Night Driving

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Today’s Three Seconds: Overdriving Your Headlights

3 Second StopOver half of motor vehicle crashes happen when it is dark out. For this reason we should remind ourselves to be even more aware of our surroundings at night.  An issue to avoid when driving at night is overdriving your headlights. Overdriving your headlights occurs when you cannot stop within the space lighted by your headlights, or in other words, by the time you can see a hazard ahead, you don’t have enough time to stop or respond safely. Instead you should drive at a slow enough speed so that your vision in your headlights is greater or equal to your stopping distance.

Defensive Driving Tip

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Today’s Three Seconds: IPDE Technique

3 Second StopAn essential part of defensive driving is being alert and attentive to your driving environment. At all times when driving, you must be aware of what is happening all around your vehicle, continuously scanning and searching for potential problems that may lead to a collision.

The “IPDE” technique is a four-step system used by drivers to anticipate and avoid collisions. IPDE stands for Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute and simply means:

1. Identify the potential problem.
2. Predict how the potential problem will affect you.
3. Decide what things you can do to avoid the potential problem.
4. Execute the maneuver that best avoids the potential problem.

Terror on the Highway

Wrong Way Drivers

Having a driver who is driving right towards you at highway speeds is not only scary, but is also extremely dangerous. According to the Federal Highway Administration, in the US, wrong-way driving crashes result in 300 to 400 people killed each year on average, which represent about 1% of the total number of traffic related fatalities. Though the percentage is low, wrong-way crashes on divided highways are much more likely to result in fatal and serious injuries because they involve high speed, head-on collisions.

In a study, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) found that driving while impaired by alcohol is the primary cause of wrong-way driving collisions, with more than 60 percent of wrong-way collisions caused by drivers impaired by alcohol. They also found that wrong-way collisions occur most often at night and during the weekends, and they tend to take place in the lane closest to the median.

Tips for dealing with a wrong way driver start with defensive driving basics:

  • Always use your seat belts. A seat belt is the single most important safety equipment feature of your vehicle, but in order for safety belts to work, they must be worn properly and at all times while driving. A lap and shoulder belt worn properly increase your chances of surviving a collision by 3 to 4 times than if you are unrestrained.
  • Scan for hazards. Keep your eyes moving and remember to look further down the road. Scanning enables your eyes to take in the whole scene, enabling you to identify a hazard before it becomes a last-second crisis. You should also be constantly looking for an escape route or somewhere to go if you encounter a problem or hazard on the road.
  • Don’t drive distracted. Don’t allow yourself to become distracted by your cell phone, eating, drinking or even your kids. When you take focus off of driving, you increase the time it takes you to react to problems on the road, which will in turn increase your chances of getting into a collision.
  • At night, stay to the right side of the road, in the right lanes and avoid driving in the fast lane, or lane closed to the median, especially if your view is blocked by curves or hills.

If you do see a wrong way driver, then:

  • Reduce your speed and move to the right lane or shoulder as quickly as you can without losing control of your car. Once the wrong way driver has safely passed you, be sure to notify the authorities.
  • If you can’t move out of the wrong way driver’s path, avoid being hit head-on by turning your car sideways. Head on collisions have the highest fatality rate, so if you are going to get hit, it is better to be hit at an angle, if possible at or behind the rear wheels, than taking the full force of the crash head-on.

Changing Lanes

S.M.O.G. Technique

Many drivers have a problem with changing lanes safely. The S.M.O.G. technique is meant to help remind you of the steps to take when planning a lane change. S.M.O.G. simply means:

  • Signal: Indicate your intentions to let other drivers know you plan on making a move before you actually do it.
  • Mirror: Check your mirrors to make sure that there is no traffic approaching from the rear.
  • Over-the-shoulder: Glance over your shoulder to make sure your blind spot is clear.
  • Go: When you’ve determined the lane is clear, gradually change lanes remembering to maintain your speed so that you don’t interfere with the traffic already in the intended lane.

Don’t forget to look ahead to anticipate and avoid traffic hazards. Before changing lanes, check the direction of travel and watch out for traffic coming from the opposite direction.

