Monthly Archives: October 2011

Trick or Treat?

Halloween is an exciting time for kids, my daughter cannot stop talking about it, her costume and she is genuinely excited.   Most kids in my neighborhood are like that, especially the younger ones.   It is a time to get dressed up, walk around and get CANDY!!!

Most adults I know are not as excited, the sugar aside, there are real concerns about this “over-hyped” holiday.  According to a Harris Interactive poll from 2010, 41% of adults feel this is a dangerous holiday.  There is reason for that.   Foreign objects in apples, tainted candy, dog attacks and any number of accidents involving our children.  Halloween’s past tricks give us reason to be concerned.

How do we make this holiday less scary? Here are so simple suggestions, which could help make the night less spooky for you the parent.

Flashlights, make sure your kids have them and they are being used as the kids go house to house.  The flashlight helps others, especially other drivers, see your kids.  Or get a costume that lights up, I saw an excellent one the other day.  All Hallows Eve is usually pretty dark, on average the Moon is full on Halloween once every 28 years.  In 2012 the Moon will be full two days before Halloween.

Reflective tape is typically is not part of the kids costume, but it is the best accessory.  Small kids and dark costumes are a recipe for a ghoulish results.

Talk to your children about using the sidewalks whenever possible, if not possible to be as far to the left side of the street as possible, walking against traffic.  Being able to see oncoming cars is important for reaction time.

Work one side of the street instead of going across the street, this way you minimize the running to and from houses and opposite traffic flow.

The mask is a great part of the costume, but it does not help the childs visibility. Try and limit the masks, but if they insist, you insist it is off while they are walking house to house – so they can see where they are going.

As a parent, walk with your child, there is no reason for any kids to be out and about by themselves on Halloween!

If you are driving on Halloween, you really have to pay extra special attention,  children are twice as likely to be hurt in an accident involving a vehicle on Halloween versus any other night.  With so many children out and about, it is critical as a driver you are really focused on your surroundings and driving.   No distracted driving, no cell phones and there is no reason to speed.

Finally, know where your older children are and who they are with, teens can get themselves in trouble on Halloween and for the most inexperienced drivers, it is definitely not good night for them to be out driving without adult supervision.

DefensiveDriving.com wishes you a scary safe Halloween!!!!

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When we are the best teacher

October 16 to the 22nd is National Teen Driver Safety week. A variety of events have been held by a large number of organizations across the country with the primary focus on how we can improve driver safety for our most inexperienced drivers.

The National Teen Driver Safety week was established by Congress in 2007 to bring focus and awareness on the prevention of unnecessary teenage deaths on the road. Nearly 1,000,000 teens in the 11th grade, close to 20% of the total population of High School Juniors, indicated they had been in a motor vehicle accident last year, an alarming statistic given how disproportionate the numbers are to the rest of the driving population.

An area of focus is obviously distracted driving, in particular, texting while driving and the use of Graduated Licensing, to increase the age in which a young adult can obtain the driving privilege and do so without an adult present.

However, there is a critical element in any young drivers experience, the parents. What we do as adults, while our teens are preparing to learn to drive, while they are learning to drive and when they start driving, impact how our teens drive.

Some simple suggestions for being the best drivers ed teacher for your young driver:

Be the kind of driver you want your teen to be. The learn from us directly, so obey the speed limit, come to a complete stop, do not accelerate through yellow lights and most importantly, put the phone away. Your teenage learns from your mature driving behavior.

Practice driving with your teenager. More often than not, and if you talk with driver education professional instructors, they will tell you the teens they teach have never actually driven with their parents. Take time out of your busy day to spend time riding with your teen. Help them parallel park, educate them on proper maintenance and actually ride with them while they are preparing to take their driving test. The time you invest will be returned with the piece of mind knowing you taught your teen to drive.

Make it a habit to know who your teen is riding with and how many teens are in a vehicle. Teens learn a lot from their peers and if you do not know what they are driving like, you might not like the behaviors your teens learn from their peers. The more teens in a vehicle, the more apt they are to take risks and to be distracted, by their peers. Set boundaries related to the times your teen can be in a vehicle and the number of peers they are with.

