Category Archive: Safe Driving

Reducing teen crash rates

Reducing Driving Hours Saves Teen Lives

Canada’s Traffic Injury Research Foundation announced that by limiting a teenage driver’s time behind the wheel of a car, and reducing the number of people in his or her vehicle, accident rates among teen drivers can be reduced by 20 percent.

Researchers compared 2002 crash data amongst 16-year-old drivers in both Oregon and Ontario, Canada. Oregon has restrictions on unsupervised driving at night, while Ontario did not have any restrictions at that time.

Accidents among 16-year-old drivers who were at the wheel of a vehicle where injuries and fatalities occurred were 20 percent fewer in Oregon than Ontario, giving strong evidence that Graduated Drivers Licensing programs (GDL) can make a big difference.

Auto accidents are the leading cause of death among young people, killing around 6,000 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20. According to safety authorities, the lack of driving skills and experience make teenage drivers more prone to accidents.

“Teens who obey traffic rules and regulations, follow GDL regulations, and have actively involved parents are much less likely to crash,” commented J. Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, which sponsored the study.

Licensing laws that put restrictions on young drivers vary from state to state, and some are less demanding than others, as was the case in Oregon, with stronger GDL laws than Ontario.

Oregon prevents unsupervised driving by new drivers between midnight and 5 a.m. and prohibits passengers under age 20 from being in a car driven by an entry-level driver during the first six months of receiving a driver’s license.

According to Dan Mayhew, vice president of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, the findings, based on law enforcement accident data, imply that “the restrictions placed in Oregon are effective in keeping the crash rates down.”

Another separate phone study conducted with 1,000 teenage drivers in Oregon and British Columbia found that 30 percent of teens that had not been involved in an accident also ever violated the passenger rules during the first six months of their intermediary stage.

Sixteen percent of young people who had accidents also said they had not violated the restrictions during the same period.

The findings show that teens that were involved in accidents were more inclined to break driving laws. In Oregon, 33 percent of teenagers who were involved in accidents admitted to receiving a traffic ticket, compared to 13 percent of teens that received tickets but had not crashed.

Mayhew commented that the GDL laws are “not a panacea” but work as an effective tool in reducing crashes among beginning drivers.

The National Safety Commission and Lowest Price Traffic School offer safe teen driving resources for new drivers and their parents. Find out more about our monthly newsletter for teen drivers and the Driver Education Guide for Parents.

Wear a seat belt

Seriously, Wear a seat belt!

Investigators in Clark County, Ohio said 18-year-old Jacob Beam of Fairborn was killed in an accident on the morning of Sunday, June 11. Investigators said it appears the driver may have lost control, went off the road and struck a utility pole; neither teen was wearing a seat belt.

Safe Driving Lesson Learned

Wear lap belts around your hips, not your stomach. Fasten them snugly. Wear a shoulder belt only with a lap belt. Don’t just use your safety belt for long trips or high-speed highways. More than half of the collisions that cause injury or death happen at speeds less than 40 mph, and within 5 miles of home.

Some people think that because their car is equipped with an airbag they don’t have to wear their safety belt. Airbags will save your life, sometimes in a head-on collision. But you still have to wear your safety belt with an airbag. Excuses some people make for not wearing a safety belt:

  • It wrinkles my clothes. All you need to do is take a handkerchief or a small hand towel and keep it in your car. If you’re wearing nice clothes, put the handkerchief or towel between the seat belt and your clothes. It smoothes out that area and keeps it wrinkle free.
  • They’re uncomfortable. If your safety belt touches your neck and it’s uncomfortable, purchase a sheepskin or cloth covering. You put the covering over the spot on the seat belt that irritates you. This makes wearing the seatbelt more comfortable. You could also have a mechanic lower the belt an inch or two for a few dollars.
  • I forgot. If you make fastening your safety belt a habit, you will never forget.
  • They’re broken. Get them fixed – it could save your life!
  • I can brace myself in a crash. You cannot brace yourself. A 30-mph crash is the same force of impact as falling off a four-story building. Imagine that you are on the fourth floor of a building where there’s a balcony. Could you dive off the balcony and land on the sidewalk in the pushup position? You couldn’t – it is impossible.

This post is an excerpt from a recent edition of the Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin. Each month the National Safety Commission publishes the bulletin for teens and parents designed to improve teen driver behavior, attitude, skills, and experience. Subscription Details

Teen Gains New Perspective a Year after Car Crash

Alex Hickey, 19, faces surgery to begin reconstructing scarred thighs, the last outward signs of a year-old wreck that occurred when the driver she was riding with lost control on a wet road. She suffered a broken disk in her neck, a broken right femur, a broken left hand and a few broken teeth, four contusions, short term memory loss and a gash in her head that still sloughs off bits of glass; a knee has nerve damage and a foot dropped.

Safe Driving Lesson Learned

You should always drive with caution whenever there is a chance that your traction will be reduced, whether the roads are slick with rainwater or with spilled oil or fuel. If you find yourself driving on slick roads, here are some safety tips to follow:

  • Gradually reduce your speed.
  • Do not brake hard or suddenly on wet or slippery pavement.
  • Avoid sudden acceleration.
  • When you change your speed or direction, do so smoothly and gradually rather than sharply.
  • Increase your following distance to allow more time to stop.
  • If you approach a sharp curve or a hill, grip the steering wheel firmly and give yourself time to slow down.
  • If you start to hydroplane, stay calm. Don’t brake suddenly. Take your foot off the accelerator until the tires gain traction with the road, then brake gently.

