Your kid swears that they don’t text or use the phone when driving? Please read on and be enlightened. According to www.distraction.gov, the average teenager sends 2,500 texts per month. That’s like a part-time job! Do you actually think this stops just because they’re driving?

In fact, 97% of teen drivers surveyed said they thought texting while driving is dangerous—while 43% of them admitted to doing it anyway. (See the AT&T survey at: http://www.att.com/gen/press-room?pid=23181.)

For teens, that’s just “normal” behavior. After all, if half of their friends do it (and you know there are more who don’t admit it), why shouldn’t they?

Just because your teen can parrot back to you all the rules about safe driving (or agrees to sign a “pledge”) doesn’t mean that he or she is practicing safe driving habits. We as parents must be proactive and make sure our teens are mentally prepared to drive defensively. That means helping teens go beyond just knowing what to do and training them to respond properly so that it’s instinctive.

That’s why I founded Save Your Teen Driver.com. We help parents and teens evaluate their actual driving behavior and then train them on how to protect themselves on the road, until  safe driving becomes second nature.

Get your teen’s knowledge out of his or her head and put it behind the wheel!

A Critical Piece of the Driver Training Puzzle is MISSING!

Auto Accidents are killing more of our 15-20 year olds than ANYTHING ELSE! Over 3,000 15-20 year olds die in car accidents EACH YEAR! Just as disturbing, this age group is involved in over 1 MILLION accidents – about half resulting in injuries

It’s time to start teaching our kids to drive MENTALLY – not just physically
Our Save Your Teen Driver program evaluates and trains drivers in the 6 CORE AREAS that
CAUSE THE MAJORITY OF ACCIDENTS.