CDC Says Further Limits On Teen Driving At Night Will Save Lives

A new study by the Center for Disease Control found just over 30% of fatal car wrecks from 2009-2014 involving teen drivers [aged 16-17] occurred between 9 PM and 6AM. A whopping 57% of those accidents occurred BEFORE Midnight. This calls into the question the practice of many states which while they do limit teen night-time driving, do so only AFTER Midnight.

Now, some may go “Well that’s peak driving time, after school, weeknights and weekends”. That’s true to a point but let’s examine the idea further: kids who have been up since 6 AM, in school all day, are having most of their fatal car crashes while they’ve been up and about in the range of 15-18 hours already. There have been countless studies on teens needing more sleep, how their brains haven’t reach maturity yet, and to boot these kids are relatively inexperienced drivers. Putting those factors together is a dangerous combination.

49 of 50 states in the U.S. have restrictions on teen nighttime driving [Vermont, you’re on the way wrong side of this issue]. However, only 23 of those states actually limit driving before midnight. Driving at night puts one at elevated risk for a crash regardless of age but more the young, inexperienced driver who is less adept to challenges they may find on the road. Data in the study provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA] found 93% of the nearly three and half billion teen night driving trips ended before midnight based on their 2009 data.

The unfortunate and obvious observation to all this is, we’re letting our children drive when they’re most vulnerable. So what can be done? For one, night-time driving needs to become a larger requirement of Drivers Ed Behind-the-Wheel training. Many states require a much higher percentage of daytime practice driving than at night. If we’re going to keep restrictions where they are now, then DMVs have a responsibility to update their standards to include many more hours of nighttime practice driving a parent or licensed adult. This is a must if we are to keep thing as we are.

Others will say restrictions should begin even earlier; that we should limit our teens at so they can’t drive past dark. Dusk can be an incredibly dangerous time as well, with varying visibility levels and the sun is low enough that it can be blinding. Again, that leads to another problem of sort of coddling kids from preventing them from driving at night at all.  You then end up with night driving as almost a totally foreign environment when drivers do move past a night-time driving restriction once they get older. Not a good answer either.

I advocate more of a middle of the road approach to this. Night Driving Restrictions should be moved down to around 9-10 PM. Kids shouldn’t be out later in a car than you would’ve wanted them running or biking around the neighborhood at night. Most of the same fears we have for our children are still a valid concern anyway, a car as the means of transportation doesn’t take away those worries. It just might be adding to it.

For the night driving restrictions in your state, see this cool map from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

nighttimecutoffs

 

And again, for a great online Teen Drivers Ed course with fantastic material on night driving, I recommend DriversEd.com
DriversEd.com-The leading provider of online drivers education.  Ensuring you’ll get your permit the first time!

Web Analytics
//static.getclicky.com/js
try{ clicky.init(100981042); }catch(e){}

Clicky

People Are Crashing Their Cars Because of Pikachu and Jigglypuff

pikachu

Nintendo’s Pokémon Go is sweeping the nation, and the world at large. I’ve seen kids clumped in town squares having pizza parties as they use their smartphones to play the game, trying to find Pokémon characters out in the real world. There’s good intentions there, a game that makes kids go outside. It was nice, though the sheer number of people walking around glued to their phones as they played was sort of surreal even by the standards of the world we live in today. Apple has reported, according to an article over at TechCrunch, that Pokémon Go is its most downloaded app in its first week of release ever.

All that said, I’m hearing some pretty concerning things associated with the game as well. Some folks in Elk Grove, CA were lured into a serious situation when they tried to meet up with other fans and were instead robbed at gunpoint. Two young men in Encinitas fell off a cliff some 80 feet to the beach below trying to catch Pokémon on their phone. The one that really caught my attention happened in Baltimore; a young man and his friends sideswiped a police car while playing Pokémon Go.

Then I read about a Pokémon Go crash in Fall City, WA; then one in Auburn, NY; another across the border in Canada’s Quebec City. As the popularity of this app continues to rise to even greater heights, it may actually become something of a regular cause of accidents. All of this, of course, goes back a regular topic on this blog: distracted driving.

Distracted Driving takes many forms.  Sometimes it’s a bad mood. You could be paying more attention to one of your passengers than the road. It can be something as insignificant as eating or drinking, lighting up a cigarette or vaping. You might be trying to answer a text message [sending the average text will take your eyes off the road for about 5 seconds, which is just long enough for something to go wrong.]

Traffic safety experts actually consider there to be three types of distractions drivers can get caught up in: the manual, the visual, and the cognitive. A manual distraction is when you physically do something [grabbing your phone out of your purse] that takes away your attention. A visual distraction is when something else comes into view that takes your eyes off the road [a new text appears on your phone]. A cognitive distraction is anything that causes your mind to focus on something else rather than driving [thinking about a text you received]. Now with Pokémon Go, you have all three of those distractions combined just like active texting but in a new way that requires greater concentration and feeds into the competitive response of gaming. That’s what makes it more even more dangerous.

Now if you’re a person who thinks it’s important enough to catch Meowth or Psyduck that you would risk yourself, your passengers, people outside, or even your or someone else’s car, well maybe I can’t help you. However, if you’re a fairly rational person only occasionally just prone to poor judgment, please keep safety in mind. Yes, you “gotta catch em all!” but not behind the wheel. If you’re a pedestrian, look both ways when you cross the street, don’t stare at your phone, the person pulling up to the crosswalk in their car might be on the precipice of finding Charmander and not stop in time.

