Category Archive: Safe Driving

Train crash escape route

Train Crash Escape Route

If you’re facing a train crash, what’s the best escape route for you? A trucker in Georgia faced this problem yesterday when he found his truck stuck on the railroad crossing. The trucker probably didn’t consider the height of the railroad grade when he tried to drive over it and, as he crossed to the other side, found the bottom of his trailer had failed to clear and he was stuck fast on the rails.

If you find yourself stuck or stalled on the rails at a railroad crossing, the experts say you should get out of the vehicle and escape in the direction of the oncoming train. However, a lot of people have a hard time understanding that rule. If you’re facing a train crash, why run toward the train?

The picture below shows why your escape route needs to be away from the tracks in the direction of the train. Once the train hits your vehicle, debris is going to be spread out in in the direction in which the train is traveling. If your escape route is away from the train, chances are that you’re going to be hit by all that exploding debris scattered outward from the crash. It’s not a position you want to be in.


Train crash escape route

Click on picture to enlarge

You can avoid being stuck on the tracks to begin with by;

    • Never stopping on the railroad tracks. If there’s traffic ahead, wait until the traffic clears and there’s enough clear room for you on the other side of the tracks before you cross.
    • Never trying to beat a train at a crossing; the train will always win.
    • Knowing the bottom clearance of your vehicle. If you think the railroad grade may be too high, stop and find another route.

Car stuck on railroad grade

Summer is the deadliest period for teen drivers.

The Deadliest Period For Teen Drivers

The recent Memorial Day weekend began the deadliest period of the year for teen drivers. Known as the “deadliest 100 days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has, for many years, seen a significant rise in the deaths of teen drivers and their passengers.

The fatality increase during the summer months is due to several factors:

  • Teens are out of school with extra time on their hands.
  • Teens are bored and looking for excitement.
  • Teens often fail to pace themselves – spending all day doing physically taxing activities at the beach and then going out late into the night.
  • Alcohol or other drugs are often a part of the summer activities.

One might think that inexperience behind-the-wheel would also play a major role in the summer death rate and it does to an extent however, teens with the least experience have a much lower death rate than teens that have been driving a few years. Among Florida teen drivers aged 15 through 20 killed in 2014, drivers aged 15 through 17 made up only 12 percent of the teen deaths. Teen drivers aged 18, 19, and 20 accounted for 88 percent of the teen deaths during the deadliest period.

The death rate among older teens may be due to the fact that the older teens, after getting over the initial fear of solo driving become less cautious and more complacent. Another reason is that restrictions imposed on younger drivers by Graduated Driving Laws (GDL) are generally lifted by age 18 and teens who exercised caution during their probationary driving periods have now thrown caution to the wind.

Another issue that adds to the deadliest period is that of driver distractions. When discussing driver distractions, most automatically think of cell phones and texting. Those are serious and dangerous distractions but, surprisingly, they aren’t the distractions that contribute to most teen crashes. The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently published the results of a study that used video cameras to follow 1,691 teen drivers for five years. During that period, the study subjects experienced a total of 538 crashes. While distractions by cell phones led to 12 percent of the crashes, distractions by talking to and interacting with teen passengers led to 15 percent of the crashes.

Teen passengers are a major distraction for teen drivers and that’s why many states restrict the number of passengers a teen driver can carry under their GDL laws. The lifting of both cell phone and passenger restrictions at age 18 is probably a major factor for the deaths among older teens during the deadliest period.

No matter what state law may say, parents can still impose their own driving restrictions on teens. Parents can limit the number of passengers to reduce distractions and they can ban the use of cell phones while driving. Parents who set the example by limiting their own use of cell phones and other distracting behaviors while driving stand the best chance of getting their teens to obey the rules.

Driver on the verge of road rage

Where Is Road Rage The Worst?

A new survey has come out listing those states and cities with the worst instances of road rage. This study, using some different methodology has some surprising results compared to studies in the past.

Past studies we have written about were sponsored by AutoVantage, an online insurance company. To conduct those studies, AutoVantage conducted phone interviews with 2500 drivers in 25 major metropolitan areas. The latest study, conducted by AutoInsuranceCenter, another online insurance company, looked at 65,535 Instagram posts that were hashtagged #RoadRage. The results of this study showed where and when the greatest number of road rage incidents were happening.

According to the Instagram posts, the greatest number of road rage incidents occurred:

  • During the month of August.
  • On Fridays.
  • During the hours of 5:00pm and 7:00pm.

Surprisingly, the state with the greatest number of Instagram road rage posts was Hawaii. A vacation paradise isn’t normally what most people would connect with road rage. However, as anyone who lives in a tourists center, like Orlando for example, knows large numbers of tourists trying to navigate around a strange city can be extremely frustrating. Tourists also tend to bring their bad and discourteous driving behaviors with them when they go on vacation and that can also be very frustrating.

