Katie_Couric_Sharing Safety Advice

Michelin And Katie Kouric Want Your Best Driving Safety Advice

Michelin North America and Katie Kouric have teamed up to collect the best driving advice that you were given when you were a new driver. Not only do they want your best piece of advice, they want the story behind it.

Michelin is tying this in with a survey they commissioned that shows what most people knew already; most people think they’re good drivers but feel that most other drivers aren’t so good. What that really means is that most people can recognize bad driving behaviors in others but not in themselves.

Here are the main findings from the survey:

  • The majority of drivers are confident in their own driving abilities (81 percent rank themselves highly), but 66 percent have felt unsafe when someone else was at the wheel.
  • 3 in 4 (73 percent) have witnessed an accident or experienced a “close call” firsthand (76 percent), and 62 percent have been in an accident that someone else caused.
  • 69 percent see other motorists ignoring safe-driving practices daily.
  • Not surprisingly, 75 percent of drivers admit to “offering advice from the other seat.”
  • The driving advice people receive most frequently includes signaling before changing lanes (75 percent) and staying in the right lane unless you’re passing (68 percent).

The survey also found that most people received their best piece of driving advice from their dad (52%), mom (32%), and driving instructor (27%). That’s great if Dad was truly a good driver and gave good advice. The problem is that too many bad drivers, without realizing it, are passing on their bad driving behaviors to their teens.

Most of the bad driving behaviors teens learn from their parents were learned by observing their parents drive from the time they were toddlers until they started to drive on their own. Those learned behaviors combined with a teen’s natural tendency to take risks, led to the deaths of 1,691 teen drivers in 2013.

Here’s a chance for both teens and their parents to pass on those good bits of driving wisdom and hopefully, through the story behind the advice, help others to be safer on the road.

Read more: Katie Couric, Michelin Encourage Drivers to Share Best Advice on Safe Driving

Teen drivers

“5 to Drive” Rules To Keep Teen Drivers Safe

It’s Teen Driver Safety Week and this year’s theme is “5 to Drive”, referring to five things teen drivers need to be aware of when they drive. The five things are practices by teens that are the most common cause of teen crashes or that increase the chances of greater injury or death in a crash. The five rules that teens must obey if they want to live through a trip on the road are:

  1. No alcohol
  2. No cell phone use while driving
  3. No driving or riding without wearing a seat belt.
  4. No speeding.
  5. No extra passengers.

We’ve written about most of these before in a column on the most common type of teen crash. The only thing not covered in that column was the extent to which alcohol and other drugs contribute to teen crashes.

While alcohol use by teens has gone down significantly over the past few years, it still plays a big role in teen crashes. Of all the teen drivers (ages 15-20) killed in 2013, 29 percent had a BAC level of .01 or higher. Among those killed with measurable amounts of alcohol in their system, 82 percent had a BAC level of .08 or higher.  More and more research studies show that other drugs along with alcohol are also showing up among drivers involved in crashes.

Cell phones, whether they’re being used for phone calls, texting, or social networking, present a significant danger to drivers of all ages but are especially dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers. Studies show that even hands free cell phone use is distracting.

Among young people aged 16-20 killed in crashes in 2013, more than half (55%) weren’t wearing seat belts. Fifty percent of the teen drivers killed in 2013 were unrestrained. Among teen drivers who survived a fatal crash, 85 percent were wearing seat belts. Studies show that teens who might otherwise wear a seat belt when driving themselves, don’t wear seat belts when riding as a passenger of another teen driver.

Speeding is responsible for approximately one-third of all fatal crashes in the US every year. For drivers under the age of 20 who were involved in fatal crashes, 35 percent of the males and 21 percent of the females were speeding. Speeding reduces the time a driver has to react to an emergency situation ahead and it increases the crash forces. Many teens learn, to their horror, that it’s impossible to keep a speeding car on the road in a curve.

Cell phones aren’t the only distraction for teen drivers. According to a 2012 study by the AAA Foundation For Traffic Safety, a teen driver’s risk of involvement in a deadly crash increases by 44 percent with one teen passenger in the vehicle. The risk doubles with two teen passengers and quadruples with three or more passengers. A teen driver is more likely to engage in risky behavior when one or more teen passengers are present.

Graduated driving laws were created to give teen drivers extra time to gain more driving experience by outlawing the five practices that contribute to so many teen crashes. However graduated driving laws for teens aren’t equal in all states. Parents should be aware of the laws in their state and, if their state’s graduated driving laws don’t go far enough to limit the distractions that teens face, parents can enact their own graduated driving license laws through the use of a teen driving contract.

Safest used cars for teen drivers

IIHS Updates List Of Safest Used Cars For Teens

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has updated their list of the safest used cars for teens and, with manufacturers creating more and more safer vehicles, the list is 50 percent larger than last year’s list.

The IIHS found last year that teens were more likely to drive cars that were smaller, older, and less safe than vehicles driven by their parent’s generation. To guide parents and teens toward safer vehicles, the IIHS published their first list of safest used cars for teens last year.