Talk to your teens about the dangers associated with driving, watch the sad and morbid videos, (Faces of Distracted Driving is a great site) and take an online driver safety course together. Be involved in learning together, you might learn something you forgot.

Make every week your teens drive, a teen driver safety week. Actively involve yourself in your teens driving experience.

These are just a few tips which hopefully will help your teen be safe and you be proud of the mature driver you have created.

Have a safe weekend and fall!

Don’t be afraid of driving on Halloween

There are plenty of spooky, scary things associated with Halloween, but driving shouldn’t be one of them. Whether you’re traveling by car or on foot on All Hallows’ Eve, the Defensive Driving team recommends familiarizing yourself with our list of safety tips and tricks (pun intended!).

If you’re driving:
• Drive slowly (especially in neighborhoods between 4 and 8 p.m., which typically is when most families are out trick-or-treating) and don’t pass stopped vehicles because they might be dropping off or picking up children.
• Be patient and take your time. Expect to stop frequently, especially in residential areas.
• If you’re familiar with an alternate route that will help you avoid busy neighborhoods, go around.
• Stay off your cellphone. Wait until you’ve parked the car to talk, text or surf the Web.
• Keep a close eye out for children. Always yield to them and watch out for young trick-or-treaters darting into the street.
• Always, always, always use your turn signals; and turn on your hazard lights when dropping off and picking up children.
• Don’t drink and drive. This is an especially important rule of thumb on Oct. 31 because so many pedestrians are out and about. If you do plan on drinking on Halloween, designate a sober driver or arrange for a cab.

If you’re walking:
• Teach your children how to cross the street appropriately: instruct them to look both ways before crossing the street and to cross only at corners/crosswalks/intersections.
• Consider trick-or-treating before nightfall. If you plan on being out after dark, give your kids flashlights or glow sticks to hold/wear and put reflective tape on their costumes so they are visible to drivers.
• Plan to trick-or-treat in a neighborhood you are familiar with; and always stay aware of your surroundings.

And, last but not least, Happy Halloween from everyone at Defensive Driving Online!

~B. Waldman

Teen Driving: Homecoming Safety Tips

As school gears back up, student activities are on the rise, and there are increased numbers of teen drivers behind the wheel. According to the National Highway Safety Administration , traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, so both teens and other drivers need be especially cautious on the roadways. Homecoming is one of those special fall events that will have inexperienced teen drivers out on the roads en masse, so we have some tips that will help increase safety for your young drivers during this high risk driving times.

Ride in Style: Consider getting a limo or town car to transport your teen and his friends to the homecoming dance. This will take the pressure off the driver and allow everyone in the group (parents included) to have a worry free night. Because this can be expensive, ask other parents to split the cost and make it more reasonable.

Limit Passengers: If a teenage driver is behind the wheel, you should limit the other passengers to one. According to the Center for Disease Control , the presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers, and the risk goes up with more passengers in the vehicle.

Plan a Route: Ensure your teen is comfortable with the route to all homecoming events. You can practice driving a day or so ahead so they feel comfortable with the navigation, especially if it located somewhere they have never been before. Driving Skills for Life  recommends this high level of preparedness because passengers in the vehicle and excitement about the event can make it more difficult to focus on trying to follow a map or read road signs.

Slow Down: Encourage your teen driver to reduce their speeds while driving after dark as visibility can be greatly reduced during these times, and most events will be taking place in the evening and night hours.

Avoid Distractions: Setting a limit for passengers will help eliminate distractions during homecoming travel, but you need to set further guidelines for your teen driver to help create a safe driving environment. Encourage them to keep music at a reasonable volume, and pull over to the side of the road if they need to send a text message or take a call.

Have a Plan B: Always make sure your student leaves the house with a fully charged cell phone so they can call you in the event that they do not feel comfortable driving themselves home from an event. You should also program a couple of local cab company numbers into their cell phones in the event that you cannot be reached for a pick-up.

 

~R. Quick