Don’t Pokémon Go and Drive!

Web Analytics
//static.getclicky.com/js
try{ clicky.init(100981042); }catch(e){}

Clicky

Self-Driving Cars and What They Can Mean For the Senior Driver

self driving car

Technology continues to define our experience behind the wheel. The GPS consoles that were the pricey add-on packages in new cars are slowly getting replaced by cell phone apps. Some cars have collision sensors now that can automatically stop before an accident occurs and the hope is that will go standard in a few years. Big things in small packages, they say. The latest change to our driving experience is indeed big in every way: the car itself is changing and soon will drive all on its own. At the forefront of this technological revolution are Google and Tesla but Big Auto can’t be counted out either. GM looks to partner with Lyft to make self-driving taxis a reality. Today I’m going to look at what this means for one of the largest populations of the USA: the senior citizen.

My view of self-driving cars for younger folks vs. seniors is vastly different. You see a kid that can’t parallel park and you think “Well parking assistance software really is a plus” but at the same time, will that kid ever really learn to do it themselves? That notion is put on steroids with a self-driving car: do we dull our skills or never fully develop them at all then? Do we end up with a generation of kids who can’t drive well, simply because they don’t need to? Maybe but that’s the dark side of the spectrum. However on the plus side, the self-driving car may be exactly what helps an aging population of Baby Boomers stay independent and at the same time, safer than previous generations of seniors.

Typically car crash statistics vary with age. Rates start out high with novice drivers and tend to decline over the life of the population until around age 70. At that point you still see a decreased instance of crash but you also an increased percentage of fatal crashes in seniors from age 70-85 years old, according to studies done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety [IIHS]. This change in comparison goes very much against the trends of the population at large. It means seniors are driving less and ending up in fewer accidents but those who do are much more prone to be involved in a fatal crash.

So how can the self-driving car change the world for older drivers? They may just be safer option going to the grocery store or around town. Older folks often suffer from ailments that can make their own mobility and rigidity an issue; the ability to turn and look quickly at what’s behind you or in your blind spots essentially. Vision problems often become a greater concern with age as well. 33% of all fatal crashes involving seniors occurred at Intersections while failure to yield, improper left turns, and failure to obey a traffic light round out the top causes of crashes in finding by the IIHS. These are around-town driving issues, things that can happen in someone’s comfort zone. Having the ability to rely on a self-driving car as means to maintain independence while increasing safety in one’s later years is a great, great thing and I welcome it.

All that said, self-driving cars aren’t the norm just yet. And we won’t be at a point where putting thousands of computers in midtown gridlock at rush hour is a good idea for even longer. There are still too many scenarios out there developers haven’t even begun to ponder for a self-driving car. We’ll get there but not yet.

Here’s a really cool 90 second look at Google’s self-driving car:

So what can you do to protect yourself or a loved one if diminishing skill behind the wheel is a concern in the meantime? I recommend taking a Senior Driver Safety course from an established name like AARP. The AARP Smart Driver Course is a wonderful refresher that highlights to seniors the dangers of distracted driving, ailments and conditions that come with age to look out for, the effects of medication of driving, and of course, better driving techniques. It may also save you money on your insurance by taking one of these courses, as many providers offer premium discounts if you do!

Check out AARPDriverSafety.org today!

 

Web Analytics
//static.getclicky.com/js
try{ clicky.init(100981042); }catch(e){}

Clicky

Make Your Old Car Smarter With Hum By Verizon

What if you could make that first beater car your teen worked, scrimped and saved for all year long for into a safer, more reliable ride with built-in diagnostics, hands-free talking, emergency roadside assistance, anti-theft tracking? Not to mention software that tells you the parent, if your teen is speeding or joyriding where they shouldn’t be? Even instant accident detection so you know your kids need you even before they do? You’d probably love to do that. Verizon aims to give you just that ability with their new Hum adapter. And they’re offering it now for just $10 a month.

How’s it work? While Apple and Google are concentrating on becoming the replacements of those expensive GPS system upgrades offered at the dealerships on brand new cars, Hum by Verizon works for all cars from 1996 on. You simply plug Hum’s adapter into your car’s OBD port [located typically under the dashboard], and unleash the power of your car’s computer through the focus of Hum. The adapter works in conjunction with a Bluetooth control and phone app that provides not only hands-free talk but 24/7 roadside assistance and even a direct line to a mechanic. The Hum app breaks down data and car computer coding into plain English, to allow for greater understanding of your car’s engine life.

humparts

Can’t find your car in a parking lot? Hum will walk you right to it. If your car is ever stolen, Hum can help authorities track it. Don’t want your kids driving past a certain boundary line? Hum will tell you if they do it, how fast they were going, even how much gas was used.

Now, you don’t have to have Verizon as your cell phone provider to use Hum. This is a separate service for your car and the goal for Verizon is to get Hum in millions of vehicles. The app works on either Google Android or Apple iOS operating systems. Currently, Verizon is running a promotion where you can purchase the Hum Adapter and Bluetooth control for $29.99 with a 2 year $10 a month service contract. That saves $120 right away on the hardware, and gets your new teen driver to 18 with this great protection.

I’ll leave you with this brief video on Hum below. Visit Hum’s website here.

Web Analytics
//static.getclicky.com/js
try{ clicky.init(100981042); }catch(e){}

Clicky