The criteria for choosing the safest used cars hasn’t changed. Those criteria are:

  • Stay away from high horsepower vehicles. Teens don’t need to be tempted to test the limits.
  • Larger, heavier vehicles offer more protection in a crash. Small, light vehicles such as smart cars and mini-coopers weren’t considered for the list.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is required. ESC prevents over-correction and helps keep the car on the road in curves and on slippery roads. ESC is now mandatory in all vehicles built since 2012.
  • Vehicles should have the best safety rating possible. Vehicles should score “good” ratings in moderate overlap front crash tests, acceptable ratings in side tests and receive four or five stars from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The safest used cars list is broken into two categories;

  • Best Choices – Safest used cars under $20,000
  • Good Choices – Safest used cars under $10,000

The IIHS based their price estimates on Kelly Blue Book values as of September 1st of this year.

Read More: Safe and affordable: updated used vehicle recommendations for teens

Texting and walking

Texting and Walking Injuries Are Increasing

Texting and walking injuries and deaths are on the rise according to a new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) and the danger is especially high for teens. The report is a compilation of several studies including data compiled by Ohio State University, the University of Washington, the University of Georgia, and the Pew Research Center.

According to the Ohio State research, “between 2004 and 2010 the number of pedestrians killed while using a cell phone increased from less than 1% to 3.6%” and, in 2010, more than 1,500 pedestrians were estimated to be treated for injuries related to cell phone use while walking. Since 2005, the number of pedestrians injured while using a cell phone has more than doubled.

The Washington State researchers observed more than 1,100  pedestrians at 20 intersections in Seattle and found that “approximately one-third were engaged in a distracting activity such as emailing, talking to another person or listening to music.”

The University of Georgia researchers did a similar study but selected 20 intersections that were considered to be high risk based on data from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Their study showed that nearly half of pedestrians were engaged in some sort of distracting behavior.

A Pew Research Center survey found that 53 percent of adult cell phone users have bumped into something or someone due to distracted walking. The bump rate is especially high for those in the 18 to 24 year age group.

The problem is especially bad for teens who do this on a regular basis. Safe Kids Worldwide reports that forty percent of teens have been hit or nearly hit by a car, bike or motorcycle while walking. Their report shows that one out of five teens and one out of eight middle schoolers regularly cross the street while distracted by some sort of technology. Teens now have the highest pedestrian death rate among children 19 and younger.

The problem has become so bad that the Urban Dictionary has coined a new phrase for it: Petextrian n. One who texts while walking, usually unaware of their surroundings.

It’s obvious that, if you can’t even text and walk safely, texting while driving is out of the question.

Read more: Everyone Walks


There’s No Such Thing As A Traffic Accident!

There’s no such thing as a traffic accident! We have written on this before but it bears repeating; especially for young drivers. Before anyone tries to tell us we’re crazy, let’s take a look at the meaning of the word accident.

The dictionary defines an accident as “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.”

An accident is a situation that we have no control over. If you’re struck by lightning or a tree limb falls and hits you in the head, that’s an accident. However, where there’s a motor vehicle crash, it’s rarely an accident; it was caused.

Motor vehicle crashes are caused when one or more drivers make a poor choice and that poor choice leads to a crash. Driving too fast to safely react to road conditions ahead or running a red light are examples of the poor choices that drivers make and they aren’t accidents; they are deliberate choices made by the driver. Even allowing yourself to be distracted and not paying attention to the road ahead is a choice that a driver makes and it can easily lead to a crash but not to an accident.

As drivers, we have choices and we can either choose to drive safely, pay attention to the road ahead, and use caution when potentially dangerous situations come up ahead. Or, we can choose to speed, run red lights, send text messages, or just allow our minds to wander and not pay attention to what may be ahead of us. The crash may be unintentional but the driver’s poor choice caused it. As drivers, the choices are ours and ours alone and can’t be blamed on some outside force.

Of course, if you’re driving safely and obeying all the traffic laws and someone hits you, from your perspective, the situation would qualify as an accident but, for the other driver who hit you as the result of a poor choice he or she made, it wasn’t an accident at all.

So what about bad weather events? Can’t bad weather cause accidents? It all depends on how the driver reacts to the bad weather. Did he or she continue to drive at normal speeds in a heavy fog or fail to realize that there may be patches of slick ice on the road? Did the driver slow down or get off the road to wait for a heavy rain storm to pass? Weather can cause accidents but, more often than not, it was the poor choice of how the driver reacted to the bad weather that causes a crash.

An organization called Families for Safe Streets is calling for people to stop using the word accident when it comes to motor vehicle crashes. The organization is made up of people who have lost loved ones in motor vehicle crashes and they want to spread the word that they didn’t lose their loved one due to an accident. They want it known that a driver made the choice to take the actions that led to the death of their loved one.

Families for Safe Streets is conducting a drive to educate people that there are no motor vehicle accidents and the word “crash” should be used instead. If you agree, they’re asking you to sign a pledge and help spread the word to stop using the word accident when motor vehicles are involved.

To sign the pledge, go to: I will not call traffic crashes “accidents.” I will educate others about why “crash” is a better word.