After a storm, be aware of standing water. Do not drive through large bodies of standing water as it can affect brake performance and the vehicle’s electrical system and can cause engine failure, which could result in costly repairs. If the standing water is concentrated on one portion of the road and only one side of the vehicle goes through the water, the vehicle will tend to pull in that direction. The force of the pull is dependent on the depth of the water and the speed of the vehicle.

As you approach standing water, lift your foot off the gas pedal and check your rearview mirror for vehicles that may be following you too closely. Remember:

  • Slow down before hitting the water.
  • Turn wipers on before hitting the water.
  • Tap brakes as you exit.
  • Use caution in checking outside mirrors. Rain can distort or obliterate images.

Do not drive through standing water if you do not know how deep it is.

When roads are wet, stopping distance increases. When braking, friction between your tires and the surface of the roadway affect your stopping distance. Wet roads have less friction and increase the distance it takes you to stop.

Heavy rain reduces your ability to see and be seen. In the daytime, turn on your windshield wipers, low beam headlights and if needed, your windshield defroster. Heavy rain at night can almost blind you. Driving the speed limit under these conditions is too fast. It is always best to reduce your speed limit in this scenario. In rainy weather, the hazard of reduced visibility is compounded by reduced traction. Traction is the grip between your tires and the road. As the moisture reduces friction, tires lose their grip. The distance needed to stop a car increases and the driver has less control of the vehicle. The danger of reduced traction is greatest within the first half hour of rainfall. At that time, the pavement becomes especially slippery, when the rain mixes with the oil and the dust on the surface of the road.

This post is an excerpt from a recent edition of the Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin. Each month the National Safety Commission publishes the bulletin for teens and parents designed to improve teen driver behavior, attitude, skills, and experience. Subscription Details

Car Accident Claims Life of One Teen

Samantha Lyons-Dauck, 19, of Oglesby, Il was killed and the driver, 19-year-old Jared Goskusky of Tonica, was life-flighted to OSF St. Francis Medical Center where he is in serious condition after a one car rollover accident in the early morning hours of Friday, June 16.

It’s still unclear why the car left the roadway just before 5 a.m., and friends fear it could be alcohol related. Source:

Safe Driving Lesson Learned

The first thing to be affected by alcohol is your judgment. When you drink, both your thinking and your reasoning become impaired. You become less likely to consider the consequences of your actions. You underestimate the risks of being on the road, and overestimate your ability to tolerate alcohol. The fact that you are judging the situation from an impaired mindset leads one to make a decision that could be dangerous, as you then make the “impaired decision” to get behind the wheel. The choice to get behind the wheel in this case was affected by alcohol, and the consequences were not considered.

After your judgment, the next thing alcohol affects is your reaction time. You become physically slower and less alert. It takes you longer to hit the brake but, because your judgment is impaired, you’re not likely to increase your following distance in order to compensate. You process information slower, which affects your perception of traffic situations.

Finally, alcohol affects your vision. It relaxes the muscles that focus and move the eyes, causing your vision to become distorted. Your perception of distance is affected. You have a hard time judging how close you are to other vehicles, road signs or traffic signals. Your pupils take longer to adjust to changes in light, so you’re more vulnerable to being blinded by the glare of headlights. Your eye muscles may even relax to the point that you can’t focus and your vision becomes fuzzy and you see a double image. Alcohol also affects peripheral vision or the area around your eyes but not directly in front of you. This is how we perceive lights, shadows, and motion. Peripheral vision area is needed when driving; as you travel down the road the guy on the bike might be beside the road prior to pulling in front of you, but with a diminished field of vision, combined with a lack of reaction time, the result could be tragic. Either of the two affected areas alone could have been a problem, but when combined, the potential is deadly.

When you drink, your bad driving habits become more pronounced. Imagine yourself on the road after having one drink. If a person runs out in front of your car, can you stop in time? After one drink, your motor skills have been affected. Your ability to think and see has clearly diminished. After two or three drinks, your decision-making skills are seriously hampered, your attention span decreases and you take longer to think and longer to react. What if a child chases a ball out into the street? Will you be able to react and stop in time?

This post is an excerpt from a recent edition of the Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin. Each month the National Safety Commission publishes the bulletin for teens and parents designed to improve teen driver behavior, attitude, skills, and experience. Subscription Details

Safe Driving Lessons Learned

Speeding is one of the most prevalent factors in crashes. Thirty percent of all fatal crashes are caused by speeding. In 2004, 13,192 lives were lost nationwide as a result of speeding.

Speeding affects the way the driver handles the car because it prevents the driver from being able to control the car around curves and bends. It increases braking distance. It also increases the distance that the car travels before the driver can react to a dangerous situation.

Some typical reasons for speeding are: late for school or work, late getting home, late for an appointment or no reason at all! We are trying to turn the clock back. Before we speed, we should ask ourselves, “What will we gain by speeding?” Are we trying to save time?

Let’s take a look at that for a minute. You have a twenty-mile trip to make. If you go the speed limit, which is 55 miles per hour, it will take you approximately 21 minutes and 48 seconds. However, you are late, so you are going to travel at 75 miles per hour, so that will only take you approximately 15 minutes and 59 seconds. That is a saving of 5 minutes and 49 seconds. You are stopped by a highway patrolman and it takes him 10 minutes to write the ticket. Add time taken to complete a driving school course (4 hours), and you haven’t saved any time at all!

This post is an excerpt from the June edition of the Safe Driving Teen Monthly Bulletin. Each month the National Safety Commission publishes the bulletin for teens and parents designed to improve teen driver behavior, attitude, skills, and experience. Subscription Details