National Bike Month

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Today’s Three Seconds: Celebrate Cycling

3 Second Stop
May is National Bike Month and is sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists.  Bike Month celebrates the many reasons people choose to ride, including health, economic, and environmental benefits.  Bicycling has increased in popularity over the years, which in turn has promoted an increase in public awareness of bicyclist’s safety and rights on the road.  National Bike Month also highlights National Bike to Work Week 2018 (May 14-18) and Bike to Work Day on May 18.  So whether you are a seasoned veteran or new rider, there’s no better time then May to take your bike out for a spin.

Driver Inattention

Distracted Driving Awareness Month

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month which reminds motorist that anything that takes your attention away from driving is a distraction and can lead to a traffic collision.   The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 10% of fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2015 had a driver who was distracted at the time of the crash.

There are three kinds of distractions and they include anything that takes your:

  • Eyes off the road (visual).
  • Mind off the driving (cognitive).
  • Hands off the steering wheel (manual).


Activities like interacting with cell phones, passengers, and radio controls, as well as, grooming, eating and smoking can impair your driving abilities.  Driving safely involves being alert and aware of what is happening in your driving environment.   So next time you’re in the driver’s seat, keep your mind on driving and getting to your destination safely.

Make Your Own Luck

St. Patrick’s Day 2018

St. Patrick’s Day for many means drinking lots of green beer. In fact, March 17th is ranked the 4th most popular drinking day behind New Year’s Eve, Christmas, and the 4th of July, according to WalletHub. So, while you are preparing for a fun night out, take a look at these sobering statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and as always, please remember that drinking and driving don’t mix.

  • St. Patrick’s Day is one of the deadliest holidays on our nation’s roads. During the 2012-2016 St. Patrick’s Day holiday period (6 p.m. March 16 to 5:59 a.m. March 18), 269 lives were lost due in drunk-driving crashes.
  • In 2016 alone, 60 people (39% of all crash fatalities) were killed in drunk-driving crashes over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday period.
  • Between midnight and 5:59 a.m. March 18, 2016, almost three-fourths (69%) of crash fatalities involved a drunk driver.
  • Walking home from the bar after a night out partying? That can also be dangerous. In 2016, 36% of the pedestrians killed in crashes had blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) of .08 or higher.

Please make arrangements in advance to get home safely. Have a designated driver in your group, plan to use public transportation, or utilize Uber or Lyft. Bottom line, be sure you have a sober ride lined up before you take your first sip.

Signs and Signals

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Today’s Three Seconds: Using Hand Signals

3 Second Stop

Hand signals are something most of us learned when we first got our license and then didn’t think about too much afterwards. However, I do occasionally see a bicyclist sharing the road with me, using hand signals, so I thought it was a good idea to familiarize myself with them once again. Hand signals are also good to know in case your car’s blinkers are ever not working.

Left Turns: Driver’s left arm is extended straight out of the driver’s side window.

Right Turns: Driver’s left arm stretched out of the driver’s side window and bent upward at the elbow, with hand and fingers pointed toward the sky. (It should be noted that bicyclists may indicate a right turn by extending their right arm straight out to the right side of the bicycle.)

Slow or Stop: Driver’s left arm stretched out of the driver’s side window and bent downward at the elbow, with hand and fingers pointed toward the road.

Marijuana on the Road

Cannabis Use in Vehicles

Effective January 1, 2018, the California vehicle code has been updated to make it illegal to smoke or ingest marijuana or any marijuana product when driving or riding as a passenger in a vehicle.  Drugged driving laws have been in place for many years, but this law specifically addresses the use of cannabis products while driving.

Marijuana and driving don’t mix.  According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), marijuana negatively affects a number of skills required for safe driving, such as slow reaction time and your ability to make decisions.  The California Office of Traffic Safety states that the effects of marijuana are strongest during the first hour of use and driving right after using marijuana could double your risk of being in a crash.  The National Institute on Drug Abuse also notes that after alcohol, marijuana is the drug most often found in the blood of drivers involved in crashes.

So please remember, driving under the influence of drugs, even legal drugs, is not only unsafe, but is also a crime.