The last AutoVantage study listed Houston, followed by Atlanta as the cities where road rage was most likely to be encountered. The new study by AutoInsuranceCenter lists Los Angeles, followed by New York City as the worst cities. Houston and Atlanta fell to eighth and tenth place respectively.

A study that depends on Instagram messages may not be highly accurate because it depends on people posting an Instagram while they’re still angry enough to do something about it. If they were to wait until they got home, they may have calmed down enough to let it go. However, drivers who tend to post on Instagram while driving are probably adding to the problem by not watching the road ahead.

To avoid road rage situations:

  • Pay attention to the road ahead.
  • Don’t use your phone or try to send or read any kind of messages while driving.
  • Don’t speed but don’t drive too slowly either.
  • Don’t tailgate.
  • If you aren’t sure where you are or where you’re going, get off the road long enough to get your bearings so that you don’t hold up traffic.
  • Don’t respond to an angry driver.
  • Don’t try to retaliate against another driver, no matter what they may have done.
  • Don’t stop to confront an angry driver.
  • When dealing with an angry driver, never roll down your windows or get out of your car.

For more information, visit: #RoadRage – Instagram Posts Reveal America’s Biggest Frustrations Behind the Wheel

Spring break apps

Stay Safe With Spring Break Apps

For those headed out of town for spring break, whether it be to a sunny beach or a snowy ski slope, your vacation can create a lifetime of fond memories or, with one mistake, a lifetime of regret. Here are a couple of spring break apps to help you avoid that lifetime of regret.

A lot of students on spring break give in to the urge to drink and the lack of judgment that comes with alcohol use can lead to trouble. Police in spring break locales are beefing up their DUI patrols and are on the lookout for any driver that might show signs of being under the influence of alcohol. It’s such a big problem in spring break cities that the local police have no tolerance for driving under the influence and are very unforgiving.

One way to stay out of trouble is to decide on a plan before you go out to drink. If you decide beforehand that you’ll use a designated driver or call a cab to get home, chances are that you’ll stick with that decision but, if you wait until after you’ve been drinking and your judgment is affected, you may not make such smart choices. If you feel you must drink, here are a couple of spring break apps that, hopefully, will keep you out of trouble.

ENDUI (as in End DUI) is an app that warns you if you’ve had too much to drink. The user plugs in their sex, height, and weight and then, by telling it how many drinks have been consumed, it calculates your approximate Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). The app also has games that can test your reaction time. If you decide, before you go out, to limit your drinking, this can be a good tool to warn you when you’ve reached your limit. However, the app only gives an approximate BAC and can’t be used to determine your actual BAC. One drink, such as certain cocktails can have several shots and have up to four times the alcohol content of a typical drink. Only a breathalyzer or blood test can give an accurate BAC reading.

Another app called “SaferRide”, created by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), doesn’t try to determine your BAC but, instead, can locate and call a local taxi service for anyone who needs a ride home. It can also hold a list of designated drivers that the user pre-programs into the app. This app is ideal for those on vacation in an unfamiliar city.

Both of these handy spring break apps are free and available for download:

ENDUI Apple iOS or Android.

SaferRideAndroid, or Apple iOS.

Remember that buzzed driving is impaired driving. Make your spring break a fond memory and not a regret.

Poor driving choices by teens

Some Teen Safe Driving Choices Are Still Dangerous

Researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently conducted a study to gauge teen attitudes on safe driving choices regarding cell phones. The researchers saw some encouraging signs but say there’s still a long way to go before cell phone use by teens while driving is a thing of the past.

To conduct their research, the researchers conducted several focus groups with 16 to 18 year old drivers. The questions asked of the teen drivers were designed to get an overall view of teen perceptions regarding cell phone use while driving with the intent of gathering information to help develop future interventions to reduce risky driving choices by teens.

According to the head researcher, Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN, it was encouraging to see that teens recognized that cell phone use, texting, and use of social media are dangerous behind-the-wheel. When asked what methods teens used to prevent the use of cell phones while driving, some teens listed methods such as turning off the cell phone or pulling off the road before making or answering a call. However, some teens listed choices such as waiting for a red light or until they were on familiar roads before diverting their attention to the cell phone.

While it’s good that they are considering ways to reduce their cell phone use, those choices such as waiting for red lights or familiar roads are still dangerous choices that take their eyes and mental attention off the road.

  • Choosing to use hands-free communication devices has been shown to be no safer than the use of hand-held devices.
  • A driver’s attention at red lights is important too. Not noticing that the light has turned green can hold up traffic behind and lead angry drivers to try to retaliate.
  • Research shows that hands-free devices are still distracting for up to 27 seconds after hanging up.
  • Waiting for familiar roads is a bad choice because most traffic collisions happen within 25 miles of home and at speeds below 45 mph. Drivers become complacent on those familiar roads and that leads to even more distractions.

According to the researchers, until more effective methods are developed to pry teens away from their cell phones while driving, parents are still the primary influence in promoting safer choices by teens. Setting a good example and insisting on strict rules for cell phone use while driving, parents can help keep their teens safe on the road.