Backing out of a parking spot

Ask The Traffic School Instructor: Backing Out Of A Parking Spot

Question: I was backing out of a parking spot and couldn’t see due to a large van parked next to me. Even though I was backing very slowly and carefully, I was hit by another car. Who’s at fault in this crash?

Answer: Technically, the driver who will be held at fault in a situation like this will be the driver who is backing out of the parking spot.

In looking at the Florida Statutes, the law simply says “The driver of a vehicle shall not back the same unless such movement can be made with safety and without interfering with other traffic.” That puts the responsibility of preventing a crash on the shoulders of the person backing out of the parking spot.

However, that being said, the true blame can probably be equally shared among the two drivers. Florida law also says the law doesn’t relieve anyone “from the duty to drive with due regard for the safety of all persons, nor shall such provisions protect the driver from the consequences of his or her reckless disregard for the safety of others.”

If the other driver was driving too fast or not paying attention, he or she shares in the blame. When driving in a parking lot, drivers should drive slowly, be on the lookout for anyone who may back out in front of them, and be prepared to stop quickly to avoid a crash. Even though the other driver may share in the blame, the person backing out will probably be the only one to get a ticket for failure to use due caution.

Remember that no one has the right-of-way. The law only tries to determine who should have yielded the right-of-way to another driver. The person backing out should yield the right-of-way to the drivers in the travel lanes but those drivers in the travel lanes should also be prepared to yield to prevent a crash.

Best Booster Seat

Insurance Institute Lists Best Booster Seats

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has come out with their list of best booster seats for 2014. To test the booster seats, the IIHS uses a special test dummy that represents the average six year old under a range of conditions that test for proper fit and placement under a range of different seat belt configurations.

When selecting a booster seat for your child, the key item to look for is proper fit and placement of the seat belts. Seat belts aren’t really designed for children and can ride up over the soft tissue of the abdomen instead of riding low over the hips. An improperly fitted seat belt could harm the child in a crash. Booster seats are designed to raise the child up so that the seat belt fits properly over the upper thighs and the shoulder harness rests over the center of the shoulder.

In assigning a “best bet” rating to a booster seat, the IIHS has determined that the booster seat will perform well on the typical four to eight year old in a variety of vehicles and seat belt configurations.

In checking with various retailers, the best bet seats range in price anywhere from under $25 to more than $200. For more information on testing procedures, proper fitting and the list of the top rated booster seats, visit: Booster evaluations for 2014

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Bicycle deaths on the rise

Bicycle Deaths On The Rise

Bicycle deaths are on the rise according to a report published by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). Unlike motor vehicle deaths that increased by only one percent, bicycle deaths increased by 16 percent between 2010 and 2012.

The report also shows some big changes in the patterns and trends of bicycle deaths compared to years past;

  • Eighty-four percent of the bicycle deaths involved adults aged 20 and over compared to 21 percent in 1975.
  • Males made up 74 percent of the bicycle deaths.
  • Sixty-nine percent of bicycle deaths occurred in urban areas compared to 50 percent in 1975.
  • Commuting by bicycle has increased by 62 percent since 2000.

While bicycle deaths have increased nationwide, 54 percent of the bicycle deaths occurred in just six states; California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Michigan and Texas.

Another disturbing trend is that, unlike alcohol related motor vehicle deaths which have gone down, bicyclists with a relatively high BAC have remained fairly constant.

In order to stop the trend, several things have to happen:

  • Roads and highways need to include dedicated bicycle lanes.
  • Motorists need to become more aware that bicycles are considered vehicles and they have a right to use the road. Motorists also need to be on the lookout for bicyclists, especially in urban areas where bicycle commuting is on the rise.
  • More awareness needs to be given to the protection afforded by bicycle helmets.
  • More awareness needs to be given to the fact that bicycling under the influence is just as dangerous as driving under the influence.

Read more: Bicyclist Fatalities a Growing Problem for Key Groups

Texting more dangerous

Aware Of The Dangers, Drivers Text Anyway

Even though they say they are aware of the dangers, most drivers still continue to use their cell phones and text while driving according to a new survey from AT&T.

As part of a campaign against texting and driving, AT&T surveyed 1,004 US adults about their driving and texting habits. The survey showed that, while 98 percent said they were aware of the dangers;

  • Seventy-five percent admit to texting while driving.
  • Two-thirds have read text messages while waiting at a traffic light.
  • Twenty-five percent have sent text messages while driving.
  • More than one-quarter believe they are capable of safely doing several things at once while driving.

Read more: Survey finds people text and drive knowing dangers

First snow of the year

First Snow Of The Year

Oddly enough, the first snow of the year is forecast for this Halloween weekend throughout the mountain areas of the Southeastern US. Weather forecasts call for the possibility of as much as eight to twelve inches in the higher elevations along the Tennessee/North Carolina border and one to three inches in Asheville NC.

Forecasters call for rain in these regions that will turn to snow as the temperatures start to fall. Hopefully, these areas won’t experience the crippling driving conditions that Atlanta experienced last January.

You may remember the headlines from earlier this year when hundreds of thousands of drivers in Atlanta were released from work and hit the road at the same time. Many never made it home and vehicles were left abandoned on Atlanta roads for days afterwards. A lot of people up north gave Atlanta residents a hard time for their inability to deal with what seemed to be only a couple of inches of snow but they didn’t get the whole picture.

That morning in Atlanta, as the snow began to fall, the roadways were still relatively warm causing the snow to melt as it hit the roadways. As temperatures started to plunge, that layer of melted snow turned to a sheet of ice that was later covered with a layer of snow. It was the solid sheet of ice that caused the problems, not the snow!

After Denver and Phoenix, Atlanta, located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains at over 1,000 feet, is the third highest major city in the US. Metro Atlanta’s topography consists of high hills and deep ravines and, when any one of Metro Atlanta’s 5.5 million residents pull out of their driveway, they will be headed either up or downhill.

It wasn’t the snow that caused the problems in Atlanta but hundreds of thousands of vehicles trying to make it up and down those high, ice coated hills. It was a nightmare that few cities in a similar situation would be able to cope with.

Drivers who aren’t used to driving in snow need to use extreme caution if they attempt to go out in the snow this weekend. Most driver manuals in states that have a lot of snow and ice offer these driving rules for coping with wintry driving conditions. When driving on:

  • Wet roads: Slow down 5 to 10 mph.
  • Packed snow: Slow down to half speed.
  • Ice: Slow to a crawl.

In addition to watching your speed, you should at least double the following distance between you and the vehicle ahead.

Know what type of brakes you have. If you have standard brakes, don’t slam on your brakes when driving on snow or ice; instead, lightly pump your brakes to slow the vehicle. If you have anti-lock brakes, apply firm pressure to the brake pedal.

If you start to skid, turn your wheel in the direction of the skid and don’t concentrate on looking at the hazards to the sides. Keep your eyes on where you want the vehicle to go and make steering adjustments to steer in that direction.

Be aware that snow tires don’t work well on ice.

This is a perfect training opportunity for your teen driver but you should limit their driving to no further than the end of the street at very low speeds. It should be quite an eye opening experience for your teen. Be prepared however for the possibility that your teen may take out a mailbox or two. It’s far better for your teen to learn under controlled conditions like this than to experience it for the first time on their own after they get their operator’s license.